What is the Average Vet Tech Salary?

Do you love animals?  Do you hurt when they’re hurt or sick?  If yes, then why don’t you find a job that’s in sync with your passion?  As the cliché goes:  find a job you like doing then it won’t be a job any more.  Well, be a vet tech, and you can spend a lifetime doing the things you’d do on your own for free.  The job often won’t be easy, but it would definitely be fulfilling.  And best of all, according to the US Labor Statistics, the job outlook for vet techs for this decade (2010-2020) is terrific:  52% growth, which the government deems “much faster than average”!

Now, you no doubt have a zillion questions zipping through your mind.  What are the duties of a vet tech?  What does vet tech training entail?  What education requirements do I need?  And, most all, what is the average vet tech salary?  Well, sirs and madams, continue reading to our detailed veterinary technician information!

AVERAGE SALARY FOR A VET TECH

First of all, you have to know vet techs (veterinary technicians/technologists) are not veterinary assistants, which is another job altogether.  Please see our page on vet assistants for more info, including their salary.  The following salary info is for vet techs only:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, the median vet tech salary was $30,290 (roughly $14.56 an hour) with the top 10% making over $44,030 a year ($21.17 an hour) and the bottom 10% $21,030 ($10.11 an hour).

These statistics, however, vary greatly depending on where you live:

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The states with the highest wages for vet techs are:  Alaska ($39,380 median annual salary), Virginia ($27,330), Connecticut ($37,280), New York ($37,150), and Delaware ($36,780).

Of course, vet techs should also be aware of the different living costs in each state.  A high-30s salary will go a lot further in Alaska than a high-30s salary in New York.

If you want to go further into details, here are vet tech salaries broken down within states:

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Here are a few snapshots of what the average vet tech salary looks like in some random cities:

Cleveland, Ohio, $40,000

Raleigh, North Carolina, $24,000

Knoxville, Tennessee, $48,000

Also, the holder of a bachelor’s degree can make more money than one who has only an associate degree.

VET TECH CAREER INFO

So what does all this mean?  Well, it means that while you’re never get rich being a vet tech, you could (depending on where you live) earn a respectable and comfortable salary.  And like teaching or social work, your rewards will not be monetarily based.  Can you live with that?

If yes, continue on.  We’ll be quickly sketching out vet tech information including job descriptions and duties for vet both technicians and vet technologists (we’ll get into the difference below) and how to become one.

VET TECHNICIAN

The majority of vet technicians in the United States work either in clinics or in emergency animal care centers, though some find employment in zoos, animal shelters, kennels, research laboratories, and private clinics. Vet techs provide aid in such tasks and procedures as:

  • physical exams
  • fixing (i.e., neutering)
  • dental procedures
  • putting animals to sleep
  • giving animals their shots

Vet technicians also work in laboratories and aid scientists in research.  This research’s benefits extend to both animals and humans.  Additionally, according to labor statistics, those vet techs who work in research often get paid more ($38,230) than other areas, though those working for the federal government get paid the most ($48,370).

VET TECHNOLOGIST

A vet technologist is essentially the same thing as a vet technician (they’re both referred to as “vet techs”) except for the degree required (see the work and educational requirements section of this site for further information).  Vet Technologists also tend to work in laboratory settings more than a vet technician–and often get paid more too.  Essentially, what the nurse is to the doctor, the vet technologist is to the vet—a provider of clinical and surgical assistance who takes X rays, helps with operations, does lab tests, takes blood and urine samples from animals, and oversees the work of vet technicians.

CLICK HERE for a more detailed account of a vet tech’s duties.

EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS AND VET TECH TRAINING

Vet techs need to have finished high school.  Vet technicians need to complete a 2-year program associate’s degree for veterinary technicians.  Vet technologists, on the other hand, need to complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree in vet technology.  All programs need to be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

There are 191 accredited vet tech schools, and 21 colleges that offer 4-year vet technology programs.  There are 8 schools that offer online vet tech programs

CLICK HERE to find AVMA-accredited programs in your state and also online programs.

LICENSES AND CERTIFICATES

Many states also require new vet tech grads to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to prove that they possess the skills necessary for the job.  In fact, when searching for a school, it might be smart to ask if they offer classes on passing the VTNE.

But even if a person intends to work in a state that does not have such a requirement, having taken the exam is an excellent thing to have on her resume, and employers generally give presence to those who have.

After passing the exam, the candidate must then fulfill the licensing requirements, which vary from one state to another.  Like the average vet tech salary, each state is different so make sure to check your state’s licensing division:

CLICK HERE to find the licensing and certification requirements for your state.

And for vet technologists who’ve graduated from a program and want to work in a lab or research, they can check out the American Association for Laboratory Science (AALAS) website.  That association offers three certificate levels–assistant laboratory animal technician (ALAT), laboratory animal technician (LAT), and laboratory animal technologist (LATG)–that would provide an edge to people to want to work in labs.