Many overseas veterinary technicians travel and work in the United States. The most important things to be aware of are that:
Veterinary technicians are regulated by state, and credentialing requirements and permitted tasks vary. Many states require graduation from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and successful completion of the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) for credentialing.
Visitors from most other countries will require a visa to work in the United States.
What national veterinary technician qualifications are available?
There are two nationally recognized academic veterinary nursing / technician degrees available in the United States:
Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology (BS)
Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology (AS)
As of January 2016, there are a total of 231 AVMA accredited programs, of which 23 offer a BS degree, and 9 are distance learning. There are no AVMA accredited programs in the state of Alaska, District of Columbia, or Montana.
Those with the above degrees qualify to take the VTNE to qualify for credentialing.
Credential governance of veterinary technicians are instituted at the state level, and are of variable status.
- No credentialing – There is no regulation by private or governmental entities.
- Voluntary credentialing – Private organizations, such as the state veterinary technician association has instituted voluntary credentialing, scope of practice, and enforce maintenance requirements.
- Compulsory credentialing – A governmental agency governs the credentials and dictates the scope of practice through legislated practice acts.
Those with voluntary credentialing are typically termed Certified Veterinary Technicians, or CVT.
Those with compulsory credentialing can be termed Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVT), or Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVT) depending on the degree of status placed on the credential.
In the state of Tennessee, the credential is called Licensed Veterinary Medical Technician, or LVMT.
Do I need to hold the credential (i.e. be registered) to be able to work as a veterinary technician?
This varies by state. In states that have written title protection for veterinary technicians in the practice act, the credential is required to practice as a veterinary technician to perform tasks as outlined in the state’s practice act.
In states without title protection, or states that lack verbiage regarding veterinary technicians in the practice act, a non-credentialed individual can perform the same job task as a credentialed veterinary technician.
Will my overseas veterinary technician qualification be recognized?
Recognition of overseas qualifications vary by state and the language of the practice act. Some states will grant reciprocity in credentialing, with most requiring a passing score of the VTNE. Some states specify the need for graduation from an AVMA accredited program, thereby preventing transferring of overseas qualifications.
Checking with the state’s veterinary medical board for reciprocity policies is recommended.
How do I find work as a veterinary technician?
Employment opportunities for veterinary technician can be found in a number of ways; advertisements in newspapers, employment section of the AVMA or NAVTA website, veterinary employment companies, classified sections in veterinary magazines / journals and word of mouth. Alternatively you can deliver your resume to veterinary clinics to hold on file in case any opportunities arise.
How do I find out about pay and working conditions?
In the first instance, this information should be available through your employer. You and your employer will need to negotiate a contract and a job description for your employment (the job description is often included as part of the contract). You should receive a summary of your pay and deductions every pay day.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics periodically publishes census information of professions, with the most recent report published in May 2014.
Is there a national association for veterinary technicians?
Yes, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) is the national body for veterinary technicians in the United States. See www.navta.net for more information.
Can I be a registered / listed veterinary technician if I have an overseas qualification?
The requirement varies from state to state, and each state’s credentialing body should be contacted for the most up-to-date information. The information on the credentialing organization for specific states can be obtained by contacting NAVTA at www.navta.net.
What are the immigration requirements to work as a veterinary technician?
In order to work in the United States international visitors will require either a work or residency visa.
Contact your local United States Embassy or visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website (https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/working-us)for more information.