5 Best Practices to Train Vet Techs

Posted by Laura Amendola on May 7, 2024

Investing in a robust training program for your veterinary technicians is good business. Through training, you give an already valuable member of the team the tools they need to contribute even more. Those tools can then increase your practice revenue. A credentialed veterinary technician can boost the typical veterinarian’s gross income by more than $78,000 according to a study by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians.


As more practices begin to understand the true value that vet tech credentialing can bring, they are seeking out certified, registered, or licensed veterinary technicians. The next best thing to hiring a credentialed veterinary technician is hiring a curious and motivated professional and then helping them to prepare for credentialing with the right training.


vets with dog.

How to train your vet techs

Training your veterinary staff to be the best they can be involves more than on-the-job training.


Here are some best practices for training vet techs:


1. Assign a mentor.

When vet techs have a mentor, both the technician and the practice improve quickly. This is particularly useful for those fresh out of a vet tech program. The technician is able to ask questions and rehearse techniques under an expert eye. They hone their skills by combining hands-on experience with the fundamentals they learn in training. At the same time, the recent graduate or student completing their externship can show the mentor techniques and advancements that might be new to the practice.


If possible, the mentor should be a graduate of an AVMA accredited training program. In cases where the practice doesn’t yet have credentialed veterinary technicians, you can assign a highly experienced technician to serve as mentor.


Read more: 4 Veterinary Industry Trends Practice Owners Need to Know


2. Provide access to continuing education.

Give employees access to continuing education. Not only is it required in many states, but continuing education also offers opportunities to improve skills and bring new ideas into the practice. Staying current with the latest tools, technology, and advancements keeps the practice relevant.


Each state has its own requirements for continuing education to maintain vet tech credentialing. The practice as a whole should value and celebrate continuing education, rather than doing the bare minimum to meet CE requirements. All members of the team should engage in continuing education whenever possible.


A great way for the whole practice to have easy access to this is by partnering with an accredited training program. You may see better retention rates when you offer opportunities for more training or continuing education since your employees will feel like there’s a path to upward mobility at your practice.


Read more: 5 Ways Employee Training Benefits Vet Clinics (and Patient Care)


3. Respect and utilize veterinary technicians.

The best training in the world is useless if you don’t trust your veterinary technicians to apply what they’ve learned. In most states, veterinarians are responsible for diagnosis, surgery, and prescribing medication. Credentialed vet techs can legally do everything that falls outside of those three areas. Expand the vet tech job description to include everything they are legally allowed to do. Empowering them to work at the top of their license shows that you respect their talents and value what they’ve learned. This, in turn, encourages them to learn even more.


Fully trusting and utilizing the skills of veterinary technicians can take time. The first college trained credentialed veterinary technicians graduated in the 1960’s. Since then, veterinarians have slowly begun to recognize the value these trained professionals can bring.


Ensuring your practice is a respectful workplace can help build good culture among your employees. Vicki McLain, CVT, LATG, VTS-LAM and Penn Foster veterinary technician instructor, shares how important having a good culture at your practice is:


“When you have a good culture, you have good mentors and leaders and people that are willing to work with you and train you and come together as a collective unit. You can do anything, even if you have people that don't have the strongest skill set to start, if you have a good culture.”


Read more: 8 Ways to Improve Culture at Your Vet Practice


4. Adjust payment structures to match training levels.

To incentivize training and reflect the added value credentialed veterinary technicians bring, practices should increase pay accordingly.


Any tech’s rate of pay is directly influenced by their level of training. Vicki advises that seeking out a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology allows students in this field to “get to the next level or get into management.” This structure encourages all veterinary technicians to enroll in an AVMA-accredited veterinary technician training college. The resulting increase in quality of care is so great that they’ve started offering vet tech appointments. These appointments are less expensive for clients and allow the vet tech to operate at the top of their license, saving time and money for the practice.


It’s important to note that while wages for vet techs have been increasing, they have not increased enough according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians. Offering fair salaries for your vet techs can motivate your employees to seek more training.


5. Help them earn a vet tech degree.

While earning a vet tech degree, technicians learn fundamentals underpinning the skills they use every day. While techniques may vary, fundamentals are core principles that apply across all practices.


Take, for example, total sterility. This fundamental concept can be applied in different ways across your practice. It might inform scrub procedures or dictate who is allowed in the surgical suite. Ultimately, the way different practices apply fundamentals may vary, but the concept of avoiding sepsis never changes. A vet tech degree program teaches fundamentals so veterinary technicians can make informed decisions about day-to-day care.


A great practice for employers is to promote from within, so helping your employees earn their degree is a win-win for both your clinic and your employees.


Read more: Investing in Your Veterinary Team: A Guide to Professional Development & Beyond


Position your practice for success.

Your practice simply can’t reach its highest potential without well-trained and credentialed veterinary technicians. When trained and empowered to take on all of the tasks allowed under their credential, veterinary technicians can improve the bottom line, increase client satisfaction, and elevate patient care.


Penn Foster’s Veterinary Technician Degree Online is a flexible AVMA-CVTEA fully accredited Veterinary Technician training program. While earning their associate’s degree, students prepare for the VTNE exam to become a credentialed veterinary technician. To start training your veterinary technicians, contact a Penn Foster training expert today.