Veterinary technicians and assistants are essential elements of any veterinary care team, especially here at BluePearl. Techs and assistants help deliver care to patients, often acting as the first line of contact for pets and their owners.
While the role of vet tech can be highly rewarding, statistics show that job satisfaction levels are wavering. Turnover rates have increased in the past few years, with many technicians pursuing a different role after just a few years.
This article highlights four veterinary technician advancement opportunities to help:
- Expand your skills
- Increase your earning potential
- Boost career satisfaction
- Lay the groundwork for advancing into leadership roles
4 Vet Tech Advancement Opportunities
1. Earn Your Credentials
Currently, only 18 states certify veterinary technicians. If you’re working in a state that doesn’t require credentials, that shouldn’t stop you from aiming to become a certified, registered, or licensed veterinary technician. Earning your CVT, LVT, or RVT shows your commitment to delivering outstanding care.
Earning your credentials goes beyond the letters after your name. The experience and education you receive to become credentialed are invaluable to your role, and the amount of knowledge behind the skills you know may astound you.
In an AVMA CVTEA-accredited veterinary technology program, you’ll learn core skills on a broad range of topics that equip you with the knowledge required as a vet tech, including:
- Essential nursing skills
- Medical terminology
- Lab procedures
- And more
You’ll also be prepared to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is required to become credentialed.
Once you’re a certified, registered, or licensed veterinary technician, you can continue honing your skills and growing professionally with growth opportunities like:
- Pursuing further credentials
- Being promoted to a supervisory role
- Joining hospital administration and management
2. Go Beyond Your Credentials
Becoming a credentialed veterinary technician is an accomplishment to be proud of. After the work you put in to graduate from a veterinary technology program, pass the VTNE, and become credentialed in your state, your accomplishments should be celebrated.
Passing the VTNE and earning your credentials may seem like the end goal for a veterinary technician. But this time can be just the starting point for your future, depending on your professional goals and aspirations. Credentialed vet techs have many possible paths for advancement depending on what interests you and ignites your passion.
Become a Veterinary Technician Specialist
If you have an affinity for a particular veterinary discipline, such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, or anesthesia and analgesia, you can advance your career and follow your passion by earning a Veterinary Technicians Specialist (VTS) certification in your desired specialty.
Why Become a VTS?
Earning a VTS certification signifies your deep commitment and devotion to the profession, and your desire to continue growing and advancing your role, which can lead to even more opportunities and earning potential in the future.
Veterinary technician specialist is an in-demand, high-growth career that allows you to enjoy job security and the professional satisfaction of performing a higher level of skills and duties to help animals.
What is NAVTA?
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has a list of approved academies that have met the NAVTA CVTS requirements to become fully recognized credentialing bodies for VTS certification.
The academies cover veterinary disciplines such as:
- Emergency and critical care
- Internal medicine
- Anesthesia and analgesia
- And more
These academies are responsible for credentialing and uniting technicians of their specific veterinary specialty.
How Do I Earn a VTS Certification?
If you’re interested in obtaining your VTS, the first step is gaining the experience needed for your specialty. Many specialty academies require proof of 1,000+ hours of experience in the specialty as part of your application for certification. Often, this includes materials like case record logs detailing your nursing skills.
While gaining the necessary experience, sign up for specialized CE opportunities, which you can find on academy websites and NAVTA.net, among other places.
Talk to your supervisor about your desire to earn a VTS certification – they may be able to help you identify CE opportunities and place you in a role where you can gain the experience needed to apply.
In summary, to be eligible to take the exam and earn a VTS certification, you’ll need:
- On-the-job experience
- Case logs and reports
- Specialty continuing education credits
The requirements for each academy may differ slightly, so be sure to check NAVTA’s list of approved academies to learn more about your specific discipline’s eligibility needs.
3. Pursue a Leadership Role
Leadership and supervisory positions within a hospital are a natural progression for many veterinary paraprofessionals looking to advance in their careers. Leadership roles in nursing (e.g., head technician or technician manager) or in administration (e.g., practice manager or hospital administrator) are an excellent way to progress in your career and foster important changes, like developing resources to support care team associates at your workplace.
Show Your Dedication
If you’re inspired to lead, find opportunities to make your commitment, initiative, and skills known to leaders in the hospital. This can take many forms, such as:
- Being an active participant in team meetings
- Mentoring new technicians and assistants
- Researching relevant CE sessions for your team
Demonstrate Your Capabilities
Proactively seeking ways to improve your skill sets and learning additional skills as well as enabling remarkable contributions among your team are great ways to lay a foundation of success for transitioning into a leadership role in the future.
You can also ask your manager about available opportunities to hone your leadership skills, such as:
- Volunteering to help with supervisory tasks
- Providing ideas for improving processes in a continually changing field
- Sharing your knowledge with others
- Demonstrating your ability to be a team player
Consider asking directly: What skills do I need to have for the leadership position I aspire to?
4. Seek More Knowledge
Educate: In addition to the CE credits needed to maintain your license set by your state, participating in internal or external continuing education credit hours every year gives you a chance to learn about new advancements in the field, hone your skills, and acquire new, diverse skillsets that can benefit your career progression.
If your goal is to become a VTS, look into CEs featuring your specialty of interest. If you’re aiming for a leadership position, seek CEs that focus on management, business, and administration skills to gain experience and demonstrate your commitment to success.
Train: Participating in training opportunities sponsored by your company – such as annual OSHA training or hazardous – is one way to maintain your knowledge and stay up to date with requirements for state and hospital procedures.
For example, BluePearl facilitates training for RECOVER CPR guidelines (BLS) and annual refresher courses for our Associates.
Develop: You can also lean on learning opportunities like Continuing Education (CE) to develop or hone new skills. Many have options for leadership development, career advancement, and sessions specific to specialties, procedures, and treatments.
At BluePearl, Associates have access to resources like VETgirl, AtDove, and VetFolio to find RACE-approved CE opportunities and more.
Learn: For self-guided instruction and learning, find out what kind of medical library your organization has access to. This way, you can access primary veterinary medicine journals and stay current on industry news and research.
For example, BluePearl Associates benefit from online access to primary industry journals and textbooks, all at no cost.
Achieve Your Goals as a Vet Tech
Wherever you aspire to take your career as a veterinary technician, these resources can help you build your skills and grow professionally. Whether you want to upskill and improve your caregiving abilities or become a Veterinary Technician Specialist, the most important thing you’ll need is a willingness to learn, try something new, and stick to your goals.
A version of this article originally appeared in dvm360.