In the Pelican State, people take animal welfare seriously, particularly when it’s the hurricane season. In fact, the Louisiana SPCA (June 2016) urges the state’s citizens to incorporate their pets into their disaster evacuation plans, ensuring that their animal’s vaccinations and identification tags are current, as well as packing extra food and supplies. The organization plans a wealth of charity events throughout the year—including Dine Out 4 Paws, Jazzi Sunday Brunch, Frisky Felines Friday, and the Patriotic Pooches Walk—to raise money for various pet-loving causes. Additionally, the LA SPCA holds courses and seminars on topics such as pet first aid & CPR, humane law enforcement, and dealing with feral cats. For Bayou State residents interested in promoting the wellbeing of furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures, becoming a veterinary technician is one possible career path.
So what do vet techs in LA do? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA June 2016), vet techs fulfill an invaluable role in animal healthcare, taking on responsibilities such as assisting vets with common procedures (e.g., vaccinations, surgeries, dental cleanings, radiographic images); holding down animals during routine examinations; maintaining veterinary health records; keeping inventories of pharmaceuticals and other supplies; performing basic laboratory tests; and educating pet-owners about proper care. Depending on a vet tech’s training, they may also specialize in certain types of procedures (e.g., taking diagnostic images, animal dentistry, critical care) or animal populations (e.g., avian, equine, exotic animals). The AVMA (2016) adds that the scope of practice in this profession varies by state. In LA, a registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) have a board-issued credential and may perform the following procedures without direct supervision of a veterinarian: giving medications, taking impressions, teeth floating, developing dental diagnostic images, and taking records of dental pathologies. For a full list of the restrictions on scope of practice, please consult the AVMA’s chart or the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine Practice Act.
Read on to learn about the bright career prospects for vet techs in LA, what to expect from an accredited vet tech program, and how to register as a vet tech in the state.
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Delgado Community College||615 City Park Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70119||No||Yes||13|
|Northwestern State University of Louisiana||University Parkway, Natchitoches, Louisiana, 71497-0002||No||Yes||5|
|Northshore Technical Community College||1710 Sullivan Dr, Bogalusa, Louisiana, 70427||No||Yes||5|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) reports that there will be 17,900 new jobs for vet techs nationwide between 2014 and 2024. This projected 19 percent increase is nearly three times the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that same decade (7 percent). Furthermore, according to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2014)—a data group partnered with the US Department of Labor—veterinary technicians and technologists occupy the fourth fastest growing career in Louisiana for people with associate degrees. Between 2012 and 2022, CareerOneStop anticipates a 33 percent increase in veterinary technology jobs in LA.
While many vet techs in the Creole State work in veterinary clinics and hospitals, they’re also employed by farms, aquariums, biomedical research labs, animal sanctuaries, zoos, kennels, humane societies, universities, pet stores, public policy organizations, and more. Some of these animal healthcare professionals work typical business hours, while others may be called upon to work nights, holidays, or weekends, depending on the needs of their patients.
In addition to iHireVeterinary—a job hunting site specializing in animal healthcare— Indeed (June 2016) boasts employment opportunities for vet techs at places such as Louisiana State University (LSU), MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets, Prytania Veterinary Hospital, Banfield Pet Hospital, Lakeview Veterinary Hospital, Tulane University, Lakeshore Veterinary Hospital & Pet Lodge, Metairie Small Animal Hospital, Louisiana SPCA, and AllStar Animal Clinic.
Additionally, some LA vet techs choose to specialize their skills and become veterinary technician specialists (VTS). The National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA 2016) reports that there’s an abundance of professional credentialing societies and academies in areas such as dentistry, dermatology, critical care, zoological medicine, nutrition, avian medicine, equine nursing, and animal behavior, to name a few. In order to become credentialed, candidates typically need to have documented experience in their subfield, proof of specialized education, and a passing score on an exam. To learn more about how to become a VTS, please check out the vet tech career page.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that there were 95,790 vet techs working across the country with an annual average salary of $33,280 or $16.00/hr. In more detail, the BLS (May 2015) found the following salary percentiles among vet techs nationwide:
In hourly terms, these figures equated to:
Interestingly, these national figures tended to vary by source of of data as well. Payscale (June 2016)—a site which relies on self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its 327 responding vet techs:
Even more veterinary technicians reported hourly salaries, and Payscale (June 2016) found the following hourly percentiles among 3,152 vet tech respondents around the country:
While the BLS found somewhat lower figures for vet techs in LA, it’s important to note that the cost of living in LA is also substantially lower than most states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) ranked LA nineteenth nationally for affordability. Residents of the Creole State enjoy savings particularly in housing and utilities relative to the rest of the nation. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the following salary figures.
The BLS (May 2015) reported that there were 1,370 vet techs working in LA with an average annual salary of $27,270 or $13.11/hr. In greater detail, here are the salary figures among LA vet techs:
Not surprisingly, these figures tended to vary by region of LA as well with the New Orleans-Metairie region vet techs garnering the highest salaries. Here were the numbers of vet techs working and salary percentiles among the seven BLS-designated regions of Louisiana (BLS May 2015):
Alexandria, LA: (40 vet techs employed): $25,870 annual average salary
Baton Rouge, LA: (unknown number employed): $23,450 avg.
Lafayette, LA: (100 employed): $25,700 avg.
Lake Charles, LA: (100 employed): $25,130 avg.
New Orleans-Metairie, LA: (720 employed): $23,450 avg.
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA: (unknown number employed): $24,650 avg.
Central Louisiana nonmetropolitan area: (40 employed): $24,950 avg.
|Veterinary Career||Louisiana Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
In order to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in LA, candidates typically graduate from a two- to four-year program in veterinary technology accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) main approval body for educational programs. In order to gain entry, LA applicants typically must submit the following:
Please note that some programs call for letters of recommendation, experience working in an animal healthcare setting, test scores, measures of physical fitness (e.g., being able to lift 50 lbs.), or additional course prerequisites such as animal health careers.
There are four CVTEA-accredited programs in LA. Delgado Community College of New Orleans provides an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. This program features a combination of hands-on clinical practicums and courses such as animal anatomy & physiology, animal nursing skills, clinical pathology, pharmacology for veterinary technicians, veterinary office procedures & management, anesthesia, small animal medicine, and surgical nursing. One measure of program effectiveness is the first-time passing rate among graduates on the predominant credentialing exam for vet techs: the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). At Delgado, fully 74 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015. The Baton Rouge Community College also offers a five-semester AAS in veterinary technology with classes such as animal nursing skills, general microbiology, exotic animal medicine, trends in veterinary technology, animal breeds & behavior, and imaging for veterinary technicians. Between 2013 and 2015, 64 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Another accredited program is available at Northwestern State University of Natchitoches, which provides both an associate degree program and a bachelor of science (BS) in biology with a concentration in veterinary technology. Between 2012 and 2015, 51.5 percent of Northwestern State’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
For students living in more rural regions of LA or who have time commitments preventing them from attending an on-campus program, there are nine CVTEA-accredited online programs. These programs involve a combination of online coursework and clinical trainings at approved local sites close to students’ homes. For example, Jefferson State Community College of nearby Alabama offers an online associate program in veterinary technology with classes such as animal diseases & immunology, animal nutrition of laboratory animals, animal pharmacology & toxicology, vet microbiology & parasitology, and anesthesia & diagnostic imaging. Among program graduates between 2012 and 2015, 51 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Please note that clinicals must be completed at in Alabama, and therefore this program may be ideal for LA residents who live close to the state border. A more flexible online vet tech associate program is available Penn Foster College, a vibrant distance-based college boasting affordable tuition ($79 per credit), renowned faculty, and individualized attention. With clinical components of the program available at Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals nationwide, Penn Foster offers didactic classes online such as veterinary office management & skill with people, medical nursing for veterinary technicians, small & large animal medicine, anesthesia, pharmacology, surgical nursing, and clinical parasitology. Finally, a respectable 75.5 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2011 and 2014.
To discover other distance-based opportunities in veterinary technology, please visit the online vet tech programs page.
For Louisiana residents interested in becoming vet techs, seeking out an accredited educational program is essential. Not only is graduating from an accredited program a prerequisite to becoming a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in the state, but it also can ensure a baseline of quality in terms of instruction, program resources, and student outcomes. Aspiring vet techs are encouraged to find programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program-approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVTEA weighs several factors in its accreditation process such as:
To learn in depth about each of these factors, please check out the main CVTEA accreditation page.
In order to practice as a veterinary technician in LA, candidates must first register with the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine (LBVM). The LBVM calls for the following in its registration process:
Finally, to maintain active registration, LA vet techs must renew their credentials annually and complete 10 hours of continuing education (CE), five of which can be completed online. There is a wealth of organizations which offer web-based CE opportunities, including:
|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||RVT||Yes||Yes||Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association|