Roads To Certification: The Alternate Route

September/October 2006 California Veterinarian

If you or one of your staff members would like to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT), there are six routes to certification. This article explains one of those options, the “alternate route,” which is for candidates who are already working in veterinary medicine and credits them for their work experience. Many people find the alternate route to be the best way for them to become an RVT.

Specifically, the alternate route allows unregistered veterinary assistants with three years of on-the-job training and 20 semester units, 30 quarter units, or 300 hours of specific education to apply for the RVT exam. The CVMA offers a comprehensive, 58-page workbook which describes the six ways that veterinary technicians can become certified in California. The emphasis of the workbook is on the alternate route.

The workbook fully outlines requirements and lists sample test questions, suggested reading materials and the Veterinary Medical Board’s Task List.

Education requirement

Required courses can be from junior colleges, four-year colleges or universities. Candidates may also attend courses at veterinary conferences or private seminars, as long as they are properly documented by transcripts or certificates of attendance.

With regard to the education requirement, most candidates will take at least one course in each required subject area and more courses in topics that they know the least about. California Code of Regulations Section 2068.5 (a), (1)-(5) lists RVT-specific subjects that must be included in every candidate’s educational program, such as dentistry, anesthesia, surgical nursing, suturing, casting and splinting, radiology, diseases and nursing of animals and emergency care.   Additionally, sub-section (b) lists general science courses that must be covered.

Practical experience requirement

There are two important points regarding a candidate’s practical experience: 1) the work experience must occur in California under the supervision of a California-licensed veterinarian; and 2) both the coursework and practical experience must be completed within five years of taking the examination.

Practical experience must be documented by a signed “Task List” showing competence in all the required job skills – the workbook includes a copy of this list. In addition, a veterinarian must document the 36 months of experience. The workbook also includes a list of items to be submitted to the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB).

Although the “alternate route” may seem complicated, the workbook will help to simplify the process. Specific questions regarding the alternate route should be directed to the VMB at their website,

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