What is a Certified Veterinary Technician?
A certified veterinary technician (CVT) is an individual that has completed an accredited two or four-year program in veterinary technology and has passed the National board examination. A CVT plays an important role on the veterinary health care team by providing nursing care and laboratory testing for animals. Job responsibilities range from technical duties such as nursing care, collection and processing laboratory samples, anesthesia administration and monitoring, and radiography, to managerial duties such as ordering and inventory, personnel management, record keeping, and client education. There are many different employment opportunities available to a CVT. These include small animal hospitals, large animal veterinary practices, specialty practices, biomedical research, pharmaceutical industry, zoos, and many others. The job market is wide open, even for new graduates.
How long does it take to get a degree in veterinary technology?
The Veterinary Technology program at Ridgewater College is designed as a five-semester, two-year program. Students may take three or more years to finish the program depending on their academic success, hours worked while in college, and advice from a program faculty member.
How much will my education cost?
In addition to tuition, books run about $1000 - $1200 for the total time in the program. Students are encouraged to keep their books because many of the veterinary technology books are used each semester. Laboratory costs including safety eyewear, lab jackets, surgical scrubs, coveralls and boots, stethoscope, etc. will run about $150 total over the two years. Numerous scholarships, grants, and loans are available through the Financial Aid office.
I haven’t been to school in many years so will I be at a disadvantage?
Many students in the program have been out of high school for a number of years and some are students who have been away from school for more than ten years. Coming back to school at first can be a challenge but we find that most students are highly motivated to succeed. Ridgewater College and the veterinary technology program offer an extensive support system to help students succeed.
Are any of the veterinary technology courses offered online?
Many of the general education courses such as English, Social Science, and others are offered online. Most veterinary technology courses are only offered during the daytime between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Most of our students are able to maintain a fulltime load and still work up to 20 hours per week. However, working and school take energy and thought to balance school, work, and family. One class, Introduction to Veterinary Science is offered online.
Are classes offered in the summer?
Many of the general education courses including chemistry, biology, English, social sciences, etc are offered in the summer. One elective Shelter Medicine is also offered during the summer session. The veterinary technology courses are only scheduled from August until May. Most students complete their internship either in the summer or fall of their second year in the program.
Is there a specific cutoff date for application to the veterinary technology program?
Applications for the program begin September 1st each year preceding an August start date the next year. The program typically fills its acceptance list sometime prior to April 1st. Interested students are encouraged to apply early well before April 1st.
Is it difficult to get into the program? Are there a limited number of slots each year?
Anyone meeting OR working on the entry requirements can apply to the program. Due to the open admission process, the first students who have successfully completed or are working on the admission requirements will be accepted. The admission’s office and program staff work closely together to estimate the number of students to accept knowing that some applicants will change their mind or not complete the admission requirements prior to the start of classes in August. The program intends to start with approximately 60 students each August. The accepted students are divided into four lab groups so that there are never more than 16 students per lab. One of the strengths of the program is that class size in the labs is small and the number of staff is excellent. Every lab will have both an instructor and a certified veterinary technician laboratory assistant to help students learn their skills. The doubling of staff in each lab guarantees that the ratio of students to instructor is never greater than 8:1.
What are the admission requirements?
A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary for acceptance into Ridgewater College. In additions, students applying to the Vet Tech program are required to successfully complete one year of equivalent high school biology and chemistry, earning a grade of C (2.0 GPA) or higher in each. Applicants must complete the college placement test with specific minimum achievement scores:
Reading - 77.5
Sentence skills - 69.5
Math - test into MATH 98 or higher
Applicants not meeting these specific requirements are encouraged to talk to a Ridgewater academic advisor.
Applicants can apply while completing high school or the required classes. These applicants will be accepted on the “tentative acceptance or TA” status pending completion of the requirements. All acceptance requirements must be completed before the start of classes in August. Applicants do not have to take the SAT or the ACT. However, if an applicant does take one of these tests, and scores high in some areas, they may not have to take all parts of the Ridgewater College placement test. Otherwise, all accepted students will be expected to take the placement examination prior to registration for the program. Placement exam scores allow program faculty and other College staff to assist students with their academic schedules.
Once a student has applied and been accepted (either full acceptance or tentative acceptance), the student will be sent an “Experience Verification” form. It is an expectation of the College that students will spend at least one week in a veterinary environment observing a veterinary technician. The form is completed by the supervisor of this experience and should be returned to the Admission’s office upon completion. This job shadowing experience is crucial to the applicants understanding of the job responsibilities of the veterinary technician. All admission requirements must be met by the time classes begin in August.
What other requirements are there for the program?
Students within the program must maintain personal health insurance during their entire time within the veterinary technology program. Students must also be current on immunization for tetanus.
What happens after I graduate?
After you have finished all required courses and received the Associate in Applied Science degree, you should apply to take the National Board certification examination. This test is offered three times yearly. Once you pass the examination, you can obtain the certification credential through the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association. Please be aware that there is a cost (not paid to Ridgewater College) to take the national examination. The National examination may be taken in other States. Scores can also be transferred to other States should you move. There is also a charge for score transfer.
What will I do as a veterinary technician?
A veterinary technician is knowledgeable in the care and handling of animals, in routine laboratory tests, clinical procedures, and hospital responsibilities. The technician is a key member of the veterinary health care team to provide animals with medical care. Technicians work with veterinarians in veterinary practices, biological research, pharmaceutical companies, and other animal job opportunities. Veterinary technicians can perform all tasks on animals except those forbidden by State statute that include performing surgery, diagnosing illness, and prescribing drugs.
Where does Ridgewater College get the animals that students work on?
We are very proud of all the animals we save each year in the Veterinary Technology program. All of our dogs and cats are unwanted animals that we get from two county humane societies (Kandiyohi and Redwood Counties). We usually get about 10 - 13 dogs and 12 -16 cats per semester from these humane societies. Students perform routine health care including vaccinations, parasite treatments, and weekly physical examinations on each animal. All animals are either castrated or spayed while at Ridgewater College. Students work in teams of 6 - 10 students each morning and then another shift each afternoon to provide normal exercise and feeding care of the animals. At the end of each semester, the animals are put up for adoption. We have a 100% adoption extending back for many years. We are very proud to save 50+ animals per year.
Our exotic and small furry animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and mice come from a number of suppliers including a local pet shop that we have established an excellent working arrangement. The small furries are also put up for adoption at the end of the semester and some of these animals are returned to the local pet shop.
How will I find an internship site?
Students spend their last semester completing twelve weeks of internship in a planned work experience at an approved veterinary clinic or hospital, diagnostic laboratory, research facility, zoo, or other veterinary related industry. This off-campus experience will be overseen and coordinated by a veterinary technology department faculty member. Students choose the site for their internship with department approval from a large list of veterinary facilities that is maintained by department faculty. Students pay for internship and subsequently the student’s progress while off-campus is monitored by department faculty. Approximately, ¾ of the internships are paid experiences. Students are responsible for their own housing and transportation costs for the internship experience.
Is there an exchange program available?
Ridgewater College participates in an exchange program with Hansenberg College in Denmark. Students from Denmark visit and live with Ridgewater students and students from Ridgewater visit and live with students in Denmark. Ridgewater is the only Vet Tech program to offer this opportunity!