Becoming an RVT
Learn about becoming a Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician in Canada
To become a Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician in Canada, you must have developed a standard of knowledge and skills by graduating from an accredited post-secondary program in Animal Health, Veterinary Technology or Veterinary Technician, and successfully passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
Each provincial veterinary regulatory body may have additional conditions to become a Registered Veterinary Technologist or Technician.
Veterinary Technology or Technician graduates who received their education internationally must contact their residing provincial regulatory or licensing body regarding requirements to practice.
Training for a career as an RVT includes two to three years of post-secondary education. In Canada, Animal Health Technology/Technician, Veterinary Technologist/Technician post-secondary programs are accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), and in Ontario also by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). Aside from requiring certain vaccinations such as rabies and tetanus, each institution has their own registration and acceptance criteria so it’s important to check with the institution where you want to study.
Veterinary Technologist/Technician programs are available across the country
- Grande Prairie Regional College, Fairview
- Lakeland College, Vermilion
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Edmonton
- Olds College, Olds
- Red River College, Various campuses across Manitoba
- Algonquin College, Ottawa
- Georgian College, Orillia
- Northern College, Haileybury
- Seneca College, King City
- St. Clair College, Windsor
- St. Lawrence College, Kingston
- Sheridan College, Brampton
- Boreal College, Various campuses across Ontario
- University of Guelph, Ridgetown
- Oulton College, Moncton
- Dalhousie University, Truro
- Vanier College, St-Laurent
- Saskatchewan Polytechnic College, Saskatoon
- Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops
Veterinary medical training for RVTs includes nine primary subject areas:
- Emergency medicine
- Pharmacy and pharmacology
- Pain management and analgesia
- Laboratory procedures
- Diagnostic imaging
- Animal care and nursing
- Surgical nursing
Veterinary Technician National Examination
The Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) is required by all provincial Veterinary Technician associations to obtain Registered Veterinary Technician/Technologists (RVT) status.
The VTNE is owned and administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The VTNE is used to evaluate an entry-level veterinary technicians’ competency to practice and be credentialed. The computer-based exam is offered during three testing windows a year. The exam is administered at Prometric Testing Centers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
For information to prepare for the VTNE, consult www.aavsb.org/VTNE.
In Canada, legislative authority to regulate the practice of professions and trades is a provincial responsibility.
Provincial veterinary technician associations are responsible for the registration of RVT’s in their province. Some provinces are partnered with their Veterinary Medical Association in this process. It’s important to contact the regulatory body in the province where you’re planning to reside to find out about the province’s specific requirement and the steps necessary to become an RVT in that province.
Every provincial association uses a standardized national exam — the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) — and requires graduation from an accredited program that trains technicians as part of the registration criteria. Get in touch with the individual provincial RVT/VT associations to find out if they recognize foreign Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) diplomas. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials has additional information.
Maintaining your RVT status
RVTs are required to accumulate 15-20 continuing education hours over a one to two year period and maintain membership in their provincial association in order to maintain their registered status. Individuals who have attained their RVT status need to follow the requirements of their provincial organization in order to maintain their RVT status. If any part of the requirements are not met, the individual might lose their RVT status and need to rewrite the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
Note: Files cannot be updated if membership is not kept current.
Skills & knowledge
The graduate has reliably demonstrated the ability to:
- Perform basic patient examinations and collect data on vital signs.
- Restrain and manage small animals in clinical situations.
- Administer medications by common drug routes and prepare pharmaceuticals as prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Prepare anesthetic delivery systems, induce anesthesia, and monitor patients under anesthesia.
- Prepare and maintain the surgical area and assist during surgical procedures.
- Perform dental prophylactic procedures on dogs and cats.
- Produce standard diagnostic radiographs.
- Collect and process samples for diagnostic laboratory work.
- Perform common veterinary diagnostic tests, such as blood chemistries, differentials, culture and sensitivities and EKGs.
- Perform basic veterinary practice management including computer applications.
- Recognize behavioural signs of small animals.
- Counsel clients especially in pet training, drug administration, nutrition and much more.
- Identify and apply discipline-specific practices and behaviour that contribute to the local and global community through social responsibility, economic commitment and environmental stewardship.
Lifestyle & wellness
Being an RVT is a passion for many practitioners. This passion can have both a positive and negative impact on a person’s lifestyle — it can be motivating, rewarding and engaging, but can also be all consuming, emotionally draining and tuning out at the end of a work day can be challenging for many.
Here are a few aspects of the profession that RVTs should be aware of:
- RVTs in a veterinary practice have a physically demanding job, from being on their feet most of the day, to long shifts, to lifting animals as heavy as 22 kilograms. When an animal exceeds 22 kilograms, more than one person is required for workplace safety.
- Being an RVT is an emotionally demanding profession as well: dealing with sick animals; upset and grieving pet owners; being passionate and wanting to have a positive impact on the well-being of an animal. To help mitigate these demands, provincial RVT associations, the Registered Veterinary Technologists and Technicians of Canada and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association emphasize healthy work teams, the importance of mental health, and have mental health resources available. It’s important to note that many RVTs do not face these challenges and have rewarding and meaningful careers.
- Burnout and compassion fatigue can be experienced.
Compensation & hours
It’s tricky to talk about compensation for RVTs. As an RVT, you can take your career in so many directions. Because of this, depending on your occupation, on where you live in the country and other factors, you can earn from $25-$33 an hour.
Most often when talking about compensation for RVTs, it’s for those who work in veterinary practice. Many factors influence compensation for an RVT in veterinary practice:
- The province or territory you’re practicing in.
- The number of years you’ve been practicing.
- Your specializations; the size of practice where you’re working.
- The type of practice.
- Whether you’re practicing in an urban or rural setting.
- External factors such as supply and demand and the country’s overall economic situation.
Check out this Government of Canada website to get a salary breakdown by province.
Like in many other professions, an RVT’s work week is based on an average of eight hours a day for a total of 40 hours a week. Because of the nature of the work for an RVT in veterinary practice and the fact that practices often have extended hours with a few shifts (e.g., open Saturdays, evenings, 24-hours), working overtime is quite common.
Registered Veterinary Technologists and Technicians of Canada
The RVTTC is the national industry association focused on harmonizing standards of RVT skills in animal care for public safety, education, and career pathways for all RVTs, no matter where they live, learn or work. Our focus is working with the VT associations to unite, strengthen and advance the RVT profession. For more information, visit www.rvttcanada.ca.
Provincial Veterinary Technologist/Technician Associations
RVTs practicing in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon Territory who wish to voluntarily register with a veterinary technology association can complete new registrations with the British Columbia Veterinary Technologists Association (BCVTA); or in the case of renewals, can maintain registration under their previously registered provincial association, as appropriate.
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the voice of the Canadian veterinary profession in promoting animal welfare to ensure optimal care for animals, people and the environment.
The CVMA’s AHT/VT Program Accreditation Committee identifies and accredits animal health technology and veterinary technician education programs whose graduates are considered to be competent to successfully complete the National Veterinary Technician Exam, and assist veterinarians in clinical practice.
To learn more visit www.canadianveterinarians.net.
Tools & resources
This section features links to tools and resources to help support and guide you as you navigate your career.
Contact an RVT
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