A veterinary technician is an important component of the animal health care team and works in a variety of settings, including private veterinary clinics, animal shelter and wildlife facilities, public health offices and research laboratories. Daily activities include a diverse number of duties, from taking patient histories to developing X-rays. To become a veterinary technician in Canada, individuals must become Registered Veterinary Technicians.

The Steps to Becoming a Registered Veterinary Technician

Obtain the necessary minimum academic requirements for a veterinary technician program. Most colleges require a secondary school diploma with a number of prerequisite courses, including advanced studies in English, biology, chemistry and mathematics. These courses help to prepare the prospective student for study at the college level in a veterinary technician program in Canada.

Obtain a pre-exposure rabies immunization. Most colleges also require that the applicant be familiar with animals in a professional setting. An applicant must submit verification of a minimum of 80 hours of relevant work or volunteer experience in a clinic, shelter or related venue. Applicants will also be required to complete an examination to measure college-preparedness. All of these prerequisites will be taken into account when determining offers of admission.

Complete a two-year college diploma program in Animal Health Technology, accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), with a minimum grade point average of 2.0. Students attend class on a full-time basis in most colleges for the entire two-year program. In addition to in-class hours, students are expected to contribute an addition 15 to 20 hours of home study each week. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to assist veterinarians through animal nursing care, assisting in laboratory and surgical and dental procedures after learning the fundamentals of physiology and anatomy, microbiology and pathology.

Participate in a six-week practicum at most colleges during which they will gain practical experience with an animal health care team. Depending on the student's location, these placements can take place in a number of settings, including animal clinics, emergency animal clinics, wildlife facilities and zoos. The practicum will require 40 hours of training each week throughout which the animal care facility's staff will observe and report on student learning experiences.

Take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This four-hour exam is administered in January and June each year. It consists of 200 multiple-choice questions which cover the responsibilities of a Veterinary Technician. These include pharmacology, surgical assisting, dentistry, laboratory procedures, nursing, diagnostic imaging and anesthesia. Upon successful completion of this exam, graduates register with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the provincial regulating body. Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) are then eligible for work in Canada.