So you’re finished with your studies and can officially call yourself a veterinarian or veterinary technician. But after earning your degree and completing your training, there is one last thing to do before you can begin putting all your well-earned knowledge into action – get the necessary certification.
Although certification is not required by law in order to practice, it is very common that veterinarians earn this qualification in order to emphasize their expertise in the field. As the official requirements for obtaining certification differ from state to state, it is recommended that you have a look at the American Veterinary Medical Association to find out what will be required in your state of residency.
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners
The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) offers specialist certification to veterinarians who focus on companion animals, food animals, cattle and horses. To receive the appropriate license, you are first required to demonstrate that you know how to care for the animals. After this, you will be asked take an exam and put together a medical report which highlights your knowledge and judgement in veterinary medicine.
You might also want to look into getting appropriate licensing for the particular sort of veterinary medicine that you will practice. If your training has been specific to one treatment field, then you should address the appropriate professional organization in order to get suitable certification. For instance, the American Veterinary Dental College or the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists both have specialized certificates.
You can receive certification specific to the animal group that you have been trained to care for as well. If you choose to do so, you should contact the association relevant to your patient type, for example the American College of Poultry Veterinarians or the American College of Zoological Medicine.
Veterinary Technician Licensing
The Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) is the most common exam to take. It offers licensing that demonstrates a veterinary technician’s expertise and competency in the field, ensuring that she or he can be trusted to practice.
The VTNE exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Once you've taken the exam and received the grade, your final score determines whether you will receive appropriate licensing. The exam is put together by veterinarians and vet techs of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and cover all major areas of entry-level veterinary medicine and technology practice. The exam takes up to four hours to complete. There are three examination windows, during which you may sit for the exam. The first spans from the 15th of July to the 15th of August. The second is from the 15th November to the 15th of December. The third starts on the 15th of March, and goes through to the 15th of April. Applications are accepted at any time.
The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) features an entire section on how to efficiently prepare for the VTNE test. There, you can find online practice tests which are specifically designed to assess your strengths and weaknesses so that you know what to focus on when studying for the final exam. Or check out our free VTNE practice questions.
The AAVSB does not issue certifications to vet techs. This is something that you need to apply for after sitting the test and receiving your final passing score. As every state has different rules and has established different requirements concerning veterinary technician licensing and registrations, contact your state by consulting the Board and Agency Directory. This way, you will find out how to go about getting your credential once you have taken the exam.
Finally, keep in mind that some states may require you to sit for a state-specific exam which will cover laws, rules and conditions that veterinarians and vet techs should be familiar with in order to practice veterinary medicine in that state. As the rules are different everywhere, make sure that you know exactly what the procedure is in your area.