How to Become a Veterinary Technician in California

becoming a vet technician in california

Have no fear if you’re hoping to become a vet technician in California.

There are as many as 18 vet tech programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).

However, before we go into details, you should think through your decision.

Is becoming a vet technician really for you?

You should know that this is a career for someone who has no problems:

  • Working extra hours
  • Working on their feet
  • Talking to people
  • Showing compassion

If that’s you, then bingo!

Here’s how you can attain a career that’s slowly becoming coveted in the U.S.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in California

Let’s first glance through the duties and responsibilities of a vet technician.

Basically, as a vet technician, expect to work with people as much as with animals.

You need good communication and people skills because pet owners will be needing you to:

  • Show them some hope, and compassion in this upsetting situation
  • Explain their pet’s state sensitively and delicately

Apart from that, you’re the vet’s helping hand.

You take care of everything the vet might need.

But there are some things you can do by yourself without their supervision.

A few of them are as follows:

  • Record-keeping
  • Emergency care and first aid
  • Check their vitals (pulse, body temperature, etc.)
  • Handle their bodily fluids or discharge
  • Conduct diagnostics like x-rays
  • Perform clinical lab work (hematology, parasitology, and urinalysis)
  • Administer medications, fluids, and blood products per vet’s instructions
  • Patient communication
  • Inject anesthesia

And of all your duties, your most important one is to help the vet during surgeries.

You’ll make sure the vet has everything they need at every point of the surgery.

For example, making sure all parts of the equipment are in good working condition.

Bear in mind that you don’t need to work in private practice, although the demand is highest in this area.

Additionally, you can do specialization and find work in areas such as:

  • Internal medicine
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Zoological medicine
  • Surgery
  • Clinical practice
  • Nutrition
  • Clinical pathology

How to Become One

As mentioned, California is packed with colleges with programs accredited by CVTEA.

The excellent thing here is that they’re all located within 50 miles of at least one major city in California like:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • San Diego

This will make it way easier for you to attend classes than in some other states.

Twelve of these 18 colleges have fully accredited programs, while five are undergoing accreditation.

Then, after you graduate, you’re required to take the following exams:

Passing these will make you a legally licensed vet technician.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in California

vet technician education in california

The education system in California is a tad more complicated than in most other states.

All programs require a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

And depending on the school, you will also have to:

  • Take an entrance exam
  • Talk with a counselor
  • Pay an application fee of up to $100

In some cases, they require an essay and at least one letter of recommendation.

You may even have to take a test called Wonderlic.

It’s an intelligence exam that tests your problem-solving skills and comprehension.

And then there’s also the classwork, which you must deliver at least 20 hours of.

Note that the coursework will be heavily science-based.

The classes you’ll attend will require some prerequisite courses, depending on your program.

Those prerequisites may be classes you have or haven’t taken in high school.

  • Math
  • Communications
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Humanities
  • Physical science

If you haven’t taken them, you need to attend those before applying for the program.

Once you’ve done the classwork, you’re now eligible to take the VTNE.

All in all, it will take you around 18 to 36 months to graduate with an associate’s degree in Registered Veterinary Technology.

However, there is another way for you to become a registered vet technician.

An Alternative to Traditional Vet Technician Education

This alternative requires at least 4,416 hours of practical experience within two years.

This substitutes all the classes you would otherwise attend in a traditional program.

In choosing this option, you must show competence in the list of skills given by the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB).

The vets you’re working with have to:

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition varies widely depending on the college you take the program in.

Generally speaking, most programs will cost you somewhere between $12,000 to $25,000.

This amount includes the tuition and additional fees but excludes living expenses.

Luckily, you can pay for these programs through financial aid.

Every program offers many kinds of financial aids like:

  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Work-study
  • General scholarships

You can try applying for one if you meet the criteria.

You can also apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

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Licensing and Certification

As mentioned, you’ll have to take two tests in California to become a licensed vet technician.

  • VTNE

VTNE’s been regulated by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

You can only take this if you’ve either:

Meanwhile, CVTNE’s under the jurisdiction of the CVMB.

Both exams are computer-based and administered all around the state.

But there are also out-of-state sites where you can take the test.

In order to keep your license current, you’ll need to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE) annually.

Sixteen of those must be taken from approved CE providers.

Getting a Job in California

applying for a vet technician job in california

When you graduate and finish all your additional exams, your next step is finding a job.

Fortunately, this isn’t too hard for vet technicians since many vet facilities are looking for new staff.

You can apply at any of these facilities:

  • California Veterinary Medical Association
  • Veterinary Centers of America – California Branches
    • Venice Boulevard Animal Hospital
    • Mission Viejo Animal Hospital
    • Angel Animal Hospital
  • Vetco Wellness Centers and Vaccination Clinics inside PETCO
  • Banfield Pet Hospital locations in:
    • Clovis
    • Fresno

Salaries for Vet Technicians in California

Today, the veterinary field is becoming an industry with bright prospects.

The reason lies in the increasing number of pet owners in America each year.

In fact, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment level will grow up to 15% by 2030.

Here are the average salaries in cities across California.

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Anaheim,CA $40,670
Antioch,CA $41,658
Apple Valley,CA $38,608
Bakersfield,CA $39,087
Berkeley,CA $43,127
Burbank,CA $41,161
Carlsbad,CA $38,911
Carson,CA $40,579
Chico,CA $37,144
Chula Vista,CA $39,129
Coachella,CA $38,639
Concord,CA $40,892
Corona,CA $38,884
Costa Mesa,CA $40,579
Daly City,CA $45,856
Downey,CA $40,769
El Cajon,CA $39,013
El Monte,CA $41,117
Elk Grove,CA $39,575
Escondido,CA $38,911
Fairfield,CA $40,863
Fontana,CA $38,942
Fremont,CA $44,313
Fresno,CA $36,467
Fullerton,CA $40,670
Garden Grove,CA $40,670
Glendale,CA $41,161
Hayward,CA $43,054
Huntington Beach,CA $40,579
Inglewood,CA $41,161
Irvine,CA $40,579
Lancaster,CA $40,942
Lompoc,CA $37,959
Long Beach,CA $40,579
Los Angeles,CA $41,161
Modesto,CA $38,650
Monterey,CA $40,410
Moreno Valley,CA $38,913
Murrieta,CA $39,694
Newhall,CA $40,645
Norwalk,CA $40,617
Oakland,CA $43,127
Oceanside,CA $39,216
Ontario,CA $38,884
Orange,CA $40,579
Oxnard,CA $39,022
Palmdale,CA $40,888
Pasadena,CA $41,161
Petaluma,CA $40,943
Pomona,CA $40,583
Rancho Cucamonga,CA $38,748
Rialto,CA $38,772
Richmond,CA $43,291
Riverside,CA $38,942
Roseville,CA $39,531
Sacramento,CA $40
Salinas,CA $40,322
San Bernardino,CA $38,772
San Diego,CA $39,129
San Francisco,CA $45,856
San Jose,CA $44,400
Santa Ana,CA $40,615
Santa Barbara,CA $39,333
Santa Clara,CA $44,400
Santa Clarita,CA $40,577
Santa Cruz,CA $40,506
Santa Maria,CA $38,624
Santa Rosa,CA $39,742
Simi Valley,CA $39,910
Stockton,CA $39,014
Sunnyvale,CA $44,400
Temecula,CA $39,149
Thousand Oaks,CA $39,610
Torrance,CA $40,579
Vallejo,CA $40,979
Ventura,CA $39,022
Victorville,CA $38,624
Visalia,CA $36,248
West Covina,CA $40,583

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA140$45,430$21.84$59,530$36,340
Chico, CA80$46,340$22.28$62,070$36,100
Fresno, CA150$42,310$20.34$55,160$33,280
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA2,900$48,560$23.34$63,130$35,570
Merced, CA30$42,580$20.47$49,030$36,690
Modesto, CA160$47,330$22.76$60,900$37,090
Napa, CA40$46,150$22.19$58,150$38,930
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA380$48,470$23.31$62,140$37,560
Redding, CA60$43,890$21.1$56,080$35,790
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA760$45,910$22.07$58,330$36,730
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA880$50,080$24.08$63,790$38,450
Salinas, CA130$48,560$23.35$63,200$38,330
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA1,190$48,980$23.55$62,880$38,200
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA1,420$57,730$27.76$75,930$44,600
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA460$61,110$29.38$76,630$45,080
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA120$44,670$21.48$56,930$37,230
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA140$51,940$24.97$69,580$38,360
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA150$46,270$22.25$57,760$37,570
Santa Rosa, CA280$50,960$24.5$68,470$39,640
Stockton-Lodi, CA120$45,240$21.75$58,570$36,600
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA120$48,400$23.27$60,320$39,040
Visalia-Porterville, CA60$42,480$20.42$55,080$30,680
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, OCC Code 29-2056, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Final Words

Whether you’re an animal lover or just interested in vet medicine, know that these aren’t enough to perform this challenging career like a pro.

Just ask around and research online what this career will require from you.

Most of it will consume your extra hours.

Not to mention the physical and emotional toll it will have on you.

And if you still think this is exactly the field you see yourself in, then we wish you the best of luck!

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