How to Become a Veterinary Technician in Pennsylvania

What makes you a great candidate for a successful career in the veterinary profession is being good in dealing with pets and people.

And if, as an addition, you love animals and are interested in this type of career, than you should definitely try and pursue this, undoubtedly noble, career.

This is a perfect job for people truly commited to animals, because their desire to work with and help animals drives them through the day and makes them surpass all the downsides and the challenges that the job of a vet technician brings.

If this all sounds like something you can do every day, then a career of a veterinarian technician is definitely for you.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Pennsylvania

Many future vet technicians wonder what exactly falls under their future duties and what their job description is.

A veterinary technician is a para-professional in a veterinary practice, and unlike veterinary assistants, they are allowed to treat animals medically under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

As for how the job of a vet technician looks like, just think of a nurse in a human hospital.

This means that, much like a nurse to a doctor, you’ll have to assist the vet in many clinical examinations, and you’ll be in charge of attending animals (and their owners) from the moment they step into the clinic to the moment they leave.

Here are some of your obligations as a vet technician in a private practice in Pennsylvania:

  • performing all kinds of analyses of the animal’s bodily fluids and discharge
  • physical examinations that lead to further diagnostics of the disease or illness
  • inducing and maintaining anesthesia
  • applying medications, fluids and blood products following the veterinarians’ instructions
  • taking the pet’s body temperature
  • monitoring pulse and respiration
  • addressing injuries and sometimes applying first aid

There’s also the most important duty you’ll have: assisting the veterinarian in surgeries and helping them with whatever is needed.

During the surgeries, you’ll be expected to supply the vet with the equipment they might need and make sure everything is working properly!

How to Become One?

It’s very important to know the actual steps you need to take to become a part of the career you covet: in this case a registered veterinary technician in Pennsylvania.

First and foremost, you need to graduate from an accredited program by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). 

In Pennsylvania, this means attending one of the nine (there are as many as nine of them in your country!) colleges that offer accredited programs in veterinary technology.

After you’ve done this, you’ll have to take the VTNE exam, for which you’ll be eligible only when you become a graduate from an accredited program.

Once you have passed the VTNE, you have to apply for licensure by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

It is only after this application has been approved, that you will be able to practice as a licensed veterinary technician.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in Pennsylvania

Given that veterinary technology is a science based profession – it’s no surprise that the subjects you’ll need to attend within the accredited program you’ve enrolled into are too.

So, if your high school education was not focused on sciences (math, biology, chemistry), you’ll be required to take some prerequisite courses before application.

Test scores on ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer might be required too, and that applies to an interview, too.

One thing that all schools will require is a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalency.

As for the subjects you can expect once you’re in the program, these will be based on science and medicine and more vet-focused, like the following:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • terminology
  • nursing skills
  • small and large animal diseases
  • radiology
  • anesthesiology
  • parasitology
  • hematology
  • clinical skills

There will also be lab work where you can put to use what you’ve learned in theory classes.

Your last semester will be an internship at one of your local vet clinics, where you can combine your theoretic and practical knowledge and apply them on actual animals, as well as learn what it’s like to be a vet technician on a day-to-day basis.

Tuition and Financial Aid

“Okay, that’s all fine, but how much will this cost?” – you must be wondering.

Given that Pennsylvania has such a huge number of colleges that offer these accredited programs, it also has a broad range of tuition rates.

You can attend the entire program for anywhere from $20,000 to over $60,000, depending on the school you’re interested in.

This is why it’s best to visit each of the schools’ websites to find out everything you need to know about the costs.

Like everywhere across the country, traditional financial aids are available for Pennsylvania students too, and you can apply for any of them, if you meet the criteria.

You can apply to almost every financial aid program starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Pennsylvania also has its own state-sponsored financial aid programs, and you can find out more about them by visiting the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

And, of course, don’t forget to visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  for the types of aid included in the programs for dependents and family members of a veteran.

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Licensing and Certification

We’ve already mentioned that after you graduate, you’ll have to take the VTNE test, and here you’ll find out more about it.

The VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) is an exam you have to take in order to become a licensed veterinary technician in Pennsylvania.

This is why it’s so important that you’ve graduated from an accredited program, because only those with a degree from an accredited vet technology program are eligible to take this test.

The VTNE exam isn’t easy though – it contains 150 questions, lasts for three hours and costs 300$.

After you’ve taken this test, you must apply for a license by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Finally, after this application has been approved, you’ll become a licensed veterinary technician.

In order to keep your license current, you’ll need to complete 16 hours of approved continuing education every two years.

Getting a Job in Pennsylvania

After you’re done with all that is needed to educate yourself and get the much needed experience to become a vet technician, you can start looking for a job!

There’s an increasing number of facilities, hospitals and clinics that will likely offer you a job in Pennsylvania.

Here are the known ones:

Salaries for Vet Technicians in Pennsylvania

Though the word is getting through that vet technicians aren’t sufficiently paid, you’ll be glad to hear that this is a job with a good perspective in Pennsylvania.

And here’s how we know that.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of workers in animal healthcare is expected to grow 30% per year through 2022.

This is probably due to the fact that there is an increasing number of pet owners in America every year.

Here are the average salaries for vet technicians across Pennsylvania:

LocationAvg. Annual Salary
State College,PA$27,751
West Chester,PA$31,635
Wilkes Barre,PA$27,294

Final Words

Now, we’ve been over everything you might need if you’re truly interested in this career. It is good to remember two more things.

First of all, this is a job with its share of challenges and downsides.

However, all the patience you need to endure standing on your feet for a large portion of the day, as well as concentration and focus during important surgeries – won’t be that hard for you, if you’ve started doing this job out of love for animals.

For those who truly love animals and want to devote themselves to this profession, a job of a vet technician is a dream, with all its challenges.

The second piece of advice for anyone thinking about starting this career is – always invest your time in informing yourself about this profession and the prior education, and do it thoroughly.

Because if you’ve decided to venture into this profession, one thing is certain – you’ll want to know all the details before you start making a living out of helping animals.


USA How to Become a Vet Tech by State