How to Become a Vet Tech in California
Veterinary technicians serve as a vital link between vets and their patients. By embarking on a career as a vet tech, you’ll witness firsthand the transformative impact of your efforts when providing essential care for animals in need, granting pets and their owners comfort and expertise.
Education & Training
How Long Does it Take?
For an associate degree program, it can take 9 to 12 months based on your pace of study. Additionally, the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is administered during 3 exam windows throughout the year, so it may take additional time following registration to complete the exam and apply for licensing.
How Much Does it Cost?
The cost of education to become a veterinary technician may vary depending on the course type and duration, and the institution prospective vet techs seek their education. Veterinary technician training programs at vocational colleges may cost $8,000 for the entire program duration. This may range between $1,599 and $1,999 per semester.
What Will You Study?
Educational programs for veterinary technicians will address the following:
- Exam Preparation: Students will be prepared for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
- Anatomy & Physiology: The anatomical and physiological structure of animals, including education on their various anatomical systems and ailments.
- Veterinary Procedures: Procedures and protocols for tending to large and small animals, including any medicine and equipment, as well as lab testing and evaluations.
- Client Interactions: Skills training in communicating with clients and collaborating effectively with a veterinary team.
Benefits of Taking a Course
Taking an educational course when training to become a veterinary technician is vital for gaining the appropriate accreditation and certification required to seek employment.
California requires prospective veterinary technicians to complete education from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA)-accredited Registered Veterinary Technician program or a California Veterinary Medical Board program (VMB).
Consequently, completing a certified training program satisfies the state’s educational requirement and prepares you for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) as well–another requirement for prospective vet techs.
Future vet techs may also need to complete clinical rotations to gain experience; taking an accredited course may help students satisfy that requirement through partnerships with veterinary hospitals, enabling students to gain work experience while still in school. Many courses are also offered online, granting students with busy schedules the flexibility they need to succeed in their education and career.
The average salary for vet techs in California is $45,000 annually, or approximately $25 per hour, according to indeed.com. This salary is competitive compared to the national average income for veterinary technicians, at nearly 23% higher.
Furthermore, senior veterinary technicians in California may earn up to as much as $62,000 a year, or $34.04 per hour–a considerably higher wage than the national average for the job.
Salaries for California’s largest 5 cities are as follows:
- Los Angeles: $25.44/hr or $46,262/year
- San Diego: $24.25/hr, $44,117/year
- San Jose: $26.64/hr, $48,452/year
- San Fransisco: $31.31/hr, $56,945/year
- Fresno: $19.05/hr, $34,642/year
State Certifications and Exams
Licensing requirements to become a vet tech may vary drastically depending on the state. Some states may additionally have educational needs and apprenticeship or clinical training requirements before students and licensed vet techs can work independently.
California has multiple requirements prospective vet techs must fulfill before taking qualifying exams and seeking a license. The state requires vet techs to complete a course or graduate from an institute accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) or a program or school accredited by the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB).
Furthermore, prospective veterinary technicians must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to qualify for a license application. California additionally requires students to complete 20 hours of continuing education per year to maintain licensing.
Following the acquisition of a license, veterinary technicians may additionally need to fulfill clinic hours to seek employment, both due to state requirements and individual requirements from employers. Licensed vet techs may also seek externships to obtain additional training beyond their prior education, which may serve as a job lead.
A career as a vet tech is in high demand–according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is expected to grow by 20% over the next decade–nearly quadruple the growth rate of most jobs. The career has a competitive cost of education compared to other vocations.
Vet techs in California earn competitive salaries in comparison to the rest of the country, and the state offers flexible educational and training requirement options for prospective students. Pursuing a career as a vet tech is an excellent investment and a highly-regarded profession, offering both a competitive salary and an impactful career that can truly make a difference in pets’–and their owners’–lives.