Veterinary Technician - FAQ'S | St. Clair College

What is a Veterinary Technician?

A Veterinary Technician is a specially trained person who works as an essential part of the veterinary medical team, to provide the highest quality of animal health care. Veterinary Technicians find careers in veterinary practices dealing with dogs, cats, birds, horses, cattle and pocket pets. They also work in research facilities, teaching, zoological parks, humane societies and with the federal and provincial governments.

Program Objectives

Students who graduate from this program will have been trained to work at the technical level in the field of animal health. The primary objective of the Veterinary Technician Program at the St. Clair College is to provide personnel capable of assisting veterinarians in practice. Graduates from the program have been successfully placed in small animal, equine, large animal, mixed practices, research institutions, and humane societies.

Other fields covered by graduates include pharmaceutical companies, government regulatory positions, zoological parks, and exotic animal practice.

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU)
General Performance Objectives for Veterinary Technician Programs are set by MTCU.

The successful completion of the Veterinary Technician program enables the graduate to:

  1. Perform basic patient examinations and collect data on vital signs.
  2. Restrain and manage small animals in clinical situations.
  3. Administer medications by common drug routes and prepare pharmaceuticals as prescribed by a veterinarian.
  4. Prepare anesthetic delivery systems, induce anesthesia, and monitor patients under anesthesia.
  5. Prepare and maintain the surgical area and assist during surgical procedures.
  6. Perform dental prophylactic procedures on dogs and cats.
  7. Produce standard diagnostic radiographs.
  8. Collect and process samples for diagnostic laboratory work.
  9. Perform common veterinary diagnostic tests, such as blood chemistries, differentials, culture and sensitivities and EKG’s.
  10. Perform basic veterinary practice management including computer applications.
  11. Recognize behavioral signs of small animals.
  12. Counsel clients especially in the area of pet nutrition.

Program Description

The Veterinary Technician program at St. Clair College should be considered a medical and scientific learning experience.

The program is fully accredited by the:

  • College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO)
  • Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
  • Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT)
  • Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC)

Courses in the first year deal mainly with the basic disciplines although invariably in an applied manner. These courses are considered essential in order to build a firm base for the clinical and applied subjects taken later in the program.

Clinical experience begins with animal care duties in the first semester. The amount of time spent working with equipment and animals increases steadily from first to fourth semester. In the final semester, more than 50% of the students’ time is spent in a laboratory or teaching clinic with practical applied topics. Work integrated experience through co-op, placements and externship is a vital component of this program.

Throughout the program, technical performance is evaluated in addition to theoretical knowledge. It is felt by the program faculty that competence in both of these areas is necessary to be a successful graduate.

For more detailed outlines of curriculum and course contents, visit the Vet-Tech program page.

Plan for Success

Over the past years, discussions with and surveys of the unsuccessful students in the program have identified the following causes for failure:

  • Lack of familiarity with the field. Many applicants have no realistic idea of what they will be involved in as graduates.
  • Lack of ability in basic sciences, mathematics and the English language. Some applicants are not able to handle the mathematics and reading assignments. In addition, many students are not inclined toward scientific topics.
  • Homesickness may be a problem as a large portion of the V.T. student body comes from outside of the immediate area. This appears to present difficulties to people who in many cases are away from home for the first time.
  • Students who have not taken higher level (university, university/college) courses in secondary school tend to have more difficulty with the program.

To provide applicants with a realistic view of the program skills to be acquired and the profession we recommend that they:

  • Visit a few veterinary hospitals and acquire some work experience in at least one of the hospitals;
  • Converse with graduate V.T.s and Veterinarians;
  • Contact the program coordinator, registrar’s office, or counseling services to answer any questions.

It should be noted that due to the specialized nature of courses within the V.T. program, students from other health or bio-science areas are rarely granted credit for courses taken elsewhere. Similarly students who transfer to other programs from the V.T. program should not expect transfer credit of advanced standing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. There is a fully equipped modern teaching hospital as well as a kennel area and a laboratory animal facility for rats, rabbits and mice. The teaching hospital is fully accredited by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (meeting the standards for veterinary hospitals in Ontario).

Most are animals from a local pound. These are used for practicing the administration of medications, preparing for surgery, radiography and other clinical procedures. The laboratory animals are bought from a licensed supplier. The animals are used for teaching purposes only. No animal experimentation is conducted at St. Clair College. All guidelines and policies of the Canadian Council on Animal Care are adhered to in the program.

No, we do not service any animals from outside the College. We maintain our own animal colony.

Students in the V.T. program are assigned to the care of animals and cleaning of the facilities. Much of these animal care duties are to be performed outside of regular class hours. This includes, for example, in the 1st semester two (2) separate weeks of kennel duty with duties before and after class. In some semesters, weekend duties are assigned.

The students and staff operate a highly successful private adoption program for suitable animals from our colony.

The Veterinarians on staff do all of the surgery, with students preparing and assisting.

In semester 2, four (4) hours per week and in semester 3 and 4, eight (8) hours per week are spent in our College clinical facilities. 2nd year students spend a minimum of 12 days in local veterinary hospitals. A 2 week externship placement in an animal facility also occurs in the 2nd and 4th semester. In addition, much of the classroom work deals with clinical topics.

Students learn theory and techniques related to giving medications by mouth and by injection; collecting blood samples; inducing anesthesia and monitoring patients and preparing patients for surgery; taking radiographs (X-rays); dentistry; and many other procedures. Most of the procedures which nurses and other paramedical persons do for people are conducted by Veterinary Technicians.

The other area of importance is the laboratory. Students perform common laboratory tests on blood, urine, feces on multiple species. Covering all areas of microbiology, parasitology, cytology, hematology, urinalysis, and sample preparation using latest industry equipment.

It is very valuable to you, the student, to have been working in a veterinary hospital to make sure that this is really what you want and to give a perspective to formal courses. Every year we have students who leave us because they find that this program really is not what they thought it would be. Students who have had experience in a veterinary hospital generally seem better able to make the decision to enter the V.T. program.

With or without prior experience, you are welcome to visit the College and speak with the faculty or counselors before applying or when you are accepted. Visits can be arranged by contacting the Recruitment Department at (519) 972-2727, ext. 2760.

In recent years about 60 students have been selected each year from over 500 applicants.

Yes. There is a minimum of 10-12 full days required in local hospitals, plus a 2 week externship in both 2nd and 4th semester.

Many of our students come from outside of Essex County. The biggest problem is finding a room or apartment which has easy access to the College. It is suggested that you visit Windsor in the summer to arrange accommodation. For further housing information, please contact the Housing Office at (519) 972-2720.

St. Clair College also now has a Residence on campus (call 519-966-1601) or check our website under Student Services and Campus Life for both Housing and Residence Information.

St. Clair College has an excellent gymnasium, an indoor pool and various intramural and varsity sports programs.

St. Clair’s program is fully accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). This accreditation may be recognized in some American States as well. The program is also accredited by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) and Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

Excellent. Graduates readily find employment provided they are seriously seeking it and are not opposed to relocation.

Lately, we are seeing more and more RVTs entering fields other than veterinary practice. The Federal and Provincial governments are both looking to RVTs for positions in inspection and enforcement of regulations. Pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospital research laboratories are also hiring RVTs.

One reason for pointing out some of these other career opportunities is to alert you at an early stage to the possibilities outside veterinary practices. These alternative positions generally pay much better than practice and deserve your consideration.

An articulation agreement exists between St. Clair College and St. Matthew’s University, School of Veterinary Medicine.

St. Matthew’s University will accept for admission to its educational program leading to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM),  all qualified Veterinary Technician Program graduates of St. Clair College who successfully complete the VT program in accordance with the terms of this agreement.

Upon successfully graduating from St. Clair College, you are eligible to write the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).  Arrangements are made through the OAVT to write this exam. Additional requirements include a police clearance and a professionalism and ethics workshop. Upon successful completion of all aspects, you become a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). There is a fee for this examination. St. Clair College graduates have done extremely well on this examination.

The OAVT is the registering body for Veterinary Technicians in Ontario. Check their website at

The OAVT will answer your inquiries if you write to:

P.O. Box 833
Guelph, Ontario
N1H 6L8

Phone: 1-800-675-1859
Fax: 519-836-3638

This program offers a livestock course in the 2nd year. Practical hands-on experience is gained through field trips, labs and clinics.

This program offers an exotic pet care course in the 2nd year. The students become proficient in the handling, husbandry and medical procedures of birds. They become familiar with the care of ferrets, chinchillas, hedgehogs, reptiles and fish.

This program offers a Laboratory Animal Care course in the 2nd year. The students become proficient in the handling, husbandry and medical procedures of rabbits, rodents and guinea pigs.

V.T. graduates from St. Clair College have worked in every province. Obtaining RVT status in Ontario will allow you to work in any province without having to write another provincial examination.

It is difficult to obtain a work visa. However, several graduates in the past have obtained visas and are working in Michigan and other States. Many States do have registration, licensing or certification exams (most use the VTNE).

Contact the program Coordinator if your inquiry is about the program generally, or the Admission Office if your question is about your application. Please write, call, e-mail or fax us if you need any information. Don’t wait until the first week of school.