‘Veterinary Technician’ title used inconsistently across US, new study shows

(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) March 23, 2022—Only 10 states have a clear definition of the title “veterinary technician” and restrict its use to people who have formal credentials in that state, according to a new report by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).

“The veterinary technician profession has long been challenged by a lack of cohesion and standards in the United States,” says the NAVTA study. “As a result, the title of ‘Veterinary Technician’ is used inconsistently and, often times, incorrectly, and suffers from a lack of clarity and understanding, both within the veterinary world and among consumers.”

The report, entitled “Title Protection for ‘Veterinary Technicians’ is Needed and Desired, But Absent and Misunderstood in Most States,” says veterinary practice acts in 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico lack restrictions on use of the title “veterinary technician.” Another 10 states limit who can use titles of “certified veterinary technician,” “licensed veterinary technician,” “licensed veterinary medical technician” or “registered veterinary technician,” but do not restrict use of the more general title of “veterinary technician.”

Ashli ​​R. Selke, NAVTA President and a credentialed veterinary technician, says NAVTA data indicate that title protection and pay are among the top concerns of veterinary technicians, many of whom think improved title protection will lead to better pay.

“Protecting the title of ‘veterinary technician’ is the right thing to do from a legal perspective, helps the consumer better understand who they are working with, and gives the title value,” Selke said. “That, in turn, enhances the profession and creates an incentive for individuals to go to school and earn the right to use that title.”

To address the issues identified in the study, the NAVTA report offered a series of detailed recommendations for legislatures and regulatory agencies, academic institutions, veterinary medical and technician associations, veterinary practices, and others. The full NAVTA report, published in February, is available at https://d2vjg8vjbfxfu1.cloudfront.net/app/uploads/20220222135054/NAVTA_Title-Protection_Whitepaper_final-1.pdf.

“We commend our colleagues at NAVTA on this important study,” said Dr. Jose Arce, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “Veterinary technicians—graduates of an AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities® (CVTEA)- or Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)-accredited program—are an integral part of veterinary medicine and care teams. The AVMA encourages schools, organizations, and regulatory authorities to use the appropriate terminology for veterinary technicians who are integral parts of veterinary medicine and care teams.”

Currently, there are 216 veterinary technician programs in the United States accredited by the AVMA’s CVTEA, which graduate a total of about 5,500 students per year. CVTEA is celebrating its 50th anniversary in July.