Veterinary Technician Specialist

Who are Veterinary Technician Specialists?

While many Veterinary Technologists/Technicians have fulfilling careers working as generalists in the field, others have a keen interest in a particular area of animal medicine and specific skills they want to apply. For those Registered Veterinary Technologists/Technicians, becoming a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) is the right path.

A VTS is a Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician who has a specialization in a specific area of veterinary medicine. Here’s a list of the specializations:

Approved Veterinary Technician Specialties
  • Dental Technician
  • Anesthesia and Analgesia
  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Veterinary Behaviour Technician
  • Veterinary Zoological Medicine
  • Equine Veterinary Nursing Technician
  • Veterinary Surgical Technician
  • Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technician
  • Veterinary Ophthalmic Technician
  • Veterinary Technician in Diagnostic Imaging
  • Veterinary Technician in Clinical Practice
  • Veterinary Nutrition Technician
  • Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technician
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Dermatology Technician

Career planning

To become a Veterinary Technician Specialist, you must:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Graduate from an accredited degree program in Veterinary Technology
  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination
  • Obtain your RVT
  • Get experience in a specialty
  • Take continuing education in a specialty
  • Apply to a National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America recognized academy (Note: Each academy has specific requirements a Veterinary Technician must complete before taking the VTS credentialing exams so find out directly from the academy what is required.)
Considering becoming a VTS?

It’s important to keep in mind the following considerations when planning your career:

  • Opportunities to get the experience required in the specialty you select depend on where you live. For example, if you live in a small town, there might not be someone practicing the specialty you’re interested in.
  • You may need to relocate to another city/province to gain the experience required to qualify to become a VTS within your chosen specialty.
  • You will need to have access to training and experience in your selected discipline with specifically designated mentors.
  • Travel to the U.S may be required for VTS examination; a valid passport is necessary.

Continuing education

Continuing education is integral to being the best RVT you can and staying on top of the ever changing area of veterinary medicine. It’s also a key component to maintaining your registration status (see “Becoming an RVT” for more information).

There are many ways you can continue to learn and upgrade your knowledge: take a course offered by an accredited institution (some courses are available online while others require you to be there in person); attend accredited industry conferences; take part in webinars; etc.

Continuing education is also a requirement for maintaining Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician status. Check with your provincial association’s regulations for specific details.

Course offerings change regularly so keep checking the Registered Veterinary Technologists and Technicians of Canada’s continuing education portal.

RVTTC continuing
education portal

This online education portal has hundreds of online courses on a variety of veterinary related topics. Register and create your profile to access the most relevant courses for you. You’ll be able to track, record and submit both online and live events. Tune in often to see new courses as they become available.

Education & experience

Each area of specialization has its own accreditation and accreditation requirements. Research the academy as part of your planning process.


Typical application materials to earn a VTS designation include:

  • Completed application with work experience, including proof of 1,000-10,000 hours of experience in the specialty area
  • Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician, Certified Veterinary Technician, or Licensed Veterinary Technician credentials
  • 40+ hours of continuing education related to the specialization
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Skills assessment signed by a supervisor
  • Case logs
  • Detailed case studies
  • Passing score on a specialized exam
  • Application fee
  • Exam fee

Specialization academies


Each specialty necessitates that you have experience as an RVT and some exposure to the discipline of your choice. The experience needed for each area of specialization differs so it’s important to find out what it entails before heading down the path.

As an example, here’s what’s required for a Veterinary Nutrition Specialist:

  • Graduation from a recognized school of Veterinary Technology.
  • Three years (a minimum of 4,000 hours) work experience or its equivalent in the field of animal nutrition, clinical or research based. All experience must be completed within three years prior to the application.
  • A minimum of 40 continuing education hours related to veterinary nutrition, animal nutrition, or nutrition research.


Each area of specialization has its own accreditation and accreditation requirements. Research the academy as part of your planning. Looking into the process and what’s involved will set you up to be prepared and to make the right choice.

Skills & knowledge

On top of the skills and knowledge required to be an RVT (see Becoming an RVT for more information), a VTS must develop skills and knowledge specific to their area of specialization. Do your research with the specialization academy you’re interested in exploring to find out what more you’ll need to be the specialist you dream of being.

Compensation & hours


As in every profession, there are a number of factors that influence compensation, including: what specialty you are practicing; if you have your own practice or are working at a veterinary clinic; the province or territory you’re practicing in; the number of years you’ve been practicing; the size of practice where you’re working; the type of practice; whether you’re practicing in an urban or rural setting; and external factors such as supply and demand and the country’s overall economic situation. A VTS can earn from $28-$40 an hour.


Like in many other professions, a VTS’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 a VTS in veterinary practice, or one in independent practice, working overtime is quite common.

Lifestyle & wellness

Being a VTS is a passion for many RVTs. 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 VTSs should be aware of:

  • VTSs 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 employee safety.
  • Being a VTS 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 not all VTSs face these challenges.
  • Burnout and compassion fatigue can be experienced.
Full length portrait of white Labrador dog waiting at vet clinic with young woman talking to veterinarian in background, copy space

Contact a VTS

We are here to help! If you have questions about the VTS profession, please get in touch!

Contact a mentor

The mentors you’ll find here are volunteering their time and expertise to promote the VTS profession and support those interested in learning more about the possibilities.