If you love animals and possess the work ethic required to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Maryland, then you’re only 5 simple steps away from an exciting career opportunity. As the number of jobs available for Veterinary Technicians is expected to increase nationwide over the coming years, the demand for those qualified to work in the field of veterinary medicine will continue to rise.
What Does a Maryland Veterinary Technician Do?
The role of a Veterinary Technician in a veterinary hospital is equivalent to that of a nurse in a regular hospital. As a Licensed Veterinary Technician, you will be responsible for: assisting Veterinarians with patient care, conducting blood tests, taking X-ray images, maintaining lines of communication with pet-owners, and professionally assessing patients and diagnosing various conditions.
If you have an interest in exploring the field of veterinary medicine, follow this simple guide to become licensed as a Veterinary Technician in Maryland.
Step 1: Start Your Vet-Tech Education
In order to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician, you’ll need to complete either an Associate of Science (A.S.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Veterinary Technology. Prior to beginning your education in Veterinary Technology, you must first ensure that the program you’ve chosen is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Once you’ve completed either an A.S. or B.S. program, you must then register and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) prior to receiving your official license to work as a Veterinary Technician in Maryland.
Maryland has one such AVMA accredited Veterinary College that offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in Veterinary Technology. There are certain prerequisites that you must complete prior to being admitted to this program, such as: an Introduction to Veterinary Technology course (with a grade of “C” or better) and a General Biology course (with a grade of “B” or better), in additional to the regular General Education requirements common to all post secondary education programs.
Veterinary Technician coursework generally includes:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Animal Nutrition
- Animal Disease and Pathology
- Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Clinical Laboratory Procedures
- Veterinary Surgical Procedures
- Large Animal Disease
- Veterinary Imaging
- Veterinary Hospital Management
- Laboratory Animal Science
The AVMA-accredited program offered in Maryland will run you a total of four semesters, with an internship to be completed during the fourth semester. Alternatively, there are nine AVMA-accredited Veterinary Technician programs available from various online institutions.
Step 2: Seek out an Internship at a Veterinary Clinic or Hospital
Prior to graduating from any accredited Veterinary Technology program, you must go out and obtain hands-on experience at a veterinary clinic or hospital. Most institutions will include on-campus laboratories where you’ll be able to practice and gain experience working with animals in a clinical setting while being supervised by instructors. These facilities are intended to serve as an extended orientation before beginning your off-campus Internship assignment.
Internship programs are a way of directly preparing you for your future job as a Veterinary Technician and will usually run for at least a few months. It is also possible that your Internship may lead to a permanent position once you’ve graduated and passed the examination process, so it’s a good idea to try and make a good impression on any potential future employer while completing your Internship assignment.
If you’re taking a Veterinary Technician program in Maryland, then your Internship will take place in the fourth semester, once most of your coursework has been completed. If enrolled in this program, there are also four prerequisites that must be fulfilled prior to your being permitted to work with any animals: a) a rabies immunization, b) a Tetanus booster within the past 5 years, c) proof of health insurance, and d) the purchase of your own uniform.
Some veterinary hospitals in Maryland where you may be able to seek an Internship:
- Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital
- Catonsville Animal Hospital
- Westview Animal Hospital
- Arbutus Veterinary Hospital
- Howard County Animal Hospital
- Dunloggin Veterinary Hospital
- Doc Side Veterinary Medical Hospital
- Boston Street Animal Hospital LLC
- Light Street Animal Hospital
Step 3: Pass the VTNE and Maryland State Board Examination
After earning your degree in Veterinary Technology, you must register for and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) before you can become a Licensed Veterinary Technician in any state. In Maryland, there are three testing windows per year: March 1st to March 31st (application deadline is February 1st), July 15th to August 15th (application deadline is June 15th), and November 15th to December 15th (application deadline is October 15th).
The VTNE is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and will cost you $300.00. Before you are able to receive permission to take the exam, you must first forward your official transcript to the AAVSB as proof of completion of an accredited Veterinary Technician program. Once your transcript has been forwarded, you can register and apply online at the AAVSB website, where you will be able to choose the testing window and location in which you would like to take your VTNE. You can contact the AAVSB for more information via phone at (877) 698-8482, or Email: [email protected].
There are a series of steps to be taken before you will be given authorization to write your exam. Firstly, you may only take the VTNE if you are eligible to do so. Eligibility varies for each state. If you plan to take the VTNE in Maryland, you must have either completed or be near completion of a two-year program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Secondly, you must go to the AAVSB website and apply online to take the test. During the online application process, you must also pay the $300.00 exam fee in order for your application to be accepted.
Lastly, you will be sent an Authorization-to-Test (ATT) letter from the Professional Examination Service (PES) via Email once your eligibility has been confirmed and your application processed. The ATT letter will provide you with further instructions on how to make an appointment to take the VTNE. If you have any questions regarding your ATT letter, you can contact the PES via phone at 1-866-744-4724, or Email: [email protected].
The AAVSB itself doesn’t provide you with your Veterinary Technician license, as the association is only responsible for the administration and management of the VTNE. All licensing is conducted through individual state boards. You can find more information about examinations at the Maryland State Department of Agriculture website.
After you’ve made an examination appointment online through the AAVSB website, Prometric Licensing and Examination Providers will be responsible for conducting the actual examination at one of their facilities in Maryland.
Once your appointment has been made at a Prometric testing center, you should confirm the date and location with Prometric either online or by phone: 1-800-869-1100. You must also remember to bring your government-issued ID to the testing center on the day of your test.
In order to better prepare yourself for the VTNE, you can download and/or print the VTNE Candidate Handbook from the AAVSB website. This will provide you with more detailed information about the exam process and what to expect on the date of your exam. Also available on the AAVSB website are two practice tests that are intended to help you recognize your strengths and areas that need improvement ahead of writing your official examination. Each practice test will run you $45 per attempt and 90 minutes of your time, and will consist of 75 questions that are similar to those found on the official VTNE.
The VTNE focuses on assessing your level of knowledge in nine key areas of Veterinary Technology. Listed in descending order of importance on the examination, the key areas are: animal care and nursing, anesthesia, laboratory procedures, pharmacy and pharmacology, surgical nursing, diagnostic imaging, pain management/analgesia, dentistry, and emergency medicine/critical care.
During the VTNE, you will be given up to 3 hours to complete 170 multiple choice questions spread across the nine key areas of knowledge. All answers will be chosen using a computer, and once you’ve completed the examination, you’ll be able to view a preliminary and unofficial pass/fail grade. Note: 20 of the multiple choice questions are ‘test questions’ for future exams and will not be counted towards your final score (but there will be no indication as to which questions these are).
After taking the exam, you will receive an Email notification within 3-4 weeks detailing how to retrieve your official score report from the AAVSB. Your results will also be forwarded to the Maryland Department of Agriculture and you may begin state licensing procedures.
You can find a Licensed Veterinary Technician application form online at the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The process requires that you fill out an Application for Examination and Registration, include a copy of your transcript or diploma, a 2” x 3” photograph taken within the past six months, and a non-refundable application fee of $85.
Once this application has been processed, you must take the Maryland State Board Examination to complete your registration. This requires that you first read Maryland’s laws and regulations regarding Veterinary medicine and technology, after which you will be tested on your comprehension and understanding of the relevant laws pertaining to Veterinary Technology. Once you’ve passed this final examination, you will officially become a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Maryland.
For more information about the Maryland State Board Examination and application process you can contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture via phone at (410) 841-5862. You can also find more detailed information about all licensing procedures for Veterinary Technicians in Maryland here.
Step 4: Join an Organization and Begin Specializing
As a way to further your credentials and career as a Veterinary Technician, you should consider choosing a specialty in either veterinary medicine or laboratory science. There are two organizations, NAVTA and AALAS, that can provide you with additional training and courses in order to become certified as a specialist in a specific veterinary discipline.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) promotes veterinary technology in a hospital or clinical setting, providing additional direction, education, and support to those who register and become members. NAVTA’s Committee on Veterinary Technicians Specialties designates a few, each with their own training and certification programs to help you advance in your chosen specialty. Upon completion of a certification program, you will be designated as a VTS, or Veterinary Technician Specialist, in the discipline you’ve chosen. Membership with NAVTA costs $50 annually, or $25 for students.
The few NAVTA specialty academies are:
- The Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists
- The Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
- The Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice
- The Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians
If you’d rather specialize in laboratory animal science, the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) provides three levels of certification for Veterinary Technicians working in a laboratory setting. The AALAS strives to promote responsible laboratory animal care in a way that will benefit both humans and animals. Membership with the AALAS costs $35 annually.
The AALAS certification levels are:
- Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT)
- Requires half a year of laboratory experience.
- Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT)
- Requires 2 years of laboratory experience, or
- ALAT certification and a half year of additional laboratory experience.
- Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG)
- Requires 4 years of laboratory experience, or
- LAT certification and a half year of additional laboratory experience.
Step 5: Continue Education as a Veterinary Technician
Now that you’re a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Maryland, you must renew your registration every three years for a fee of $75. In addition to this mandatory registration renewal and fee, you must undergo a total of 24 hours of continuing education coursework within each three-year registration period in order to be considered for registration renewal.
Approved continuing education work can include: continuing education courses from AVMA accredited veterinary colleges, lectures and courses provided by national or regional meetings of the AVMA, continuing education programs given or arranged by the AVMA, and some online continuing education programs. For more information on approved continuing education programs, visit the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners website.
In addition to continuing education, you may also join some local veterinary organizations in Maryland. Some organizations include:
PO Box 5407
Annapolis, MD 21403
1601 Nicodemus Road
Reisterstown, MD 21136
8556 Davis Road,
Columbia, Md 21045