Veterinary Technician Average Salary

Just as a nurse helps a doctor, a veterinary technician assists a vet with the care of animals. Tasks you’ll be asked to perform as a veterinary technician (or “vet tech”) range from collecting fluid samples to operating ultrasound and x-ray equipment to reassuring owners that Socks and Rover will be OK. Pets are an important part of their owners’ lives, and vets — along with their assistants — are in high demand across the country, with this industry growing faster than many others and job outlook looking good for the next several years.

But is being a vet tech worth the training? Most entry-level vet tech positions require at least a two-year associate’s degree, though some require even more education with a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Your options are limited if you want to go the bachelor’s degree route, as less than 20 schools currently offer programs. The cost of these schools, or even one of the shorter 2-year programs, which must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Associate, can be high. In addition, all states require vet techs to be registered, licensed, or certified. So, how much money can you expect to make as a vet tech?

As of May 2008, there were approximately 79,000 vet techs in the United States. According to the US Department of Labor, the mean annual salary was nearly $30,000, meaning that the mean hourly wage was just over $14 per hour. The top 25% make over $35,000 per year, and the top 10% make over $41,000. That’s not bad for a job that only requires a 2-year degree!

Of course, your salary will depend on where you live and how long you stay with one employer. The states with the highest salaries for vet techs were New York, Illinois, California, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia, as of 2008, with annual average salaries of between $34,720 and $35,200. If you live and work in a city, you can expect to make more annually as well. Top-paying cities for vet techs in 2008 were Fresno, Oakland/Fremont, and San Diego, all in California and with annual average salaries of over $40,000. If you want to move away from the west coast, high salaries are also found in Poughkeepsie/Newburgh/Middletown in New York and Jefferson City in Missouri.

Who employs you makes a difference as well. According to statistics, the top-paying employers for vet techs in 2008 were the federal government, medical and surgical animal hospitals, and research facilities. Vet techs are in high demand in other sectors as well, so you can also find work with animal social service originations, museums and other tourist attractions, and other animal facilities.

For most vet techs, the salary potential is well worth the cost of education. Keep in mind also that you can keep costs of your education low with scholarships and grants, and most people qualify for low-interest college loans, which are deferred until at least 6 months after your graduation to give you time to find a job.