If you’re someone who loves animals, you have probably thought about a career in veterinary medicine.

Veterinary assistants, also sometimes called vet techs, work alongside veterinarians to care for large and small animals to ensure they live happy and healthy lives.

It’s incredibly gratifying work and a job you’ll love to go to each day!

But just because you’ve decided on the right career for you doesn’t mean all of your research is now completed. You must now work toward getting trained and becoming certified.

But how do you know which certification is best? AVA? RVT? CVA?

Keeping all of those letters straight can be a challenge!

But don’t worry, I’m going to tell you what each certification offers so you can make an informed decision.

But before we dive into talking certifications, I did want to mention that there’s really nothing to stress about when it comes to choosing the right certification. Each one is a stamp of approval and will help you land a great job.

**What is more important is that you choose the right certification training program. The right program will get you ready for ANY exam, whichever one you decide to go with.

And don’t worry, I’m ALSO going to share some of the best training programs out there so you can be certain you will gain the knowledge and skills to help you have the career of your dreams. So be sure to read this ENTIRE article!

And one final thing, if you want, you may read more about a vet tech’s salary, benefits and job prospects here.

Okay, let’s dive in!

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Why is Certification Important?

The majority of states in this country require vet techs to become certified.

But even if your particular state doesn’t require it, there is still an excellent reason to become certified, and that’s the fact that certification will help you stand apart from other candidates and get noticed.

It’s also incredibly simple for adult students to become certified, and you may not even have to step foot into a classroom.

The certification programs we are going to discuss can be accessed online. This means busy working adults who may also have family responsibilities can learn on their own time, become certified, and advance their careers. And quickly! In less than a year, you could be on your way to becoming a veterinary assistant.

At the end of the day, certification offers vet techs potentially better job prospects, greater job security, and typically higher pay!

Okay, so now that you know why certification is so important, let’s look at your three certification options.

AVA Certification

What does AVA stand for?

AVA stands for Approved Veterinary Assistant.

What is the AVA certification?

Veterinary assistants play a pivotal role in vet medicine, quite literally. Throughout the day they are responsible for many different tasks. In one instant they may assist veterinarians in a medical exam, while the next minute they may help clients understand how to administer medications to their pet.

And still, in the very next minute, they may be needed to help fill a prescription, set up lab work, prep an exam room, or update medical records.

The AVA designation recognizes a vet assistant has obtained the proper training and can perform all of these duties, making valuable contributions to the entire veterinarian team.

This particular certification is currently recognized in all 50 states. This sets AVA certification apart from the other two certifications on this list.

Who offers AVA? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America

Established in 1981, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has always had a goal of allowing vet techs to “sit at the table” and give their input on national issues involving the veterinarian profession.

Since its beginning, NAVTA has grown and has formed the Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties and has even developed a scholarship program.

The AVA Exam

All candidates will need to be observed while taking the exam. Observation will happen through either a veterinarian, a credentialed technician, an instructor from the student’s program, or a licensed testing center.

How much does the AVA exam cost?

The AVA exam costs $100. I should mention that some certification training programs, like the ones I’ll introduce you to, provide a voucher to cover this fee.

What topics will the exam cover?

The AVA exam will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Legal Issues
  • Examination Room Procedures
  • Basic Procedures
  • Small Animal Nursing
  • Laboratory Procedures
  • Radiology & Ultrasound Imaging

What are the requirements to sit for the AVA exam?

The AVA designation exam is open to all graduates of a NAVTA-approved training program.

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RVT Certification

What Does RVT stand for?

RVT stands for Registered Vet Tech.

What is the RVT Certification?

The RVT certification is a specific certification for vet techs working in the state of California.

Who offers RVT? The Veterinary Medical Board

The Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) has been regulating veterinary medicine in the State of California since 1848. That’s a long time! The VMB’s mission has always been to protect California’s citizens and their pets by regulating veterinarian medicine.

To do this, the VMB develops, maintains, and enforces professional standards including licensing veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians (RVTs), veterinary assistant-controlled substances permit holders (VACSPs), and veterinary premises.

The RVT Exam

The exam consists of 50 questions and candidates will have 1 1/2 hours to complete them. The RVT exam may be taken at your school or a PSI testing Center near you.

How Much Does the Exam Cost?

The RVT exam costs $350. But remember, many training programs will cover the cost of your exam.

Topics covered on the exam:

Some of the topics covered on the RVT exam include:

  • Care and Treatment of Restricted Animals
  • Administration of Drugs by RVTs:
  • Authorized Services by Technicians:
  • Liability for Emergency Care
  • And More

Requirements to sit for the RVT exam

To sit for the RVT exam, candidates will have to complete a VMB-approved training program.

CVA Certification

What does CVA stand for?

CVA stands for Certified Veterinary Assistant.

What is the CVA certification?

CVA certification is for those vet techs working in the state of Texas. This certification is a valuable designation and shows that a candidate has a high quality and formal education proving the candidate is ready to become a valuable member of any veterinary medical team.

Who offers CVA? The Texas Veterinary Medical Association

Established in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is one of the largest state veterinary medical associations in the nation. The organization has been recognized as a leader and innovator and as a provider of excellent educational programs.

The CVA Exam

The CVA exam is taken online and consists of 100 randomly generated questions.

How much does the CVA exam cost?

The exam costs $135. That is, unless you have been given a voucher from your training program, then the cost of the exam is covered by your tuition.

What topics will the exam cover?

Topics will include:

  • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Examination Room Procedures
  • Small Animal Nursing
  • Laboratory Procedures
  • Radiology & Ultrasound Imaging

What are the requirements to sit for the CVA exam?

To sit for the CVA exam, a candidate must have completed an approved training program and have obtained at least 500 hours of work experience under the supervision of an LVT or DVM.

Don’t worry, the certification training programs I’m about to introduce you to provide an externship where you can gain this critical hands-on experience.

Choosing the Right Certification Training Program

Okay, I just went over a lot of information with you and I want to be sure you understand everything, so let’s recap a bit:

In looking at all three certifications we can tell right off the bat that, unless you live in the states of Texas or California, you have only one real option for certification, and that is through the AVA examination.

If you live in California or Texas, you will most likely want to be certified through each state’s certification board. That is unless you think you may be moving to a different state in the near future, in which case it may make more sense to go for a nationally recognized certification.

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In addition, I wanted to remind you that certain training programs will offer you a voucher to offset the cost of your exam fee. This will be particularly helpful if you are taking the RVT exam in the state of California which costs $350.

So which certification is right for you?

There’s actually a far more important question to be asking yourself and that is, what makes a good certification training program?

Here’s the reality, the right education will prepare you for ANY certification exam, whether it’s the AVA, CVA, or RVT. So there is NO NEED for you to panic about choosing the right certification exam.

What you should focus on right now is finding a great training program that will get you FULLY prepared to pass ANY exam!

Take our free quiz to see what program perks you could qualify for:

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What Should I Look for in a Vet Tech Certification Program?

Here’s what OnlineDegree.com suggests you do to find the right certification program:

Choose an Authorized Veterinary Technician School

You would be surprised just how many unauthorized schools can be found selling vet assistant training programs. Any program that has not been approved by the certification organization will not help you meet the requirements to sit for the exam.

Opt for an Online Program

If you are an adult with a busy work and home life, you’ll want to find a program that offers flexibility so you can study when is the most convenient for YOU.

An online program allows you to learn at your own pace and from the comfort of your home. And, because you don’t have to take traditional classes at a brick-and-mortar school, you never have to worry about missing an important job or family function.

Training Should be Affordable

We’ve seen vet tech programs offered at universities that cost TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars! I don’t know many working adults with a family that can afford that kind of education.

OnlineDegree.com has partnered with authorized schools that offer discounts and low monthly payment plans.

Take the free quiz to see if you could qualify!

Make Sure Books are Included

Textbooks have gotten very expensive over the years. Be sure to find a certification program that includes textbooks.

They Provide an Externship

Remember I mentioned I would share how you could gain some critical experience that would help you sit for some of these exams?

Well, the training programs OnlineDegree.com has partnered with offer this important hands-on experience, so you can set yourself apart from other candidates.

Take the Next Steps to Become a Certified Veterinary Assistant

OnlineDegree.com wants to help you get an affordable education that will set you up for a rewarding and lucrative career.

That’s why we’ve partnered with schools that could meet ALL of these criteria.

Take a few moments to take our quiz to connect with the right certification program that matches your career goals and life situation.

All it takes is a few minutes and you could be on your way to a rewarding and exciting career as a vet tech!

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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.