A veterinary technician’s job is to help doctors and nurses care for pets. They perform a wide range of duties, including taking x-rays, administering anesthesia, performing surgery and monitoring patients’ vital signs. While on the job, you’ll work with other staff members including doctors and scientists to ensure that animals are given the best possible care.
Veterinary technicians with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, nearly $9,000 more in their annual salary than those with just an associate’s degree.
Vet Tech Salary With Bachelor’s Degree Overview
A veterinarian technician, who is also known as a vet tech, has a variety of duties that include observing and recording the behavior of animals. This can include helping to create treatment plans for animals that need surgery or other medical care. A vet tech salary can vary depending on which field of veterinary medicine you choose to work in.
In order to become a vet tech, you will first need to get an associate’s degree from an accredited school. There are many online programs that offer this degree as well as on campus programs. After graduating from one of these programs, you will be ready to take your certification exam which is administered by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME). Once you have passed this exam, you will be ready to begin your career as a vet tech!
What Does a Vet Tech Do?
Depending on the organization you work with, your duties will likely vary.
However, as a vet tech, it’s likely that you will assist in observing animals’ conditions, ensure animals are comfortable and taken care of, will be responsible for x-ray development and assessment, provide emergency care, and perform lab exams.
You will also act as an assistant to the veterinarian in many cases, work in the research lab, and deal with feeding and caring for the animals in your facility.
Here are a few of the duties that vet techs are responsible for:
- bathing, feeding, and caring for animals
- collecting lab samples
- working the research lab
- providing emergency assistance to doctors
- taking and developing x-rays
- caring for injured or sick animals
- administering vaccines and helping with routine procedures
- documenting animal behavior
Salaries for Veterinary Assistant with a Bachelor’s Degree
According to our 100% employer reported salary sources the median salary for a Veterinary Assistant with a Bachelor’s Degree is $29,705 – $33,220. Please try our salary wizard to explore how other factors like location, Years of experience and number of direct reports can impact your base pay and bonus.
How To Become A Vet Tech
State and specialty requirements vary by state and specialty. Different regional laws define the scope of practice in this field. For example, New Jersey does not require their vet techs to be professionally credentialed. Other states, such as Indiana and Tennessee, require these animal healthcare workers to be licensed and registered.
For areas requiring professional certification, registration, or licensure, the requirements typically involve completing two to four years of postsecondary education at an approved institution, paying an application fee, and maintaining the credential through completing continuing education (CE) hours.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming a vet tech:
Step 1: Graduate from high school or earn a GED.
In addition to a love of animals and empathy, vet techs typically have strong backgrounds in science with high marks in classes such as biology, physiology (if offered), and chemistry. Due to the hands-on lab work involved in many vet tech positions, students must be comfortable handing sensitive scientific instruments, conducting tests, and interpreting results. Some people at this stage may find it helpful to volunteer in animal clinics, shelters, or other facilities handling furry, feathered, or scaly-skinned patients.
Step 2: Complete an accredited degree program in veterinary technology or animal science (2-4 years). Regardless of one’s state of residence, it’s advisable to seek out an associate or bachelor’s program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVTEA evaluates a program’s comprehensiveness of curricula, student outcomes, quality of facilities, finances, and admissions processes.
Admissions committees at CVTEA-accredited programs generally call for official high school transcripts (with coursework specified above); official test scores (SAT or ACT, and TOEFL for non-native speakers of English); undergoing a background check; providing proof of immunizations and health insurance; and paying an application fee. Some more competitive programs may call for veterinary experience, letters of recommendation, or candidate interviews.
Typical courses in these veterinary technology programs include:
- Anatomy & physiology
- Animal dentistry
- Animal nursing
- Clinical toxicology
- Diagnostic imaging
- Mammalian anatomy & physiology
- Research methods
- Veterinary clinic management
- Veterinary medical calculations
- Veterinary medical ethics
There are both on-campus and online vet tech schools available. It’s crucial to note that some state credentialing entities may waive the education requirement if a vet tech has several years of experience. Please verify regional requirements with local boards, a list of which is provided by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVB 2022).
Step 3: Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (timeline and state requirements vary). This test—commonly referred to as the VTNE—is offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The VTNE is a typical requirement for licensure, certification, or registration as a vet tech in most U.S. states. In addition, as a proxy for program quality, national law mandates that schools must disclose their three-year, VTNE first-time passing rate among program graduates. Therefore, prospective students are encouraged to check out their program’s pass rate on this exam to verify that past students have met national standards.
The cost of the VTNE exam is $330. It is offered annually for three months and tests candidates’ knowledge in nine distinct domains: pharmacy & pharmacology; surgical nursing; dentistry; laboratory procedures; animal care and nursing; diagnostic imaging; anesthesia; emergency medicine; and pain management.
Step 4: Apply for state credentialing (timeline and state requirements vary). As mentioned above, vet tech credentialing standards vary by state, but typically involve sending official transcripts from a CVTEA-accredited program, submitting VTNE scores, and paying an application fee. Some states, such as Washington, also require a state examination as part of their credentialing process. Others ask for official proof of American citizenship, passport photos, or a background check.
States also vary by the nomenclature of their credentialing in the profession, whether it be registered veterinary technician (RVT), certified veterinary technician (CVT), or licensed veterinary technician (LVT). For more information on the professional credentialing process, please reference the section below or individual state program pages.
Step 5: Renew credential and complete continuing education (CE) requirements (timeline and state requirements vary). Vet techs must maintain their professional licensure, registration, or certification by completing CE hours. These can be fulfilled through qualified conferences, publications, presentations, online coursework, and other methods. The types of approved CE vary by region. A list of every state’s credentialing requirements, agencies, and a list of vet tech CE resources are included in the sections below.