Two nicknames for Arkansas (AR) are the “Natural State” and the “Land of Opportunity,” both fitting monikers when one considers the abundance of career opportunities for animal-lovers. In fact, the Humane Society of Pulaski County (HSPC) of central AR has expanded its shelter facilities, saving more than 50,000 animals to date. HSPC also helped author legislation in 1979 which banned the use of a decompression chamber for euthanasia, as well as the state’s Retail Pet Store Act of 1991, a law which criminalized inhumane conditions in those facilities. Additionally, the HSPC formed disaster response teams which rescued hundreds of displaced pets in the wake of Little Rock’s tornadoes of 1997 and 1999. This organization has clear goals for the next 60 years—including advancing “no kill” shelter policies, ending all inhumane euthanasia practices, and to establish a low cost spay & neuter facility in AR—and will continue to promote animal welfare into the future.
The HSPC is one organization which employs veterinary technicians in Arkansas, a field rapidly growing in the state and country at large. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016), a vet tech in AR is an individual who has earned a diploma from a program accredited by the AVMA and works under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. These animal healthcare professionals have a relatively generous scope of practice in the state, as the AVMA does not offer extensive regulations regarding the conduct of AR vet techs.
So what can vet techs in Arkansas expect to do? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016) provides a detailed examination of the job responsibilities in this field. Typically, veterinary technicians assist vets with common procedures (e.g., dental, surgical, radiological, anesthetic); restrain animals during the administration of medications or first aid; manage animal patient records; perform laboratory analyses on various sample types (e.g., blood, urine, tissue); maintain the cleanliness and sterilization of facilities; educate animal-owners about nutrition and proper care; and keep up-to-date on technological and medicinal advances in the field. The Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) adds that formal academic programs for vet techs started in the 1960s, whereas in the past, many of these professionals learned their skills on-the-job. Luckily for aspiring vet techs in AR, there is a wealth of accredited training options available, both online and on-campus.
Read on to discover the bright career outlook for vet techs in Arkansas, as well as to learn about various accredited programs and professional credentialing information.
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Arkansas State University-Beebe||1000 Iowa Street, Beebe, Arkansas, 72012-1000||No||Yes||12|
In Arkansas, there’s a growing pool of job openings in the field of veterinary technology. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) predicts that the number of positions in this field will increase 19 percent nationwide between 2014 and 2024. This is almost three times the average growth projected for all occupations during that time period (7 percent), adding 17,900 fresh vet tech positions around the country. And the swelling number of job openings is only part of the story.
These skilled professionals can seek employment in a range of facilities in AR and beyond, including veterinary hospitals, biomedical research facilities, specialty animal clinics (e.g., avian, equine, exotic, etc.), food inspection agencies, zoo & wildlife centers, parks, farms, shelters, kennels, aquariums, public policy organizations, and humane societies.
Indeed (2016) maintains active vet tech job postings in AR with opportunities at places such as All For Pets Veterinary Clinic, After Hour Animal Hospital, St. Francis Animal Clinic, Bowman, Road Animal Clinic, Banfield Pet Hospital, Southwest Animal Clinic, and Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals, Inc. Additionally, the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) has a careers page and advertises vet tech openings at facilities such as Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic, Vilonia Animal Clinic, Heritage College, Lake Hamilton Animal Hospital, Hot Springs Animal Hospital, Animal Medical Center, and Companions Spay & Neuter Clinic.
Finally, to enhance one’s salary or employment prospects, some AR vet techs invest their time in a specialty in order to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). To become a VTS, candidates typically need to seek certification through and organization such as the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians or the Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians. To qualify, vet techs must generally have at least 1,000 hours of experience in their specialty of choice, letters of recommendation from supervising veterinarians, and a passing score on a comprehensive examination. Other specialties include clinical practice, dentistry, veterinary nursing, internal medicine, dermatology, equine nursing, nutrition, and zoological medicine. To learn more about how to become a VTS, check out the vet tech careers page.
While vet tech salaries are a bit lower in Arkansas than national averages, it’s important to note that the cost of living is also substantially below average and therefore lower salaries come with more purchasing power in the Land of Opportunity. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) ranked AR tenth in the nation with respect to affordability. The state boasts particular savings in housing, healthcare, and transportation costs relative to the rest of the country.
So how much do veterinary technicians make across the country and in AR? First, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015), there are currently 95,790 vet techs employed in the US with an average salary of $33,280. In more detailed terms, they had the following salary percentiles nationwide:
By comparison, the 300 vet techs in AR had an annual average salary of $26,380 and the following percentile ranges (BLS May 2015):
In hourly terms, this equates to a national average of $16.00/hour and $12.68/hour in AR with these percentiles:
Additionally, these salary figures tended to vary based on region of Arkansas. Interestingly, the north AR nonmetropolitan area had the highest wages among its 40 vet techs. Here are the mean salaries, numbers of vet techs employed, and percentile estimates among the four BLS-designated regions of AR (BLS May 2015):
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO (100 vet techs employed): $25,870 annual average salary
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR (40 employed): $30,740 avg.
North Arkansas Nonmetropolitan Area (40 employed): $33,110 avg.
South Arkansas Nonmetropolitan Area (40 employed): $19,810 avg.
In hourly terms these regional salaries equate to:
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO (100 vet techs employed): $12.44/hour average
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR (40 employed): $14.78/hr. avg.
North Arkansas Nonmetropolitan Area (40 employed): $15.92/hr. avg.
South Arkansas Nonmetropolitan Area (40 employed): $9.53/hr. avg.
Finally, salary figures also tended to vary by source of data. Some companies rely on self-reported data or that which comes from human resource departments. In fact, Indeed (May 2016) found an average annual salary of $30,000 among AR vet techs. Payscale (May 2016)—which relies on self-reported salary data—found the following national hourly percentiles among the 3,152 responding vet techs:
|Veterinary Career||Arkansas Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
To qualify as a veterinary technician in Arkansas, a person must graduate from a two- to four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program-approval entity of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Read the last section of this article to learn more about the accreditation process.
The CVTEA-accredited programs across the country typically ask for the following from applicants:
Additionally, some schools require letters of recommendation, experience working with animals, candidate interviews, or test scores (e.g., TOEFL for non-native speakers of English).
In Arkansas, there are currently two AVMA-accredited vet tech programs: one at Heritage College and another at Arkansas State University at Beebe (ASUB).
Heritage College—a school with four locations across the country including one in Little Rock—offers an associate degree in veterinary technology. Boasting hands-on training in animal nutrition, dentistry, pharmacology, diagnostics, and lab methods, Heritage has extensive experience in getting vet techs the knowledge they need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the main national credentialing exam in this field.
Arkansas State University at Beebe (ASUB) offers an AVMA-accredited program to applicants with at least 20 hours of experience in a veterinary setting. This associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology involves 71 credits of courses such as anatomy & physiology; animal reproduction, nutrition & production; laboratory techniques; wild, zoo & lab animal care; radiology; and pathology. One measure of program effectiveness is the program graduate passing rate on the VTNE. Among ASUB veterinary technology graduates, 73.6 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015. Please note that many of the general education courses are offered online and may minimize the amount of time a person needs to spend on campus.
For some aspiring veterinary technicians and technologists, attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school can prove difficult due to familial or professional obligations. Luckily there are also nine AVMA-accredited online programs across the country, which involve a combination of web-based courses and clinical experiences at approved, local sites close to a student’s home. During the course of these programs, essential vet tech skills are acquired and typically signed off on “abilities checklists” by licensed veterinarians.
For students who are available for clinical experiences in nearby Alabama, the Jefferson State Community College of Birmingham offers an online associate degree in veterinary technology. Ideal for applicants who work 20 hours per week at a veterinary clinic, Jefferson provides online didactic instruction in the anatomy & physiology of mammals; vet tech emergency & first aid; clinical procedures & pathology; animal diseases & immunology; and anesthesia & diagnostic imaging. To qualify for this program, candidates must have at least 360 hours of practical experience in an animal healthcare setting and be available to interview at the Jefferson campus. Among Jefferson’s graduates, 51 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015. Cedar Valley College of Lancaster, TX provides an AVMA-accredited online associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. Core coursework includes units in surgical preparation; canine & feline clinical management; veterinary pharmacology; anesthesia & surgical assistance; radiology & ultrasound; and veterinary office management. An impressive 78 percent of Cedar Valley’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2011 and 2014. To learn more about the distance-based programs available, check out the online vet tech programs page.
To become a veterinary technician in Arkansas, a person must apply for certification through the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Examining Board by submitting the following:
To maintain active status as a certified veterinary technician (CVT), candidates must submit an annual renewal application with $25.00 and proof of having completed six hours of continuing education (CE). The renewal period begins each year on April 1 and ends March 31 of the following year. Finally, Arkansas allows students to complete two of the six required CE hours online. A variety of web-based CE opportunities are available through these services:
As mentioned in the discussion of AR vet tech schools, attending an accredited program is essential to qualify as a certified vet tech (CVT) in the state. The main accreditation body is a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA evaluates vet technology programs according to the following criteria:
Finally, the CVTEA is a programmatic accreditation body, but there are institutional accreditation bodies as well. Although the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Examining Board doesn’t have explicit recommendations regarding this type of accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the main regional body which approves schools as a whole in AR. To learn more about each of these types of accreditation, please visit the CVTEA accreditation standards and HLC websites.
|Vet Techs Must Be Licensed to Practice||Licensed Vet Techs Are Called||Licensing Requirements||Additional Resources|
|Graduate from an AVMA-Accredited Program||Pass the VTNE||Additional Requirements|
|Yes||CVT||Yes||Yes||Arkansas also asks for a notarized letter of recommendation from a licensed veterinarian in order to qualify for state vet tech certification.||Arkansas Veterinary Technician Association|