top of page
  • Writer's pictureClinique Vet LaSalle

Certified technician

What is a certified animal health technician?

When I was younger (my grandma would tell me: “You are still young!”), I always wished to become a veterinarian. I was imagining saving all the animals and offering them a warm and cozy home. In theory, it’s very nice, but practically, reality hits! As years went by, I did some research and I decided that I actually wanted to be an animal health technician (AHT). Now that I actually am an AHT, I often hear people saying: “Oh, you are an animal health technician! So you are studying to be a vet?” or “You didn’t want to study a bit more to become a vet?”. Well no. Veterinarian and AHT are two very different professions that are made to complete each other. Recently, animal health technicians get more and more opportunities to do some continuing education and enhance their knowledge. This blog will be about the certification of animal health technicians in Quebec, which is according to me, a wonderful opportunity in our profession.

What is an animal health technician?

The title of Animal Health Technician (AHT) is awarded to someone that completed with success the AHT program in cegep. The 3 year program is only offered in a handful of (lucky) institutions (Saint-Hyacinthe, Laflèche, Vanier, La Pocatière, Lionel-Groulx, Sherbrooke…) The intense program is also very in demand and trains tomorrow’s superheroes in the veterinary field (at least that’s how I see it). The profession of AHT is as demanding physically as it is mentally. I figured that one out when I was positioning a Bernese Mountain Dog on the x-ray table, while thinking about the blood analysis I had to get started, but also thinking that I really should get my lunch in the microwave to optimize my time. From pre-consultations to preparing prescriptions, from blood draws to cytological analysis (reading slides on the microscope), from dental cleanings to anesthesia monitoring, clinical technicians are trained in almost every facet of the veterinary field. All that’s left is to use us to our full potential!

VTNE certification

In the past couple of years, AHT certification has been a topic that is more and more talked about. But what exactly is this much talked about certification? The Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) first saw the light of day in the United States. The exam is made of 150 questions that were submitted and approved by veterinarians and technicians. The goal of the exam is to standardize the profession of AHT in North America.

Once the exam is accomplished, the technician officially becomes certified. Multiple advantages come with the title, both for the technician and the employer. First of all, it assures a conformity and a high level of competence, as well as guaranteeing the clients and pet owners, access to a superior level of care. In the past few years, the profession of AHT grew in reputation and in demand, the certification legitimizes the access to better work conditions. As the certification is recognized in Canada and in the United States, it allows some adventurous technicians to travel a bit and learn new techniques and boost their knowledge. I also feel that the certification brings a sense of self-satisfaction and increases professional awareness. Technicians that have more ambition can now use all that enthusiasm! Use your potential my friends! Veterinary specialties now open their doors to AHT that want to specialize themselves in a particular field, which was impossible before.

To be eligible to take the VTNE exam, one needs to have their diploma from a recognized animal health program and be a member in their professional association (in Quebec, it is the Association des Techniciens en Santé Animale du Québec (ATSAQ)). Once the technician is a member of his professional association, he can ask to pass the VTNE. The demand will be examined and approved by the association.

Once the exam is completed with success, the fun part begins, according to me! To keep their title, the certified technician must maintain and actualize their knowledge by doing some continuing education. I always loved being in school, so being “forced” to study is heaven for me. Every 2 years, the certified technician must complete 20 credits of continuing education. Credits can be obtained in many ways: attending congresses/conferences/seminars/webinars, giving conferences on topics of interest to other technicians, redacting articles or participating in the education of the public, following collegial or university classes relevant to the veterinary field, etc.

In conclusion, it is to expand our knowledge and to continue to offer the best service to pet owners that we want to do our certification. It is also a great way to standardize protocols and procedures and to get our profession recognized in the veterinary world.

Wish me luck on my exam!

Myriam Glenn, AHT

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page