How to Become a Veterinary Technician in District of Columbia

If you enjoy being around animals and you see your career surrounded with them, then a career of vet technician is surely the right choice for you.

Not to mention the fact that this job is slowly becoming a coveted one, with an escalating number of pet owners each year.

Apart from having an immense love for animals, you need to have excellent communication skills with people, as in many cases, they are the ones you’ll have to calm down and show your support and understanding to.

And don’t forget physical capabilities like being on your feet for a long long time! These downsides to the job are incomparable to its upsides, though.

Take a look at what this job really entails.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in District of Columbia

Once you’re decided on pursuing the career of a vet technician, you should get acquainted with the duties and responsibilities of one.

Normally, the job a vet technician in animal healthcare is similar to that of a nurse in human healthcare.

After you graduate, you’ll be equipped to work with all kinds of animals, like exotic pets, lab animals, large and small groups of animals, and of course, pets.

One of the most important aspects of being a vet technician is talking to the pets’ owners and, in general, communicating with people all the live long day.

Apart from this, you’ll need to be capable of spending many hours on your feet, assisting veterinarians with whatever they need.

Your main duties may include the following tasks:

  • restraining animals during examinations
  • taking their body temperature and handling their bodily fluids or discharge
  • taking their pulse
  • taking x-rays
  • applying medications, fluids and blood products following the veterinarians’ instructions
  • addressing injuries and sometimes applying first aid, and let’s not forget the most important and challenging aspect of being a vet technician:
  • assisting veterinarians in surgeries.

Now, be aware that you don’t have to work in a veterinarian’s ambulance, because there are many options for vet technicians, and working at a vet’s private practice is just one of them.

Here are some of your options in other fields where you can work as a vet technician:

  • military service
  • private and public research
  • veterinary sales and supplies
  • livestock and equine management
  • zoos/exotic animal facilities
  • veterinary teaching hospitals
  • humane/rescue organizations.

How to Become One?

Your education of a vet technician lasts two to three years, and after you graduate you will earn an Associate’s degree in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

In order to do that, you’ll have to attend a course accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

After you graduate, you’ll be able to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) and, according to the laws of District of Columbia, the Washington DC State Board Examination.

Finally, after you pass these two exams, you’ll be able to work as a licensed veterinary technician in District of Columbia.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in District of Columbia

The next thing you should know, is that District of Columbia doesn’t have any veterinary technician programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

This means  you’ll have to get your degree otherwise. Here are your options:

Option number one – you can simply attend a school with an accredited program in one of DC’s neighboring states Virginia or Maryland which have schools with accredited programs.

You can, of course, attend a vet technician program at any other state, but these two will enable you to just commute from Washington DC, as they’re both within 50 miles of DC.

Out-of-state tuition is normally charged, however you can turn to a special program in Washington DC called DCTAG (DC Tuition Assistance Grant) which can help with your tuition fees.

Namely, DCTAG can help with up to $2,500 yearly for two-year colleges nationwide, and up to $10,000 for four-year colleges.

Option number two – there are accredited schools across the country that have “distance education” (DE) programs, which means that the major part of your classwork is done over the internet and you are in charge of arranging your free time and your general schedule.

You’ll have to be much more responsible than you’d be otherwise, because you’ll have to arrange your classwork, talk to the vets that will help you with classes that require lab work, etc.

As for your final internship that requires actual lab work and practice, you’re the one that chooses how to arrange those, too, so you’re gonna have to be disciplined and make sure that credits and degree credentials are transferrable back to the DC area.

Option number three – is basically combining options one and two, which can be done in many ways, all depending on your means, schedule and what works best for you.

For example, you can finish all your prerequisites at your local two-year or four-year college before you jump on the distance-education bandwagon.

Whatever road you choose, you should get thoroughly informed on each of the program’s website before you decide what’s best for you.

Tuition and Financial Aid

It is hart to estimate an average tuition fee because of the various ways and combinations you can choose in your education for a vet technician in DC.

What you definitely should do is visit each of the schools’ websites and there you can find thorough information about tuition fees.

You can always apply to traditional financial aid benefits (like grants, scholarships, loans, veterans benefits) that are accessible to all college students across the country, starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You also have the option of Veterans benefits. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for all the information.

Veterans benefits usually include programs for dependents and family members of a veteran.

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Licensing and Certification

Remember when we talked about how it’s important that you graduate from a program accredited by the the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities?

Well, here’s why: if the program you graduated from isn’t accredited, you can’t take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is an exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

And you need this one in order to work as a licensed vet technician in DC. It’s an exam that takes three hours to complete, has 150 questions and costs $300.

And that’s not all. You’ll also have to take the Washington DC State Board Examination. After you’re done with that exam, you can relax because you’ve just become a licensed vet technician in DC!

Salaries for Vet Technicians in District of Columbia

According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the employment of workers in animal healthcare is expected to grow by a whopping 30% per year through 2022, so your job prospects are bright!

Here are current average salaries of vet technicians in District of Columbia.

LocationAvg. Annual Salary

Final Words

After reading this and realizing that planning your education might be a bit more complicated than you thought due to the fact that there is no accredited veterinary technology program in DC, you might feel discouraged.

Don’t be, because through all the hard work, commuting to your neighboring states or taking classes online, in the end you’ll feel more fulfilled than most do in their professions.

You’ve chosen a career that is solely based on helping others, and succeeded in a complicated education system. Congrats!

USA How to Become a Vet Tech by State