5 Steps to Becoming a Vet Tech

Step 1
Complete an AS degree in veterinary technology.
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.
Step 2
Pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
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.
Step 3
Become a member of NAVTA.
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.
Step 4
Find a job in a veterinary clinic.
The majority of veterinary technicians work in clinical settings at veterinary offices. This is the best place to begin a career search.
Step 5
Maintain certification.
Continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification. There are many different resources available to complete continuing education.
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FAQs on Becoming a Veterinary Technician

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.

1. Are there scholarships available for veterinary technician degree programs? 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.
2. Can I get federal financial aid for enrolling in a veterinary technician training program? 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.
3. I completed my college degree and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam … now what? 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.
4. Can I work while going to school? 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.
5. Are there any specialty vet tech certifications I can or should pursue? 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.

Vet Tech Salary & Job Growth

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.

Alabama Mean wage annual: $30,940

Currently Employed: 1,000

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 22.20%

Alaska Mean wage annual: $41,160

Currently Employed: 190

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13.20%

Arizona Mean wage annual: $33,600

Currently Employed: 1,580

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 39.00%

Arkansas Mean wage annual: $26,410

Currently Employed: 400

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13.10%

California Mean wage annual: $39,690

Currently Employed: 9,780

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 29.80%

Colorado Mean wage annual: $34,460

Currently Employed: 3,920

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 43.50%

Connecticut Mean wage annual: $43,360

Currently Employed: 1,660

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17.50%

Delaware Mean wage annual: $33,290

Currently Employed: 410

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 14.30%

Florida Mean wage annual: $31,930

Currently Employed: 8,070

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 35.20%

Georgia Mean wage annual: $31,340

Currently Employed: 2,940

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 15.20%

Hawaii Mean wage annual: $35,680

Currently Employed: 390

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 15.50%

Idaho Mean wage annual: $28,980

Currently Employed: 600

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Illinois Mean wage annual: $35,290

Currently Employed: 4,040

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 24.50%

Indiana Mean wage annual: $32,140

Currently Employed: 1,640

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 27.60%

Iowa Mean wage annual: $34,730

Currently Employed: 870

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 26.10%

Kansas Mean wage annual: $31,580

Currently Employed: 740

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 28.50%

Kentucky Mean wage annual: $31,880

Currently Employed: 1,380

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 20.90%

Louisiana Mean wage annual: $26,000

Currently Employed: 1,150

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 25.30%

Maine Mean wage annual: $34,930

Currently Employed: 720

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13.60%

Maryland Mean wage annual: $35,200

Currently Employed: 2,670

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 33.80%

Massachusetts Mean wage annual: $40,950

Currently Employed: 3,170

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 12.40%

Michigan Mean wage annual: $34,620

Currently Employed: 2,520

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 24.70%

Minnesota Mean wage annual: $37,450

Currently Employed: 2,380

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 14.70%

Mississippi Mean wage annual: $34,580

Currently Employed: 540

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 19.30%

Missouri Mean wage annual: $34,840

Currently Employed: 1,700

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 19.50%

Montana Mean wage annual: $31,330

Currently Employed: 250

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 37.30%

Nebraska Mean wage annual: $32,150

Currently Employed: 800

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 28.50%

Nevada Mean wage annual: $37,600

Currently Employed: 620

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 26.30%

New Hampshire Mean wage annual: $34,330

Currently Employed: 860

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 20.90%

New Jersey Mean wage annual: $36,720

Currently Employed: 2,880

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 15.30%

New Mexico Mean wage annual: $32,370

Currently Employed: 670

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 11.20%

New York Mean wage annual: $42,840

Currently Employed: 4,660

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 22.40%

North Carolina Mean wage annual: $31,350

Currently Employed: 3,340

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 32.60%

North Dakota Mean wage annual: $36,290

Currently Employed: 260

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 21.60%

Ohio Mean wage annual: $32,700

Currently Employed: 3,360

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 20.40%

Oklahoma Mean wage annual: $27,370

Currently Employed: 820

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 20.30%

Oregon Mean wage annual: $35,310

Currently Employed: 1,810

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 23.60%

Pennsylvania Mean wage annual: $35,880

Currently Employed: 5,650

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 18.20%

Rhode Island Mean wage annual: N/A

Currently Employed: N/A

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 18.20%

South Carolina Mean wage annual: $30,930

Currently Employed: 1,790

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 19.60%

South Dakota Mean wage annual: $31,630

Currently Employed: 290

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 15.00%

Tennessee Mean wage annual: $33,130

Currently Employed: 1,680

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 38.20%

Texas Mean wage annual: $30,820

Currently Employed: 10,570

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 31.20%

Utah Mean wage annual: $29,620

Currently Employed: 1,000

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 78.60%

Vermont Mean wage annual: $34,420

Currently Employed: 450

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 16.80%

Virginia Mean wage annual: $37,050

Currently Employed: 1,820

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 31.20%

Washington Mean wage annual: $37,640

Currently Employed: 2,120

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 34.50%

West Virginia Mean wage annual: $29,250

Currently Employed: 330

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 11.40%

Wisconsin Mean wage annual: $32,920

Currently Employed: 2,110

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13.00%

Wyoming Mean wage annual: $30,110

Currently Employed: 250

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 5.90%

Job Outlook 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 a Veterinary Technician Program

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.

Vet Tech Associations & Groups

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:

Additional Resources for Vet Techs

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:

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