Vet Tech School in North Carolina: Becoming a Vet Tech
Veterinary technicians are a crucial part of animal healthcare. They typically work with companion animals in private veterinary clinics or hospitals. However, many settings are possible – even wildlife organizations. Accredited programs prepare veterinary technicians to work with a range of animal populations: small animals, large animals, exotics.
North Carolina sets separate scopes of practice for veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants. State code specifically states that veterinary technicians – who have a relatively high level of preparation — can assist with anesthesia and surgery. Radiography, meanwhile, is among the tasks permitted assistants who are working under direct supervision.
Becoming a North Carolina RVT and Advancing in the Field
North Carolina RVTs meet standards at the level set by national organizations. North Carolina does not have an alternate path to licensure (https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.navta.net/resource/resmgr/vn_initiative/VeterinaryNursingMap.html#northcarolina-des).
The prospective RVT will enroll in a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (AVMA-CVTEA). The North Carolina Board specifies that the program may be at the two- or four-year level. Most North Carolina programs award an Associate of Applied Science. One awards an Associate Degree in Veterinary Medical Technology.
North Carolina candidates take a series of examinations. They apply to the American Association of State Veterinary Boards for permission to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). There are three testing windows a year; eligibility documentation is due a month in advance.
An approved candidate will take the North Carolina Veterinary Technician State Examination. The focus is state statutes and rules. The AASVB also administers the North Carolina State Examination. However, the candidate will need to apply to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board for permission to test. The North Carolina State examination is online.
A licensure candidate will need to provide license verification from other states of licensing or registration.
North Carolina RVTs have a continuing education requirement, though new graduates may be exempted.
With a two-year degree and an RVT license, a person can be very employable. Additional credentials can help a vet tech advance. Many specialty certifications are available through academies of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America. Other options include canine rehabilitation, companion animal pain management, and PennHIP imaging. Some veterinary technicians also seek certification as practice managers. Bachelor’s completion, too, can be useful for leadership roles and for positiosn in less common settings. Central Carolina Community College has provided a list of advanced certifications (https://www.cccc.edu/curriculum/majors/veterinarymedical/career-advancement.php).
Some veterinary hospitals, notably, employ veterinary technicians in specialized departments. In some settings, vet techs work under Board certified veterinarians.
Vet The Employers
The following are among North Carolina’s employers:
REACH Veterinary Specialists is a 24-hour emergency and specialty practice in Asheville. Clients may be referred by their primary vet for services such as internal medicine and surgery.
Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency (CARE) is another emergency/ referral facility. It employs Board-certified veterinarians in specialty areas and hires veterinary technicians for specific roles such as neurology, surgery, or ICU.
Carolina Veterinary Specialists is an emergency and referral practice. It has five locations in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. Specialties include ophthalmology, neurology, rehabilitation, and cardiology, among others. Two locations, Matthews and Huntersville, are certified as Level II by the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS). Carolina Veterinary Specialists extends externship opportunities to students in accredited veterinary technology programs.
Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital and Veterinary Emergency Hospital offers primary care as well as emergency care services. Some of their vet techs work in both day practice and emergency.
East Lincoln Animal Hospital is a full service companion animal facility. Veterinarians here see far more than cats and dogs; patients include reptiles and small mammals like ferrets and guinea pigs. There are currently 17 vet techs on staff.
Tryon Equine Hospital offers services for another animal North Carolinans love — and a much larger one. It’s among the state’s equine practices.
Among the many organizations advertising in North Carolina in 2019 was a poison hotline for animals.
North Carolina Vet Tech Salary and Career Outlook
North Carolina veterinary technologists made a median salary of $32,600 in 2018. The 10th percentile salary was $23,010. This increased to $43,380 at the 90th percentile.
North Carolina’s veterinary technology occupation has been projected to experience 30% growth across the 2016 to 2026 decade. This compares to a national rate of 20%.
Top Vet Tech Schools in NC
Gaston Community College offers a 71 semester hour Associate of Applied Science program that can be completed in two years; the student will have some coursework to do in the summer. The school boasts a 92% VTNE first-time pass rate. Admission is based on a point system. Test scores and coursework are taken into consideration. An applicant who does not have veterinary experience will need to complete observation hours before application.
Central Carolina Community College is the state’s oldest program, AVMA-accredited since 1974. Students who make it through the admission process earn their AAS in two years.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College represents yet another in-state AAS option. Here, too, the process is selective and the VTNE pass rate is above the national average.
Student and Professional Resources
Registration information is available from the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (http://www.ncvmb.org/applicants.php?section=exams_tech#content). The Board can be reached at 919-854-5601.The North Carolina Association of Veterinary Technicians is a state professional organization (https://www.ncavt.org/). There are three membership categories: one for RVTs, one for students, and one for other veterinary staff members such as assistants. NCAVT is a resource for continuing education.