According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are more than 230 programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. Nine programs are offered completely online. Students should check with their veterinary state board for accredited programs in their home state, as well as educational requirements for licensure.
Most states use the national exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards to license veterinary technicians. Vet techs who pass this exam are referred to as Certified Veterinary Technicians.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is the preeminent industry group for professional veterinary technicians. Although not a prerequisite for employment or certification, membership provides many different professional and personal benefits.
The majority of veterinary technicians work in clinical settings at veterinary offices. This is the best place to begin a career search.
Continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification. There are many different resources available to complete continuing education.
Getting an education is the first step to working as a veterinary technician. There are other major pieces of the puzzle that must fall into place prior to employment. These are some of the most common questions asked by students who want to enter the field of veterinary medicine as a vet tech.
Yes. Many scholarships for veterinary technicians are tied to a geographical location, such as the Ray DeVries Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded by the Washington Farm Bureau. There are many national, regional and university-based veterinary technician scholarships as well. Professional organizations, such as the American Veterinary Medicine Association, also award scholarships to aspiring veterinary technicians.
Yes. Full-time students might be eligible for federal Pell Grants, Stafford loans, and other common forms of federal student aid to pay for tuition. Students should check with the financial aid office at their college or vocational school for insight into the many different ways to pay for college.
Congratulations, you’ve completed most of the legwork, and you are almost ready to embark on your career. All that’s left to do is earn licensure in your home state. Licensure is granted by each state’s veterinary board and ensures candidates have the competency and knowledge, and understand the ethical and legal responsibilities that come with working as a veterinary technician.
Yes. However, students enrolled in veterinary technician degree programs can’t work as Certified Veterinary Technicians until they complete their education, pass the VTNE, and earn licensure in their home state. Job opportunities in the field are limited to unskilled duties, such as working as a receptionist, scheduler or performing similar administrative tasks. Students also should carefully consider any issues or problems that might arise if they choose to work while enrolled in school, especially full-time students.
Yes, and they can open additional avenues to employment and potentially lead to increased earnings. One is the Animal Hospice And Palliative Care Certificate Program offered by the American Animal Hospice Association. Other important veterinary specialty certifications include equine nursing, internal medicine, clinical pathology, anesthesia and analgesia and dermatology. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America provides a complete list of specialty certifications.
Employment opportunities for veterinary technicians is expected to increase significantly in the coming years as more and more homeowners take on pets. This section takes an in-depth look at wage and employment expectations for veterinary technicians.
Nationally, veterinary technicians and technologists earned median annual wages of $33,400 in 2017. Wages likely are a bit more for veterinary technologists due to their higher level of educational attainment (bachelor’s degree as opposed to associate degree). The top 10 percent of veterinary technologists and technicians earned closer to $50,000 per year.
Veterinary technicians employed at community colleges, universities, career schools, or local/state agencies took home median annual wages of just over $40,000 annually. Vet techs employed at private veterinary offices earned salaries in line with the profession’s national wage average.
According to Payscale.com, entry-level veterinary technicians earned about $30,000 per year, while more experienced technicians took home average yearly wages of about $36,000. Late-career professionals with years of experience earned just over $40,000 annually. Technicians with a wide range of skills, including phlebotomy, anesthesia, radiology and other areas of experience, typically command greater pay.
The following chart provides detailed state-by-state wage and employment data for veterinary technicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of both veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians is expected to grow by 20,400 new jobs, or 20 percent, through 2026. The majority of veterinary technicians – 91 percent -- are employed at private veterinary clinics. A handful work in research positions at laboratories or local/regional humane societies.
America’s love for pets will help boost employment to about 122,400 veterinary technicians and technologist by 2026. Vet techs primarily will help veterinarians with laboratory work and diagnostic imaging services.
Finding the right veterinary program goes a long way to personal satisfaction during the time spent as a student. Depending on the professional network students build while in school, the right program also influence professional opportunities after graduation. Students should consider the following factors when researching their educational options.
Other primary factors students should consider prior to enrollment include location, school size, student-to-teacher ratio, graduation or completion rate, campus housing options, availability of federal financial aid, and alumni network.
Students can use the search tool provided below to find veterinary technician schools in their home state.
Membership in veterinary technician industry organizations can provide vet techs with many tangible benefits. These include professional development, local and regional networking opportunities, national conferences, and access to continuing education resources.
The following groups include many of the most widely recognized industry associations and organizations dedicated to the veterinary profession:
Organization dedicated to promoting standards of excellence in veterinary nutrition. Provides a path to earn certification as a Veterinary Technician Specialist for experienced vet techs employed in the field of veterinary nutrition.
Provides opportunities for Certified Veterinary Technicians to earn certification in clinical practice, as well as care of small animals, exotic animals and production medicine.
One of the oldest veterinary industry organizations, the AAHA was founded in 1933. Its main focus is to provide accreditation to veterinary companion animal hospitals. The AAHA has more than 3,700 accredited members and industry professionals.
Provides continuing education resources and national credentialing for veterinary technicians. Also provides resources for students preparing to enter accredited veterinary technician programs.
NAVTA was founded in 1981 to provide a voice for veterinary technicians in national issues dealing with the veterinary sciences. The organization offers many different resources for both entry-level and late-career professionals, including a career center and discounts on both continuing education course materials and industry-related insurance services. NAVTA also provides a student-level membership for veterinary technicians enrolled in accredited associate degree programs.
Founded in 1969, the SAVMA functions as the national organization for students enrolled in veterinary education programs. Membership benefits include job and externship opportunities, free registration to the annual ACMA conference, and subscriptions to the trade publication Journal of the AVMA and Vet Gazette, the online student journal of the SAVMA.
One of the country’s leading organizations for veterinary professionals has more than 91,000 members. The AVMA provides accreditation and certification opportunities, a career center and unparalleled job board, subscription to professional trade publications, and networking opportunities at AVMA conferences and events.
From job boards to continuing education to smartphone apps, there are ton of resources to help veterinary technicians increase their professional acumen or perform routine tasks more efficiently. Here are five additional resources that both new and experienced veterinary techs might find useful:
This app for Android-based smartphones helps veterinary technicians quickly and accurately perform daily fluid and energy calculations, infusions, and also converts many different units, such as temperature and measurements.
Provides valuable resources such as contacts to state veterinary medical associations, national veterinary organizations, and veterinary medical schools.
Continuing education is required by many veterinary state boards. Students can use this tool provided by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards to log all continuing education courses.
A joint effort between the North American Veterinary Community and American Animal Hospital Association provides continuing education resources and other avenues for professional advancement for veterinary technicians.
This web- and smartphone-based exam prep tool was created by veterinary experts to help aspiring vet techs prepare for the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
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