Despite the fact that the Aloha State is one of the smaller landmasses in the country, there’s a wealth of resources for people interested in animal welfare. In fact, the Hawaiian Humane Society provides a detailed quarterly newsletter and a list of groups across Oahu and beyond, including Equine 808, Hawaii Happy Cats, K-9 Kokoa, and Tails of Aloha. The HHS also received a $2 million gift from Ginny Tiu in 2016, a longtime animal-lover for whom a new animal rescue foundation will be named.
One way for Hawaiians to become involved in advocacy for furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures is to become a veterinary technician. The Hawaii Veterinary Technician Association (HVTA) is a non-profit which educates the public, facilitates relations between all personnel in vet offices, and provides advocacy for the profession. Impressively, Hawaii is 100 percent rabies-free and boasts strict laws about the importation of animals from the mainland. It’s important to note that this state is also one of the few which does not require vet techs to pursue licensure, registration, or certification. That said, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association (HVMA) reports that this may change in coming months. As of August 2016, a new bill calling for the credentialing in this profession is on the governor’s desk. Aspiring Hawaiian vet techs are advised to monitor the status of SB2671, which will likely require registration for vet techs as early as 2018.
With this in mind, how do residents of the Aloha State prepare for this career? As with other states, animal-loving Hawaiians are encouraged to graduate from a two-to-four year program in veterinary technology accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program-approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This may qualify a candidate to take the predominant national certification test in this field: the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
According to O*NET (2016), aspiring vet techs learn many skills in accredited college programs such as how to restrain animals during routine exams and vaccinations; maintain veterinary medical records; provide assistance for licensed veterinarians with common procedures (e.g., dentistry, surgery, radiology, anesthesia); monitor the status of animals; maintain the sterility of facilities and equipment; keep inventory of supplies; prepare and process laboratory samples; take vital signs of vet patients; and educate animal-owners about proper care. It’s important to note that the scope of practice in this profession varies by state, and Hawaii has relatively generous privileges of practice for vet techs. By illustration, the AVMA (2016) reports that there are no restrictions specified for the practice of veterinary technology in the state, and particularly in emergency conditions, these professionals may be able to provide a more advanced level of care than vet techs in more restrictive state practice environments.
Read on to discover the bright career outlook in veterinary technology in Hawaii, as well as to learn about the salary prospects, accredited vet tech programs, and upcoming credentialing procedures.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Hawaii
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Windward Community College||45-720 Keaahala Rd, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 96744-3598||No||Yes||7|
Job Outlook for Vet Techs in Hawaii
The job outlook in veterinary technology in the US is expected to be promising in the coming decade. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) reported that there’s expected to be a 19 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2014 and 2024, much more robust than the average growth predicted across all occupations during that time period (7 percent). This equates to 17,900 fresh positions in this field across the country.
There’s some evidence that the projected growth in vet tech opportunities may be slightly lower in Hawaii, but still well above the national average for all jobs. CareerOneStop (2016)—a data organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—reported that there’s expected to be a 16 percent increase in vet tech positions in HI between 2014 and 2024. Furthermore, it’s predicted to be the fifth fastest-growing occupation among associate degree graduates in the state.
Vet techs may seek employment at a variety of places including veterinary clinics, hospitals, farms, aquariums, humane centers, kennels, zoos, shelters, universities, rescue organizations, government regulatory institutions, laboratories, wildlife sanctuaries, and other environments. Some of these professionals work normal business hours, while others may be called upon to work weekends, evenings, or holidays, dictated by the needs of their veterinary patients and emergency conditions. Indeed (Aug. 2016) posted jobs at places such as Kahala Pet Hospital, Waipahu Waikele Pet Hospital and Koolau Animal Hospital, while iHireVeterinary (2016) had job openings at Haiku Veterinary Clinic and the Hawaiian Humane Society. In sum, there are ample opportunities for qualified vet techs across the Hawaiian islands.
Finally, some vet techs choose to specialize in a subfield of veterinary technology in order to enhance their employment or salary prospects. A qualifying candidate with specialized skills may become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016), there’s a wealth of academies and societies—some which provide specialized certification—in areas including dermatology, anesthesia, animal behavior, clinical pathology, nutrition, equine nursing, and zoological medicine. To qualify for specialized credentialing as a VTS, applicants typically need 1,000 hours of experience in their subfield, letters of recommendation, proper training, and a passing score on an exam. To learn in depth about the wealth of VTS options, visit the main vet tech careers page.
Hawaii Vet Tech Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015), there were 95,790 vet techs working across the country. In detailed terms, the BLS found the following salary average and percentiles among these animal healthcare professionals:
United States (95,790 working vet techs): $33,280 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
In hourly terms, these figures equate to:
United States: $16.00/hour average
- 10th percentile: $10.52/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.67/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $15.29/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.50/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.80/hr.
It’s worth noting that these figures vary by source of data. In fact, Payscale (Aug. 2016)—a site which aggregates self-reported salary data—found the following among the 327 American vet tech respondents:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
A majority of the vet tech respondents chose to report their salaries in hourly terms. Among the 3,152 vet techs in this category, Payscale (Aug. 2016) found the following percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.00/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $13.00/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16.00/hr.
- 90th percentile: $18.00/hr.
Interestingly, vet techs in Hawaii made slightly lower salaries than national averages. The BLS (May 2015) reported that there were 340 employed vet techs in the Aloha State with an annual average salary of $31,110. In more detailed terms, these Hawaiian animal healthcare specialists had the following percentiles:
Hawaii (340 working vet techs): $31,110 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,540
- 25th percentile: $26,720
- 50th percentile (median): $30,170
- 75th percentile: $35,850
- 90th percentile: $41,120
In hourly figures, these Hawaiian vet techs received an average of $14.96/hr. and the percentiles translate to:
- 10th percentile: $10.84/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.85/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.51/hr.
- 75th percentile: $17.23/hr.
- 90th percentile: $19.77/hr.
Not surprisingly, these figures also tended to vary by region of Hawaii. The BLS (May 2015) designates two regions in the state, and urban Honolulu boasted the highest salaries and highest employment in this profession:
Urban Honolulu, HI (280 vet techs employed): $31,080 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $21,740
- 25th percentile: $26,720
- 50th percentile (median): $30,170
- 75th percentile: $35,930
- 90th percentile: $41,600
Hawaii & Kauai Nonmetropolitan Area (unknown number employed): $30,670 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $21,860
- 25th percentile: $25,910
- 50th percentile (median): $30,740
- 75th percentile: $35,390
- 90th percentile: $38,180
In hourly terms, the BLS (May 2015) found the following among the two designated regions:
Urban Honolulu, HI: $14.94/hr. avg.
- 10th percentile: $10.45/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.84/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.50/hr.
- 75th percentile: $17.27/hr.
- 90th percentile: $20.00/hr.
Hawaii & Kauai Nonmetropolitan Area: $14.75/hr. avg.
- 10th percentile: $10.51/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.46/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.78/hr.
- 75th percentile: $17.01/hr.
- 90th percentile: $18.36/hr.
Finally, the salaries of vet techs also vary based on one’s level of experience in the profession. Although there isn’t any reliable data for Hawaiian vet techs due to the small sample size, Payscale (Aug. 2016) found the following figures which illustrate this trend:
- Entry-level: 1,845 vet techs (0-5 years experience): $26,000 average annual salary
- Mid-career: 1,171 vet techs (5-10 years): $31,000
- Experienced: 912 vet techs (10-20 years): $34,000
- Late-career: 227 vet techs (20+ years): $35,000
|Veterinary Career||Hawaii Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Hawaii
As mentioned in the introduction, aspiring vet techs in Hawaii are encouraged to seek out vet tech programs accredited Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Although there’s currently only one AVMA-accredited vet tech program in HI, this will likely change as the profession becomes increasingly regulated with the adoption of SB2671, which is expected to go into effect in 2018.
To qualify for an accredited vet tech program, applicants typically need to send their official high school transcripts; show proof of prerequisite coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, English, algebra, etc); offer copies of immunization records and/or health insurance; write a personal statement (500-600 words); and pay an application fee. Although test scores such as the SAT or ACT are not generally required, candidates whose second language is English may be required to submit TOEFL scores. Additionally, applicants may find it advantageous to have experience working with animals.
The sole CVTEA-accredited program in Hawaii is available at Windward Community College of Kaneohe, which provides an associate of science (AS) program in veterinary technology. This program has classes such as introduction to anesthesia & dentistry; exotic & laboratory animal procedures; applied pharmacology; clinical lab techniques; anesthesia & surgical nursing techniques; and a Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) review course. This program costs $2,680 for Hawaiian residents, and $8,470 for non-residents. Impressively, 78.9 percent of Windward’s vet tech program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015.
Online Vet Tech Programs in Hawaii
Luckily for residents of the Aloha State, there are also eight CVTEA-accredited, distance-based vet tech programs. These programs typically involve a combination of rigorous online coursework and clinical intensives to be completed at qualifying animal healthcare facilities under near a student’s home. Hawaiians seeking this option are advised to ensure that there aren’t any “state authorization” restrictions (i.e., laws which limit the ability of certain states to provide online education to students residing in other states).
One standout online vet tech program is available through Penn Foster College, which is based in Scottsdale, AZ and offers an associate degree in veterinary technology. Students learn the fundamentals of the discipline with courses such as animal anatomy & physiology; veterinary office management & skill with people; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; medical mathematics; clinical pathology; clinical parasitology; radiography; and small & large animal medicine. Between 2013 and 2016, 67.75 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
The prestigious Purdue University also provides a part-time, distance-based associate program in veterinary technology. This online associate of applied science (AAS) comprises 35 classes such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacy procedures, diagnostic imaging, animal agriculture, small animal nursing, microbiology for vet techs, and management topics, as well as 17 corresponding clinical mentorships. This program typically takes five years to complete. Notably, 79 percent of the distance-based program graduates between 2012 and 2015 passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
To discover the array of programs with web-based coursework, check out the online veterinary technology schools page.
Registration for Vet Techs in Hawaii
As mentioned above, there are currently no regulations stipulating the need to pursue credentialing for Hawaii vet techs (Aug. 2016). The Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association (HVMA) reports: “Currently, a license is not required to practice veterinary technology in Hawaii. The HVMA and HVTA are working together to establish legislative recognition for veterinary technicians in our state.”
That said, this will likely change in the coming two years with the adoption of SB2671, which will likely require registration for vet techs as early as 2018. To prepare for this transition, aspiring vet techs in this state are urged to enroll in two-to-four year veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Not only will this likely be a requirement for future registration of vet techs, but it will also prepare program graduates to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the predominant certification exam in this career field.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
The main programmatic accreditation organization for vet tech schools nationwide is the aforementioned Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVTEA evaluates a number of factors in its program-approval process, including:
- Organizational effectiveness
- Quality of facilities & program staff
- School & program finance management
- Availability of libraries & student resources
- Admissions criteria
- Curriculum comprehensiveness
- Student outcomes (e.g., graduate VTNE pass-rates)
To examine the full criteria for vet tech program approval, 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||N/A||No||No||Hawaii does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified, licensed, or registered. At least two years of education in a vet tech program is generally a requirement for most employers. Taking the VTNE upon graduation may still be advisable for those candidates interested in being employable in other states.||Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association|