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Attention! The window is closing for individuals who wish to train non-academically for veterinary technician licensure

Senate Bill 6745 was signed into law by Governor Gregoire on March 18, closing the window for those who wish to become veterinary technicians through non-academic training. Individuals who are interested in starting their five years of practical experience training required for veterinary technician licensure must do so prior to July 1, 2010. The five years of training must be completed no later than July 1, 2015 in order to sit for the national exam.

New practical experience candidates and those who have already completed some of their practical experience training for veterinary technician licensure should watch the Veterinary Board of Governors website to view new requirements and forms as they become finalized this summer.

Important information regarding veterinary technician licensure


Dear WSVMA Members:


The WSVMA held its quarterly Executive Board meeting on January 22, in Olympia.  Among the topics discussed were the issues of veterinary technician testing and licensing.


Currently Washington still allows non-academically trained veterinary technicians to be licensed.  Non-academically trained veterinary technicians are those who have completed five years’ practical experience under a licensed veterinarian’s supervision.  It is explained in the law as follows:



RCW 18.92.128 Veterinary technician license – Rules

(1) The board shall issue a veterinary technician license to an individual who has:

     (a) successfully passed an examination administered by the board; and

     (b)(i) successfully completed a post high school course approved by the board in the care and treatment
       of animals; or

     (ii) Had five years' practical experience, acceptable to the board, with a licensed veterinarian.

     (2) The board shall adopt rules under chapter 34.05 RCW identifying standard tasks and procedures that must be included in the experience of a person who qualifies to take the veterinarian technician examination through the period of practical experience required in subsection (1)(b)(ii) of this section, and requirements for the supervising veterinarian's attestation to completion of the practical experience and that training included the required tasks and procedures.



The window of opportunity for non-academically trained veterinary technicians sitting for the license examination under (b)(ii) above is closing.  Effective December 2014, non-academically trained candidates will no longer be allowed to sit for the exam.  The examination will only be available to those technicians who have successfully completed an approved program accredited by the AVMA.  Technicians and veterinarians in Washington have differing opinions as to whether or not this change will be positive.


The board examination currently used in Washington and spoken of in the RCW above is a national exam that is used throughout the U.S. and Canada.  It is owned by American Association of Veterinary State Boards.  Essentially, all states using this proprietary exam understand and agree to the following from AAVSB:


“The Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) is owned and administered by AAVSB. The examination is given twice each year, in January and June. The VTNE is constantly updated, reviewed, and re-evaluated item by item so that it remains a valid tool useful in the evaluation of candidates for licensure.”


Despite Washington law saying it will allow people to sit for the test under (b)(ii) above, by December 2014 they will not be allowed to take the only test that has been available to them because of the test owner’s decision to restrict the test in states where practical experience is a route to licensure.


Now for the inevitable “what if” questions:


  • What if Washington said, “Too bad, we’re going to let them sit for the test when it is given in our state because that’s our law?  The answer is AAVSB can and will most likely not sell the state an examination. In effect, all of our potential technicians would be unable to sit for the examination.


  • What if they take their test and go away?  Can’t Washington prepare its own test and administer it to whoever they want?  The answer is yes, Washington could do that and that idea has been considered.  Preparing a competent, non-infringing test is very time consuming and costly.  Conducting that testing and having to score it, announce results, maintain records, etc., again takes another level of administration at what is an unacceptable expense.  Furthermore, if Washington did prepare and administer its own test, there will be no ability for Washington licensed technicians to seek licensure in other states without retaking the AAVSB test.  As it is now, non-academically trained veterinary technicians licensed in Washington do not have the option of seeking licensure in some states because of their lack of academically-based training.


  • Wouldn’t other states grant our licensed technicians reciprocity?  At this point no, but they could.  Seeking reciprocity is again costly, time consuming, and requires constant stewardship beyond the human and fiscal resources available or projected to become available in the foreseeable future.


  • I know other states have developed their own test, can’t we just use theirs?  Yes, such an arrangement could be made and again it will take a lot of time and money to ensure the test is valid and meets Washington’s needs.  And once again, the test would lack the empowerment of reciprocity.


  • What is the WSVMA doing about all this?  Although the WSVMA Executive Board regrets it cannot change the upcoming contractual ineligibility of non-academically trained veterinary technicians, it still has an obligation to ensure that a viable test remains in place for academically trained veterinary technicians. A vote was taken during the most recent board meeting to support a statutory change in RCW 18.92.128 eliminating the category of (b)(ii) as an avenue to sit for the examination.  Such a change would be consistent with the contractual stipulations for use of the AAVSB examination.  It also removes the paradox of a non-academically trained veterinary technician being legally eligible to sit for the exam under Washington law, yet not being allowed to because of the state’s contractual obligations.


The WSVMA is concerned for its members.  This was a tough but necessary decision to make.  The Executive Board is fully aware that many practitioners are committed to conducting their own training and understands this approach works well for many in our state.  However, by not moving forward, we may suffer a greater loss when our graduate technicians are not allowed to sit for the exam.


The WSVMA negotiated a final transition date of December 2014, four years past AAVSB's 2010 original deadline. Beginning now, any assistants who wish to obtain licensure through on-the-job training should begin the process immediately in order to complete their five years’ experience before the final change take place.


There will be an inevitable transition that veterinary practices will face as a result of these testing stipulations and the changes necessary to retain the only viable test available to Washington.  The Association is also aware of the potential for a decreased pool of licensed veterinary technicians and the potential hiring difficulties posed to some practices.  Finally, your Association takes no issue with the types of training and job skills provided for non-academically trained technicians by member veterinarians.


The WSVMA is committed to assisting members during this transition period.  The Veterinary Technician Task Force is being reenergized to examine any viable alternatives and make recommendations to the WSVMA Executive Board.  The Association welcomes practices to call and discuss methods and avenues for finding additional licensed veterinary technicians.


We want to remain aware of how this affects our members, so please keep us informed if you face problems related to finding, hiring, and retaining technicians in your practice.




Dr. Debora Wallingford                                                Ms. Candace Joy

WSVMA President                                                         WSVMA Executive Vice President







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