How to Become a Veterinary Technician in Virginia

Having engless amounts of love for animals is the first and most crucial step towards a career in veterinary sciences.

Of course, it goes without saying that this love for animals could be put to good use only if it goes hand in hand with an actual and genuine interest in veterinary vocation.

If you have both of these,  than you should definitely try and pursue this, undoubtedly noble, career.

This is a job that perfectly fits those that are 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.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Virginia

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, well – like the job of a nurse in a human hospital.

This means that 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 Virginia:

  • 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!

Oh, and don’t forget the least pleasant duties you’ll have: cleaning up after the animals, disinfecting their cages and unfortunately, assisting in administering euthanasia.

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 Virginia.

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 Virginia, this means attending one of the three 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 Virginia

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.

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

The vet schools in Virginia also have modern and contemporary labs and facilities where students can gain practical skills and work with animals like dairy cattle, horses, cats, chickens, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, turkeys, rodents, ferrets, reptiles, birds and many others.

If you want to, you also have the chance to work with lab animals including mice, rats and guinea pigs as well as exotic animals like eagles, lizards, snakes, owls, hawks, vultures, eagles, and hawks.

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

Now the part where we tell you how much this all costs.

Given that Virginia has three colleges that offer these accredited programs, it’s only logical that they vary widely depending on the school you’ve set your mind onto.

You can attend the entire program for anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, 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).

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.

Popular Degree Programs

Licensing and Certification

We’ve already brought up the fact 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 Virginia.

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 do not have to take a jurisprudence test but you will be required to sign a statement stating that you are aware of the laws of Virginia and how they relate to the practice and duties of the veterinary technician.

According to Virginia laws, you must renew your license annually in order to continue practicing as a vet tech in the state.

This means you have to pay the renewal fees and submit the proof of completion of no less than 6 hours of continuing education every year.

Getting a Job in Virginia

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 Virginia.

Here are the known ones:

Salaries for Vet Technicians in Virginia

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 Virginia.

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 Virginia:

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Alexandria,VA $32,978
Annandale,VA $32,978
Arlington,VA $32,978
Centreville,VA $32,859
Chesapeake,VA $27,881
Hampton,VA $27,774
Lynchburg,VA $27,186
Newport News,VA $27,774
Norfolk,VA $27,917
Petersburg,VA $29,470
Portsmouth,VA $27,917
Reston,VA $32,918
Richmond,VA $29,723
Roanoke,VA $27,364
Suffolk,VA $27,796
Virginia Beach,VA $28,358

Final Words

If you’ve read all this and still think this would be the career for you, then get ready to join this noble vocation.

You will become a member of a team consisting of veterinarians, other veterinary technicians, technologists and veterinary assistants that represent a group of people fond of animals and willing to help them.

If you’re an animal love and passionate about their wellbeing, you will love your job, surrounded by other people that all have the same goal and whose mutual aim is animal.

USA How to Become a Veterinary Technician by State