Vet Tech School in Virginia: Becoming a Vet Tech
An article in The Virginian-Pilot takes a veterinarian-centered perspective on the vital role veterinary technicians play in animal healthcare (https://pilotonline.com/news/local/education/article_fa1f2265-2751-505d-8a80-74d50d3cfc60.html). Veterinary technicians carry out tasks generally regarded to be at the nursing level, thus freeing veterinarians to focus on the tasks that require more professional judgment and education. A Virginia Beach veterinarian is quoted as saying vet techs increase veterinarian efficiency. A colleague adds that they improve veterinary care. A Suffolk veterinarian, meanwhile, states that it can be difficult to find techs who are trained and licensed.
The article celebrated the arrival of a new in-state veterinary technology program: the state’s third. Not everyone will have a campus-based veterinary technology program within commuting distance, but distance education brings the training home. Education takes as little as two academic years.
While states do not have identical standards, most award credentials on the basis of accredited education and examination. A talented vet tech is in demand many places. One Virginia company recently advertised in West Virginia for a professional wiling to relocate.
Becoming a Virginia LVT and Advancing
Prospective veterinary technicians complete programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). They take the Veterinary Technician National Examination administered by the American Association of State Veterinary Boards. Applications are submitted to the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine. Candidates may be approved for testing before graduation. In this instance, they will need to have credentials reviewed by the Virginia Board. Graduates have their credentials reviewed by the American Association of State Veterinary Boards, the organization that administers the exam. Information is available on the AASVB website (https://www.aavsb.org/vtne-overview/verify-your-eligibility).
Some veterinary technicians eventually pursue adjunctive certification in specialty areas. Advanced certifications are available through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA). This type of credentialing is less common, but is valued by some of the state’s employers. Physical rehabilitation is among the many options.
The following are among Virginia’s many veterinary practices:
The Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital is operated by the Richmond SPCA and provides services to individuals with income limitations. It is a full-service animal hospital.
Nova Cat Clinic is among the state’s feline-only practices. The founder has been active in feline veterinary care issues on the national level and indeed was on the task force that set up Cat Friendly Practices.
Bon Air Animal Hospital in Richmond provides services for pet pigs and chickens as well as cats and dogs.
Caring Hands is a local chain with facilities in multiple cities, including Alexandria, Ashburn, Arlington, and Falls Church.
Veterinary Surgical Centers has Leesburg, Vienna, and Winchester locations. The practice utilizes veterinarians who are specialized in surgery and rehabilitation. It also values specialty certification in technicians. The following are among the rehabilitative therapies utilized: therapeutic laser, AquaPaws hydrotherapy, exercise equipment, and shockwave therapy.
Some animal hospitals are part of much larger networks. VCA Animal Emergency Critical Care is part of a nationwide family of animal hospitals.
While veterinary technicians often work with small companion animals, there are other possibilities. Accredited programs provide a foundation for work with farm animals and zoo animals; this is the case nationwide. Virginia code even states that a technician who graduated from an AVMA-accredited program can level equine teeth if he or she has had training equivalent to that of an equine dental technician. While accredited programs prepare professionals to carry out a wide variety of clinical, laboratory, and radiographic, this particular task may require further training.
Virginia Vet Tech Salary and Career Outlook
Virginia vet techs earned an average $39,060 in 2018. There was a wide range of reported salaries with those at the 10th percentile making $28,570, or $13.73 an hour and those at the 90th percentile making $50,530, or $24.30. The median was $37,830.Virginia’s veterinary technology occupation has been projected to grow by 30% over the course of the 2016 to 2026 decade; this compares to a national rate of 20%.
The Staunton-Waynesboro metropolitan area has an especially high concentration of veterinary technicians.
Top Vet Tech Schools in Virginia
Blue Ridge Community College offers an on-campus program in Weyers Cave and a distance program that is open to qualifying individuals throughout Virginia; the purpose of the latter is to support individuals who are already working in veterinary practices at least half-time. The program boasts very high VTNE pass rates: a 98% 2016 to 2019 rate for the on-campus program, 100% for the distance program. The school has a rigorous admission process. There are prerequisite courses. Students must demonstrate math aptitude. They will need to complete observation forms and submit a reference. They may be asked to complete an interview and take a pre-admission test. The college also offers Pre-Veterinary Technology Career Studies and Veterinary Assisting Career Studies certificates; veterinary assistant is a designation below that of veterinary technician.
Northern Virginia Community College also offers two options. The distance program is for working professionals. It is primarily online but students will make occasional campus visits. The admission process includes placement tests, prerequisite courses and recommendations.
Student and Professional Resources
Licensing information is available from the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/vet/vet_forms.htm). Contact information for the licensing specialist can be found on the Board website (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/vet/vet_staff.htm).
The Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians, a third party organization, serves as state professional association (http://www.valvt.org/). Student membership is free. 2019 graduate membership is free as well.