Steps to Become a Veterinary Technician in Maine

If you’re interested in an exciting and rewarding career filled with opportunity, then mainebecoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Maine may be for you. The number of jobs available for Veterinary Technicians nationwide is expected to increase by 30% through 2022. As the number of pets per household is on the rise, more pet-owners are spending more money on pet products and services, a trend which is not projected to reverse any time soon.

What a Veterinary Technician Does

As a Veterinary Technician, your role in a veterinary hospital will mirror that of a nurse in a regular hospital. You will be responsible for assessing and diagnosing conditions, communicating with pet-owners, taking blood tests and X-rays, and generally assisting the Veterinarian in all aspects of patient care.

If you have a love of animals and are willing to acquire the intensive training and experience necessary, then you’re just a few simple steps away from becoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Maine.

Step 1: Begin Your Education to Become a Veterinary Technician

Find a school that offers either an Associate of Science (A.S.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Veterinary Technology and ensure that you’ve completed all pre-admission requirements. These will generally include completion of a high school diploma, as well as completion of some high school courses in biology, chemistry, and algebra (a minimum of one class for each subject, completed with a “C” grade or higher).

Any degree program you choose, whether an A.S., A.A.S., or B.S., must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) if you wish to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) in Maine. Upon completion of an accredited program, you must also pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), as well as a criminal record check, prior to receiving your official veterinary license and seeking work as an LVT.

There is currently only one AVMA-accredited Veterinary College in Maine that offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Veterinary Technology. This program includes five semesters (2.5 years) of coursework, with an Internship to be completed on-campus alongside your regular courses in the third semester, and concludes with an Externship at a Veterinary Hospital in the sixth semester, or once you have finished all of your regular coursework. Alternatively, there are eight schools recognized by the AVMA that offer distance learning opportunities.

Veterinary Technician Course Work Will Focus On

Knowledge:

  • Communications
  • Animal Care and Handling
  • Clinical Lab Methodology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Veterinary Microbiology
  • Animal Disease

Medical Skills:

  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology
  • Surgery and Anesthesia
  • Dentistry
  • Radiology

Step 2: Complete and Internship at a Veterinary Hospital

All Veterinary Technology degrees are required by the AVMA to include Internship and/or Externship programs into the curriculum. In order to complete your education and become a Veterinary Technician, you must acquire hands-on experience at a veterinary hospital or similar setting prior to graduating and receiving your degree.

An Internship is generally intended to serve as an extensive orientation program that directly prepares you for your future job as a Veterinary Technician, and this program will often run for at least a few months. Many accredited Veterinary Colleges will feature an on-campus veterinary hospital or laboratory that allows students to gain internship experience while being supervised by instructors. These facilities will generally function similarly to regular veterinary hospitals or animal laboratories, giving students a chance to interact with and care for real animals.

Another type of work experience is an Externship, which generally serves as an actual job and allows students to experience what it’s like working at a real (off-campus) veterinary hospital. This assignment will generally be much shorter than an Internship (a period of weeks) and primarily involve job-shadowing and the opportunity to observe real-world veterinary technicians on a regular work day. It is possible that your Externship may lead to permanent employment in the future, so it’s important to maintain a competent and professional demeanor during this part of your education.

If you’re taking your Veterinary Technician program in Maine, then you will have both an Internship and an Externship. In this case, the Internship will take place on-campus during your third semester, and the Externship will take place in an off-campus veterinary hospital in place of a sixth semester. There are only two pre-requirements for these programs: 1) in order to participate in the third semester Internship, you must provide proof of rabies vaccination the semester begins; and 2) all coursework must be completed before beginning your sixth semester Externship.

Maine has several Veterinary Hospitals where you may be able to find Internship or Externship placement, such as:

  • Maine Veterinary Referral Center
  • Maine Coast Veterinary Hospital
  • Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary
  • Calais Veterinary Clinic
  • Southern Maine Veterinary Care
  • Down Maine Veterinary Clinic
  • Turner Veterinary Services
  • Central Maine Veterinary Hospital
  • Portland Veterinary Specialists

Step 3: Take Your Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE)

Once you’ve completed your A.S., A.A.S., or B.S. in Veterinary Technology, you will be eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). Taking the VTNE will cost you $300.00, and prior to receiving permission to take the exam, you must prove your eligibility to test by forwarding your official transcripts to the AAVSB as proof of completion of an accredited Veterinary Technology program.

The AAVSB has designed the VTNE Candidate Handbook to serve as your primary source of information for the exam process, which can be found online at the AAVSB website. Also provided online are two practice tests that will help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and give you a preview of what to expect on the real VTNE. Each practice test costs $45 per attempt, and it includes 75 questions to be completed over a period of 90 minutes (half the length of an official VTNE).

The three-step process to register for the VTNE:

Be eligible. In order to take the VTNE, you must first be eligible to do so, and eligibility varies for each state. To be eligible in Maine, you must have completed a program of at least two years in length that is certified by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Apply and pay. You must apply online at the AAVSB website to take the VTNE. When doing so, you must also pay the $300.00 exam fee in order for your application to be processed.

Make an Appointment. Once your eligibility has been confirmed and your exam application processed, you will be sent an Authorization-to-Test (ATT) letter from the Professional Examination Service (PES) via Email which will tell you how to arrange for an exam appointment.

Note: The AAVSB does not license Veterinary Technicians, as it is only responsible for administering and managing the VTNE. The exam itself is conducted by Prometric Licensing and Examination Providers at two different testing locations in Maine.

Once you have made an appointment online at the AAVSB website, you should confirm the date with Prometric either via their website or phone at 1-800-869-1100. You must bring a government-issued ID to the examination.

The VTNE itself will consist of 170 multiple choice questions spread across nine ‘domain areas’ (topics) to be answered on a computer. However, 20 of the questions are ‘pilot’ questions to be used for future exams and will not be counted towards your final score.

The nine domain areas of the VTNE are:

  • Animal Care and Nursing
  • Anesthesia
  • Laboratory Procedures
  • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Surgical Nursing
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Pain Management/Analgesia
  • Dentistry
  • Emergency Medicine/Critical Care

You will be given up to 3 hours to complete the exam, and once finished, you will see a preliminary and unofficial ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade on the computer screen. 3-4 weeks after taking the exam, you will receive an Email notification to retrieve your official score report from the AAVSB.

Once you have passed your test, your results will be forwarded to the state board of your choice and you will then be eligible to complete state licensing procedures. You can find a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) application form online at the Maine State Board of Veterinary Medicine. Your final license application costs in will include a $50 license fee and a $21 criminal record check fee. The license is valid from October 1st, and there will be a $50 annual fee to renew your license each year.

Who to contact:

  • For questions regarding your application, eligibility, and scores, you can contact the AAVSB via Email: vettech@aavsb.org or phone: 1-877-698-8482.
  • For questions regarding your Authorization-to-Test letter, you can contact the Professional Examination Service (PES) via Email: aavsb@proexam.org or phone: 1-866-744-4724
  • To schedule or re-schedule your exam, appointment, you can contact Prometric online or via phone: 1-800-869-1100

Step 4: Choose Your Specialty and Join an Organization

In order to further your credentials, you should become a member of an association such as the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) or the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). These organizations will help you work towards a specialization through additional training, coursework, and certifications that will allow you to advance in your career.

The AALAS is an organization that is concerned with advancing responsible laboratory animal care and use in order to provide a benefit for both people and animals. They offer three levels of certification specializing in laboratory animal science. Cost of membership is:

Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT)

$160 for AALAS members, or $235 for non-members.

  • must have an A.S. or B.S. degree plus 5 years of laboratory experience.

Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT)

$210 for AALAS members, or $285 for non-members.

  • must have an A.S. degree plus 2 years of laboratory experience.
  • or, have a B.S. degree plus 1 year of laboratory experience.
  • or, have an ALAT certification, a college degree, and 5 years of laboratory experience post-ALAT certification.

Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG)

$260 for AALAS members, or $335 for non-members.

  • must have an A.S. degree plus 4 years of laboratory experience.
  • or, have a B.S. degree plus 3 year of laboratory experience.
  • or, have an LAT certification, a college degree, and 5 years of laboratory experience post-LAT certification.

NAVTA is an organization that is primarily concerned with representing and promoting the profession of veterinary technology by providing direction, education, and support to its members. NAVTA also works with other professional organizations to promote the competent care and humane treatment of animals.

NAVTA’s Committee on Veterinary Technicians Specialties has designated some distinct “academies” (specializations) with advanced training pathways and certification processes. If you follow and complete a certain specialization pathway, you will become designated as a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) in the discipline you’ve chosen. Cost of membership is $50 annually, or $25 annually for students.

Some of the NAVTA academies are:

The Academy of Veterinary Dental TechniciansSpecializing in animal dentistry with a knowledge of advanced dentistry procedures.

The Academy of Veterinary Technician AnesthetistsSpecializing in the administration and management of anesthesia.

The Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary TechniciansA wide range of disciplines in one academy of internal medicine. You can also specialize in a sub-category, such as: small animal medicine, large animal medicine, oncology, cardiology, or neurology.

The Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care TechniciansA specialty for working in a well equipped and well staffed emergency or critical care facility.

The Academy of Veterinary Behavior TechniciansSpecializing in behavioral medicine, you will acquire an advanced knowledge of techniques to promote healthy animal behavior, problem prevention, training, management, and behavior modification. The goal of this academy is centered around strengthening the human-animal bond.

The Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing TechniciansA specialty for those with an equine interest, this academy also actively promotes the well-being of horses in general.

The Academy of Veterinary Surgical TechniciansSpecializing in surgical procedures, this academy will provide you with a standardized route through which you can qualify to become a VTS in surgery.

The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical PracticeAn academy that focuses on specialization in a specific species. Their current categories are: canine/feline, avian/exotic, and production animals.

The Academy of Veterinary Nutrition TechniciansSpecializing in the field of animal nutrition.

The Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology TechniciansSpecializing in clinical pathology, you will become a specialist in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease in animals.

Step 5: Continue to Expand Your Knowledge and Skills as a Veterinary Technician

Now that you’ve become a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) and chosen an area of specialization, you should continue learning in order to remain up to date and knowledgeable in your field. You’ll also need to annually renew your Veterinary Technician license online through the Maine Board of Veterinary Technicians. The cost is $50 per year, and all issued licenses are valid from October 1st to September 30th regardless of the date you initially registered. Missing the renewal deadline will result in additional fees and/or penalties.

As a way to continue your education while working as a Licensed Veterinary Technician, you may join or follow some local veterinary organizations in Maine:

Maine Veterinary Medical Association

37A Exchange Street, Suite 305,

Portland, Maine 04101

Phone: 800-448-2772

Email: info@mainevetmed.org

Fish Vet Group

350 Commercial Street,

Portland, Maine 04101

Phone: 207-699-5901

If you would like to explore further opportunities in the field of Veterinary Medicine, having experience as a Veterinary Technician provides you with an excellent background prior to returning to school and studying to become a certified Veterinarian.

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