Veterinary Technician Career - Schools, Salary & Outlook

Veterinary technicians help veterinarians care for animals. They typically work for private clinical practices or in research facilities, and their duties include tasks, such as preparing samples, running lab tests, monitoring animals and performing routine care, and recording information about an animal's heath. While there can be challenging aspects of the job, it is an appealing career for those who love animals and want to make a difference for both animals and their owners. Most veterinary technicians are employed by professional, scientific, and technical services; colleges, universities, and professional schools; or scientific research and development services.

Veterinary Technician Salary: 2009 BLS Information

The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a variety of information about veterinary technologist and technician salaries as of May 2009. The mean annual veterinary technician salary in 2009 was $30,580, but the 90th percentile earned more than $43,080. The top-paying industries for veterinary technicians are as follows:

  • The federal executive branch ($47,020)
  • General medical and surgical hospitals ($42,410)
  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing ($40,630)
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services ($40,170)

The top-paying states for veterinary technicians are Connecticut, New York, Washington, D.C., California, and Nevada. If you're interested in living in a high-paying city, consider the top-paying metropolitan areas:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California ($43,100)
  • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, California ($42,990)
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, California ($42,950)
  • Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York ($40,980)

Of course, you'll want to live in states and metropolitan areas that not only pay well, but also boast a lower cost of living so you can make the most of your veterinary technician salary. For a promising job outlook, consider working in College Station in Bryan, Texas, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, or Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado, since these cities all have the highest percentage of veterinary technicians compared to the total number of workers and also boast good salaries in comparison with their fairly low costs of living.

For the best states to work, consider Illinois, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, since these states all pay above-average veterinary technician salaries, yet are among the 22 states with the lowest costs of living.

Veterinary Technician Training: Online and Traditional Coursework

Most veterinary technician programs culminate in an associate's degree and take approximately two years to complete. If you're interested in becoming a veterinary technician, look for programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as these allow you to take the credentialing examination in any state. While it is possible to get veterinary technician training online, all programs require clinical and laboratory courses that involve hands-on training, meaning that you need to dedicate some time to study that is not online.

All aspiring veterinary technicians must pass a state credentialing exam to become licensed, registered, or certified. The National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam is used in most states. If you decide to work in research, you typically need some years of education and experience to qualify to take the exam for American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification.

The BLS reports that the employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow by 36 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average.