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What is an RVT?

A Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician (RVT) is a person who has successfully
– graduated from a Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Accredited Animal Health Technology (AHT) or Veterinary Technology (VT) College program
– completed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) and
– met all the registration requirements identified by their provincial AHT or VT Association and their provincial Veterinary Medical Association

The term Technician vs. Technologist is used interchangeably with no acknowledged difference other than geographical preference ( i.e. western provinces = technologists, eastern provinces = technician).

What can an RVT do?

The RVT in Canada is authorized to perform many veterinary medical duties including but not limited to anesthesia, radiology, pharmacy, parasitology, hematology, urinalysis, and surgical and dental assistance under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

The scope of duties performed may require adaptation, continuing education, and change with advancements in technology and is regulated by provincial veterinary legislation.

An RVT can follow a number of career pathways, including work in a veterinary clinic, in wildlife rehabilitation, as an animal protection officer, in research, in laboratory animal care, as a nutrition consultant, in a pathology laboratory, and many others.

Where can I become an RVT?

It is recommended that students have financial support in place to ensure they are not required to both works and attend college at the same time.  The academic program is challenging.

What high school courses do I need to apply to?

Potential students should check the specific requirements for the specific programs they are interested in but below is a general guideline of requirements.

  • Grade 12 with a minimum of 70% in each of the following subjects: Biology 30, Chemistry 30, and Foundations of Math 30 or Pre-Calculus 30*
  • A combined average of 70% in English Language Arts A30 and English Language Arts B30
  • 60 hours of documented veterinarian-supervised volunteer or work experience
  • Completion of mandatory orientation
  • English Language Requirement

What do RVTs wish they knew before they applied to College?

– For many colleges before you can apply you have to have a number of volunteer hours in a veterinary clinic. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a veterinary clinic to let you volunteer so if you are interested you should start looking early.  Once you do find a veterinary clinic make sure that you are using those hours to really understand the work that RVTs do.

– Being admitted into a program can take a couple of years depending on the college you are applying to.  If you do find yourself on a waitlist it is recommended that you use those years to better prepare for a career as an RVT through volunteering, online courses, and developing skills such as teamwork and time management that are essential.

– The schooling required to be an RVT is an intense two-year program.  The program schedule is not similar to university schedules and has 3-4 terms a year with 6-9 courses a term.  Time management will be critical to your success.

– After successful completion of the program you are not automatically an RVT you must first be registered with your provincial veterinary technology and/or veterinary medical associations AND have passed the national exam.

– Having the financial support in place to not have to work and do school at the same time is recommended as many students struggle to complete the program and work at the same time.

– As an RVT you have the opportunity to have a number of jobs.  You could work in a veterinary clinic, wildlife rehabilitation, and animal protection officer, in research, nutrition consultant, pathology, and many others!

– As an RVT you will be educated in microbiology, administering and dispensing pharmaceuticals, radiology, dentistry, diagnostic laboratory tests, emergency & first aid, behaviour and animal welfare, anesthesiology, surgery, and anatomy and physiology.  All of these skills mean that no two days in the veterinary industry are the same for RVTs.

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