The Registered Veterinary Technician and Animal Care

Registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) are educated and trained professionals who practice animal health care alongside veterinarians and scientists. By performing diagnostic procedures, administering treatments and monitoring patients, the RVT allows the veterinarian to provide a higher level of care to all animals. This growing profession offers challenging careers for motivated individuals with an interest in animal medicine and welfare. Some of the varied opportunities available to RVTs are outlined in this brochure.

Small Animal Medicine

Statistically, most RVTs are employed in private veterinary practices that provide services for companion animals. These individuals work primarily with dogs and cats, but also care for birds, rabbits, and other small animals. The RVT’s responsibilities are challenging and varied. They include: critical care nursing, administering medications to patients, applying bandages and splints, collecting and analyzing laboratory samples, producing radiographs, inducing and monitoring anesthesia, providing dental care and assisting in surgery. RVTs are actively involved in counseling clients about health care, nutrition, and the human animal bond.

Equine Medicine

RVTs are employed by equine practitioners and provide many of the same medical services for horses that are received by small animals. These individuals often work outdoors, as many of the diagnostic procedures and treatments are administered in the field. More involved treatments and surgeries occur at large, modern equine hospitals. Some RVTs work at racetracks, endurance rides and other equine events.

Food Animal Medicine

Veterinary practices that serve farms and ranches employ technicians to collect laboratory samples and administer vaccines for food animal species such as cattle, swine and sheep. RVTs with specialized training are in high demand by the dairy and beef industries to assist with herd health and artificial insemination.

Zoo/Wildlife Medicine

RVTs employed in zoos may work as keepers or assist in medical facilities and nurseries. RVTs may be utilized as research technicians in wildlife breeding centers or natural habitats. Wildlife education and rehabilitation is also an important aspect of this field. This career offers the chance to develop specialized skills and interact with rare and beautiful creatures.

Lab Animal Medicine

RVTs can find several promising career opportunities in the area of laboratory animal medicine. They work in universities, hospitals and private industry, ensuring the physical health and psychological well being of research animals. Many others provide training and technical support for animal studies. With experience, RVTs can attain positions as supervisors and managers monitoring the day-to-day operations of an animal facility. One of the most exciting aspects of this field is the chance to perform cutting-edge research using state of the art equipment.

Regulatory Medicine

This varied field employs RVTs to protect the well being of animals. RVTs working for animal control agencies provide medical care for stray animals and educate the public about responsible pet ownership. RVTs may also work for agencies that inspect farms, kennels, pet stores, veterinary hospitals and research facilities to assure humane and healthful conditions.


One of the most rewarding experiences for RVTs is to be able to share their knowledge. RVTs are employed by colleges and universities to teach prospective technicians and veterinarians. They may also be involved in instructing high school students and introducing children to the world of veterinary medicine.

Veterinary Practice Management

The experienced RVT may assume the responsibilities of administrating an entire veterinary hospital: hiring and training personnel, maintaining inventory and devising programs to provide better service. They may also assure that the practice conforms to government regulations and analyze financial data. This is a stimulating position for creative individuals who enjoy a leadership role.

Veterinary Product Marketing

Manufacturers and distributors of veterinary drugs, supplies, equipment and pet foods are constantly seeking RVTs to add to their sales force. Because of their background knowledge of animal care procedures, technicians are well suited to discuss the merits of new products with veterinarians and their staff. Individuals in this area may work as customer service representatives, over the telephone or in person, processing orders and providing information to veterinary facilities. They may also conduct educational seminars marketing new products and equipment.

RVT Roads to Certification Alternate Workbook

The CVMA RVT Committee has developed a workbook listing all routes to RVT certification with detailed information on the Alternate Route to Certification. It fully outlines the requirements as well as lists sample test questions, suggested reading materials and the Veterinary Medical Board’s Task List. Order an RVT Roads to Certification Workbook online or phone the CVMA office.

Professional Organizations

Registered Veterinary Technicians in California have an opportunity to participate in organized veterinary medicine by joining their professional associations. On a local level, many communities have regional RVT associations. The CVMA RVT Committee represents RVTs on a statewide level. RVTs may also participate along with veterinarians in the committees and other activities of the CVMA.

The above information has been produced by the members of the California Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Technician Committee.

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