The outlook is bright for animal-lovers in the lovely Centennial State. By illustration, Durango—a quaint town in the southwestern corner of Colorado—not only boasts countless scenic hiking trails, dog-friendly businesses, and an annual Mutt ‘n Strut for charity, but there are also public art installations throughout the community which pay homage to people’s favorite furry friends. For those seeking a career in animal healthcare, there is a wealth of accredited vet tech schools in Colorado.
The Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT)—the largest association of its kind in the nation at nearly 3,000 members—reports on the common path to join this career in the state. Certified veterinary technicians (CVTs) typically graduate from a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Next, they must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). Finally, aspiring vet techs must apply for certification through CACVT and maintain their credential by fulfilling continuing education (CE) requirements.
So what do veterinary technicians do? O*NET (2016)—a data organization allied with the US Department of Labor—reports that vet techs maintain animal medical records; assist veterinarians with medical treatments, dental care, diagnostic imaging, or surgeries; keep inventory of supplies; liaise with pet-owners about proper care; process laboratory samples to diagnose conditions; and monitor the medical status of veterinary patients. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) outlines state-based laws on the scope of practice for vet techs. In CO, vet techs can perform the duties of vet medicine under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, and indirect supervision may be appropriate in limited circumstances. For surgeries and dental procedures, immediate oversight is necessary.
Also, some of these animal healthcare professionals choose to specialize in order to deepen their knowledge, enhance their job candidacy, and even increase their pay grade. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) provides a list of designated specialties in this field, including anaesthesia & analgesia, behavior, clinical pathology, dermatology, dentistry, equine nursing, nutrition, internal medicine, surgery, zoological medicine, rehabilitation, and critical care.
Finally, the CACVT includes the CVT oath on its website:
I solemnly dedicate myself to aiding animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, by alleviating animal suffering, and by promoting public health. I accept my obligations to practice my profession conscientiously and with sensitivity, adhering to the profession’s Code of Ethics, and furthering my knowledge and competence through a commitment to lifelong learning.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Colorado
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology||1681 S Dayton St, Denver, Colorado, 80247||No||Yes||299|
|Pima Medical Institute-Colorado Springs||3770 Citadel Drive North, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80909||No||Yes||199|
|Front Range Community College||3645 W 112th Ave, Westminster, Colorado, 80031||No||Yes||62|
|Pima Medical Institute-Denver||7475 Dakin St Suite 100, Denver, Colorado, 80221||No||Yes||52|
|Community College of Denver||1111 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, Colorado, 80204-2026||No||Yes||27|
|Pickens Technical College||500 Airport Blvd, Aurora, Colorado, 80011-9307||No||No||24|
|Colorado Mountain College||802 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, Colorado, 81601-0233||No||Yes||17|
|Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology||2766 Janitell Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80906-4944||No||Yes||4|
Job Outlook for Vet Techs in Colorado
In Colorado and nationwide, job openings for veterinary technicians are poised to explode in coming years. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) projects that vet tech positions will swell 19 percent nationwide between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the expected growth of all occupations during that time (7 percent). And this anticipated addition of 17,900 vet tech jobs nationally is only part of the story. CareerOneStop (2014)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—found that among jobs with an associate degree as the typical entry-level education, veterinary technology is expected to be the eighth fastest growing occupation in the country between 2012 and 2022. In Colorado, it’s projected to be the fourth fastest with an astounding 43 percent projected increase in job openings (CareerOneStop 2014).
So how much do vet techs make nationwide and specifically in CO? Here is a comparative look at the annual salary percentiles for vet techs across the country (BLS 2014):
- 10th percentile: $21,390
- 25th percentile: $25,740
- 50th percentile (median): $31,070
- 75th percentile: $37,590
- 90th percentile: $45,710
Payscale (2016)—a collector of self-reported wages in common occupations—found similar salary ranges among its 327 responding vet techs:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
By comparison, the 2,910 vet techs employed in Colorado reported the following salary percentiles (BLS 2014):
- 10th percentile: $21,280
- 25th percentile: $25,790
- 50th percentile (median): $30,440
- 75th percentile: $35,870
- 90th percentile: $39,640
These figures tended to vary based on region as well. Interestingly, the north-central nonmetropolitan area reported the highest salary ranges among vet techs in the state. In alphabetical order, here are the salary data among the nine designated regions of CO (BLS 2014):
Boulder, CO: 260 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $17,700
- 25th percentile: $20,580
- 50th percentile (median): $29,660
- 75th percentile: $35,060
- 90th percentile: $38,220
Colorado Springs, CO: 260 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $24,610
- 25th percentile: $27,510
- 50th percentile (median): $32,170
- 75th percentile: $36,450
- 90th percentile: $39,170
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO: 1,550 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $24,260
- 25th percentile: $27,140
- 50th percentile (median): $31,400
- 75th percentile: $36,490
- 90th percentile: $41,350
Fort Collins-Loveland, CO: 390 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $20,500
- 25th percentile: $22,070
- 50th percentile (median): $25,850
- 75th percentile: $33,300
- 90th percentile: $38,650
Grand Junction, CO: 70 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $21,760
- 25th percentile: $25,030
- 50th percentile (median): $28,050
- 75th percentile: $31,160
- 90th percentile: $35,930
Greeley, CO: 70 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $25,450
- 25th percentile: $27,030
- 50th percentile (median): $29,660
- 75th percentile: $34,140
- 90th percentile: $38,540
Pueblo, CO: 60 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $17,400
- 25th percentile: $18,530
- 50th percentile (median): $21,430
- 75th percentile: $25,810
- 90th percentile: $31,300
West Colorado nonmetropolitan area: 140 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $20,830
- 25th percentile: $23,930
- 50th percentile (median): $27,420
- 75th percentile: $30,960
- 90th percentile: $38,120
Northcentral Colorado nonmetropolitan area: 80 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $31,840
- 25th percentile: $33,670
- 50th percentile (median): $36,710
- 75th percentile: $40,260
- 90th percentile: $46,060
It’s crucial to note that while wages for vet techs in CO are slightly lower than national averages, this state has a different cost of living than many of the higher paying regions. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that Colorado ranks twenty-ninth nationally with respect to affordability, boasting particular savings in grocery and utility costs relative to the rest of the country.
Not surprisingly, salaries also vary substantially with experience. Here are the median annual salaries of veterinary technicians according to different experience levels (Payscale 2016):
- Entry-level (0-5 years): $26,000
- Mid-career (5-10 years): $31,000
- Experienced (10-20 years): $34,000
- Late-career (20+ years): $35,000
Vet techs in Colorado can seek employment not only at animal hospitals and clinics, but also in zoos, aquariums, farms, research laboratories, shelters, kennels, and universities. These professionals generally have an associate degree prior to practice, and may work irregular hours (e.g., weekends, holidays, evenings) to serve the needs of veterinary patients. The Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT) maintains an active job post board with opportunities at facilities such as the Franktown Animal Clinic, Mandalay Animal Hospital, Mountain Perks Veterinary Hospital, PetAid Colorado, Loveland Veterinary Clinic, the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital, and more. Additionally, the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has an online career center with continually updated opportunities in veterinary technology and assisting.
|Veterinary Career||Colorado Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2014)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Accredited Vet Tech Degree Programs in Colorado
Aspiring veterinary technicians in CO are encouraged to enroll in a two- to four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the predominant program accreditation body nationwide. For more information about program accreditation, please reference the section below.
Colorado vet tech schools typically require applicants to send their official high school transcripts with proof of specific coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, algebra, English); submit test scores from the SAT, ACT, or TOEFL (for non-native speakers of English); show proof of immunizations and health insurance; pass a background check; write a personal statement; and pay an application fee. Some of the more competitive programs also ask for a candidate interview or experience in a veterinary setting as a volunteer or intern.
There are currently seven CVTEA-accredited programs in Colorado. The prestigious Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology in Denver offers a 125-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. With classes such as veterinary medical chemistry, technical writing, and anesthesiology, Bel-Rea prepares its graduates to handle animals, assist with surgeries, and perform common laboratory & diagnostic procedures. In the last quarter of the program, students are placed in local internships to round out their didactic coursework with hands-on experience. Between 2012 and 2015, 79.7 percent of this program’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt.
The Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology in Colorado Springs also provides a CVTEA-accredited associate of applied science degree (AAS) in veterinary technology. This school’s curriculum includes medical mathematics, biochemistry, parasitology, pharmacology, and diagnostic imaging. The Colorado Academy has an impressive 91 percent job placement rate among its graduates.
Another option is the Colorado Mountain College of the lovely Glenwood Springs. This AAS program has coursework in clinical pathology, microbiology, animal handling & restraint, and veterinary clinic management. Additionally, the school has a gorgeous 220-acre campus in the Elk Mountains with a 2,600 square-foot veterinary hospital, state-of-the-art equipment, and a range of animals. An incredible 93.3 percent of this program’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015. This school also has the country’s only certification in animal shelter management.
Front Range Community College (FRCC) has four locations in CO and offers an AAS in veterinary technology with classes such as radiology, physiology, medical & surgical nursing, and exotic animal handling. FRCC reports an 89 percent first-time VTNE passing rate among its graduates between 2012 and 2015. In addition to the vet tech associate degree program, this school also offers vet tech certificates in basic laboratory animal care (12 credits) or veterinary technician assistance (17 credits).
For aspiring vet techs in CO with familial, professional, or other types of time commitments, attending an on-campus program can be difficult. Luckily there are also nine CVTEA-accredited, distance-based vet tech programs. Students typically complete their coursework online and fulfill clinical requirements at veterinary clinics or similar facilities conveniently close to their homes. For example, San Juan College based in New Mexico provides a CVTEA-approved, online associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. Students take classes such as vet nursing care, vet business procedures, and diagnostic imaging, putting their skills to the test at approved off-campus clinical instruction (OCCI) sites. Classes begin in January, May, and August annually.
For more information on distance-based programs for vet techs, please check out the online veterinary technician programs page.
Certification for Vet Techs in Colorado
As mentioned in the introduction, the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT) is the main professional credentialing agency for vet techs in CO. In order to qualify as a certified vet tech (CVT), candidates must graduate from a CVTEA-accredited program; pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE); and pay an application fee. This certification lasts for two years and must be renewed following the completion of 20 continuing education (CE) hours. Since renewals occur only in even-numbered years, the number of CE hours required for the the first recertification may vary depending on when a CVT became certified initially (CACVT 2016). The CACVT accepts technical CE, supportive CE, and online CE approved by the Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE).
Vet Tech School Accreditation
The main programmatic accreditation body for vet tech programs in CO is the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a subdivision of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). CVTEA weighs several factors in its program-approval process, including institutional accreditation, physical facilities & equipment, resources for clinical instruction, admissions processes, student outcomes, and comprehensiveness of curricula. For a detailed examination of how programs are evaluated, please check out the CVTEA site.
|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|
|No||CVT||Yes||Yes||Candidates must also submit a copy of their diploma. It’s important to note that the State Board of Veterinary Medicine in Colorado does not license vet techs. Therefore the certification is not essential for practice, but some employers may prefer CVTs.||Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians|