Roads To Certification – Veterinary Technology Programs

March/April 2007 California Veterinarian

RVT News

If you or a staff member would like to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in California, you should consider the traditional path of attending a veterinary technology program. This, the second in a series of articles on ways to become an RVT in California, reviews this path and is a follow-up to our earlier article on the Alternate Route published in the September/October 2006 California Veterinarian.

In California there are two types of schools that provide certified training: those that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and those that are approved by the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB). Graduation from either one of these types of schools qualifies you for the exam. Certification ultimately requires achieving a passing score on the California Registered Veterinary Technician Examination. Currently, there are 13 veterinary technology programs in California that are either AVMA-accredited or California VMB-approved.

When considering and preparing for a veterinary technology program, you should have an aptitude for general science, math, and biology and demonstrate basic language and communication skills. The curriculum includes courses on the anatomy and physiology of animals, from cats and dogs to rats and cattle. Students are educated in routine laboratory and clinical procedures, the care and handling of animals, and basic principles of normal and abnormal life processes.

Students generally attend a veterinary technology program full-time, although some part-time programs exist. Programs are conducted at colleges, universities, or private schools and typically last 18 months or two years and lead to an associate of science degree, or its equivalent. Four-year programs offer bachelor’s degrees. The cost varies from school to school, so you should contact the particular school you are interested in for information on tuition and financial aid.

Being an RVT is a great career choice if you like working with people and animals and enjoy challenging work. Jobs are readily available upon graduation, with the AVMA estimating that nationally there are five to eight positions available for every registered veterinary technician.

The CVMA offers a comprehensive, 58-page workbook which describes the six ways that veterinary technicians can become certified in California. While the emphasis of the workbook is on the alternate route, the traditional path of attending a veterinary technology program is also covered, with contact information for all California schools. The workbook fully outlines requirements and lists sample test questions, suggested reading materials and the Veterinary Medical Board’s Task List. To order the workbook, go online to or call 800.655.2862.

AVMA-accredited RVT Programs in California

CSU Pomona (Pomona)

  • Cosumnes River College (Sacramento)
  • Foothill College (Los Altos)
  • Hartnell College (Salinas)
  • Pierce College (Woodland Hills)
  • Mt. San Antonio College (Walnut)
  • Western Career College (Citrus Heights, Stockton, San Leandro, Sacramento, Pleasant Hill)
  • Yuba College (Marysville)

California VMB-approved RVT Programs

  • Mesa College (San Diego)

For an up-to-date list of the AVMA-accredited and California-approved RVT programs, go to

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