Question: What’s the state dog of Massachusetts?
Answer: Not surprisingly, the Boston terrier—a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier—was designated as the official state dog in 1979.
Speaking of pets, the Codfish State has some of strictest regulations regarding the possession of animals in the country. In an attempt to protect both the public and wildlife populations, the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs reports that there are three categories of animals for prospective pet-owners: domestic animals, wild animals which require a MassWildlife permit, and wild animals which do not. The only animals which may be taken from the wild as pets are certain species of reptiles and amphibians such as American bullfrogs, milk snakes, snapping turtles, and eastern red-backed salamanders. Many other animals—including some sold at pet stores in neighboring states—cannot legally become personal pets.
Given these extensive regulations, it makes sense that veterinary technicians in Massachusetts also operate under the scrutiny of state laws. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) outlines some regional restrictions on the scope of practice in this profession. In the Bay State, vet techs can administer controlled substances (e.g., anesthetics) only under the immediate supervision of a veterinarian. Additionally, MA vet techs must have direct supervision while bandaging wounds; polishing teeth; placing catheters; and taking diagnostic images. These animal healthcare technicians can perform some duties without supervision such as bandaging in emergencies; drawing blood samples; and processing laboratory samples.
So more generally, what do veterinary technicians do? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016) reports that they have a number of responsibilities including helping licensed vets with typical dental, surgical, laboratory, and diagnostic procedures; giving basic medical treatment to animals; educating pet-owners about proper care; keeping inventory of equipment and medications; sterilizing instruments and rooms; restraining animals during routine examinations; and monitoring animals’ health status.
As of March 2016, the proposed Veterinary Technician Licensure Bill has not yet passed through the state congress. Co-written by the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA) and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), the bill—HB.246—would make professional licensure in this occupation mandatory for practice. Be sure to check the status of this legislation prior to seeking a pathway to this career. Currently, there is optional certification for vet techs in the Old Colony State available through the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA).
Read on to discover the career outlook for vet techs in MA, as well as to learn about accredited programs and professional certification.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Massachusetts
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Becker College||61 Sever St, Worcester, Massachusetts, 01609-2165||No||Yes||57|
|Mount Ida College||777 Dedham Street, Newton, Massachusetts, 2459||No||Yes||35|
|North Shore Community College||1 Ferncroft Rd, Danvers, Massachusetts, 01923-0840||No||Yes||18|
|Holyoke Community College||303 Homestead Ave, Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1040||No||Yes||12|
|Berkshire Community College||1350 West Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 01201-5786||No||No||2|
Job Outlook for Vet Techs in MA
In Massachusetts and across the country, the employment outlook for veterinary technicians is bright. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) anticipates a 19 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2014 and 2024, much more robust growth than what’s predicted for all occupations during that time (7 percent). With 17,900 fresh vet tech positions expected in the coming decade nationwide, there should be ample opportunities for animal-lovers seeking to break into this career.
Furthermore, the outlook for residents of Massachusetts—one of the highest paying states for vet techs—is especially promising. By illustration, the BLS (2015) reports that vet techs had an annual average salary of $33,280 nationwide, whereas the 2,790 vet techs in MA reported a mean salary of $42,020, making it the second highest paying state in this field. While this 26.3 percent higher average salary seems almost too good to be true, it’s important to note that the cost of living in Massachusetts is also significantly higher than many others. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that MA is the seventh most expensive state in which to live, experiencing especially especially steep housing costs relative to the rest of the country. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the salary data within this region.
On more granular terms, the BLS (2015) found the following salary percentiles for the 95,790 vet techs working across the country:
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
By comparison, the 2,790 vet techs in MA enjoyed much higher salary prospects at all levels:
- 10th percentile: $30,350
- 25th percentile: $34,230
- 50th percentile (median): $40,300
- 75th percentile: $48,660
- 90th percentile: $58,330
Additionally, these figures tended to vary by region within MA. The Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton area enjoyed the highest salaries in the state. Here is a detailed examination of the salary prospects for vet techs within the 14 designated regions of MA (BLS 2015):
Barnstable Town, MA: 70 vet techs employed ($41,200 annual average salary)
- 10th percentile: $31,760
- 25th percentile: $35,660
- 50th percentile (median): $41,540
- 75th percentile: $46,940
- 90th percentile: $50,600
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: 1,950 employed ($42,860 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $29,710
- 25th percentile: $34,440
- 50th percentile (median): $41,840
- 75th percentile: $50,200
- 90th percentile: $59,320
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division: 1,130 employed ($46,750 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $32,500
- 25th percentile: $37,790
- 50th percentile (median): $46,220
- 75th percentile: $55,360
- 90th percentile: $61,750
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, MA NECTA Division: unknown number employed ($46,670 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $34,770
- 25th percentile: $39,810
- 50th percentile (median): $46,540
- 75th percentile: $54,230
- 90th percentile: $60,610
Framingham, MA NECTA Division: 140 employed ($39,570 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $31,670
- 25th percentile: $34,680
- 50th percentile (median): $39,530
- 75th percentile: $45,060
- 90th percentile: $48,680
Haverhill-Newburyport-Amesbury Town, MA-NH NECTA Division: 90 employed ($35,080 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $25,780
- 25th percentile: $29,930
- 50th percentile (median): $35,270
- 75th percentile: $39,940
- 90th percentile: $45,910
Lawrence-Methuen Town-Salem, MA-NH NECTA Division: 60 employed ($34,690 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $25,480
- 25th percentile: $30,850
- 50th percentile (median): $34,890
- 75th percentile: $38,900
- 90th percentile: $45,460
Leominster-Gardner, MA: 70 employed ($40,480 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $27,930
- 25th percentile: $32,580
- 50th percentile (median): $38,190
- 75th percentile: $47,150
- 90th percentile: $57,780
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division: 130 employed ($38,930 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $29,650
- 25th percentile: $33,460
- 50th percentile (median): $37,570
- 75th percentile: $44,490
- 90th percentile: $52,510
Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead, MA NECTA Division: 30 employed ($40,990 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $32,130
- 25th percentile: $34,600
- 50th percentile (median): $38,710
- 75th percentile: $47,220
- 90th percentile: $54,980
New Bedford, MA: 60 employed (unknown avg.)
- 10th percentile: estimate not released
- 25th percentile: estimate not released
- 50th percentile (median): estimate not released
- 75th percentile: estimate not released
- 90th percentile: estimate not released
Peabody-Salem-Beverly, MA NECTA Division: 80 employed ($34,150 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $26,190
- 25th percentile: $29,060
- 50th percentile (median): $33,290
- 75th percentile: $38,010
- 90th percentile: $45,190
Springfield, MA-CT: 260 employed ($36,280 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $25,940
- 25th percentile: $30,710
- 50th percentile (median): $35,800
- 75th percentile: $42,250
- 90th percentile: $47,910
Worcester, MA-CT: 430 employed ($41,470 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $31,890
- 25th percentile: $34,500
- 50th percentile (median): $38,830
- 75th percentile: $46,790
- 90th percentile: $55,860
Veterinary technicians in MA can seek employment in a range of environments including veterinary hospitals, clinics, farms, stables, research facilities, zoos, aquariums, universities, kennels, animal sanctuaries, and other facilities. Some vet techs may work normal business hours, whereas others may be called upon to provide veterinary healthcare services on weekends, evenings, or holidays.
The Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA) provides several services for people in this field such as continuing education (CE) opportunities, job postings, and professional networking.
Finally, there are a number of specialties for vet techs designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016). Some vet techs may choose to pursue these specialized skills and credentials in order to enhance their employment prospects and earning potential. Some of the popular subfields include anesthesia & analgesia, animal behavior, clinical pathology, dermatology, critical care, internal medicine, surgery, zoological animals, nutrition, and more.
To learn more about these specialties and how to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), please check out the main page on veterinary technicians.
|Veterinary Career||Massachusetts Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Schools in MA
For prospective vet techs in Massachusetts, there is a wealth of programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the predominant accrediting body for vet tech programs nationwide. Graduating from a CVTEA-accredited program is a prerequisite to credentialing in most states in the US. Also, according to O*NET (2016)—a data organization and affiliate of the US Department of Labor—68 percent of its vet tech respondents nationwide held associate degrees, the most common entry point for this occupation.
Admissions committees for two- to four-year vet tech programs typically call for official high school transcripts with proof of specific coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, English); test scores from the SAT or ACT, and the TOEFL (for non-native speakers of English only); a background check; a personal statement; proof of immunizations and health insurance; and an application fee. Some students may also be asked for a candidate interview or letters of recommendation, and it may behoove vet tech program applicants to have some hands-on experience working with animals as well.
In addition to general education requirements, typical courses in these programs include introduction to veterinary technology, medical terminology, parasitology, pharmacology, microbiology, ethics, surgical nursing, clinical laboratory procedures, veterinary nutrition, diagnostic imaging, exotic animal medicine, reproduction in domestic animals, veterinary anesthesia, hematology, and internships.
There are currently four CVTEA-accredited on-campus programs in MA. For example, the North Shore Community College of Danvers offers a two-year associate of science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology with classes such as canine & feline behavior, medical terminology, veterinary parasitology, and surgical nursing & anesthesia. Impressively, North Shore boasts an 84.6 percent first-time passing rate on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) among its graduates between 2012 and 2015. Holyoke Community College also has a CVTEA-accredited AAS program to impart the fundamentals of the field such as how to handle animal patients, administer medications, collect and process laboratory samples, and carefully document records. Courses at Holyoke include veterinary practice management, animal diseases, animal nursing, vet laboratory procedures, exotic pets, and veterinary radiology. Another option is Becker College of Leicester, which provides an AAS program in veterinary technology. Its graduates have gone on to jobs not only in veterinary clinical settings, but also in public health organizations, zoos, and pharmaceutical companies. Courses in this 66-credit program include anatomy & physiology of domestic animals, laboratory animal science, clinical pathology, and farm animal skills. Sixty-eight percent of the Becker program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015. Finally, Mount Ida College similarly offers an associate degree for veterinary technicians, as well as a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. In the bachelor’s degree program—ideal for aspiring veterinary technologists who may have higher salaries than technicians—students have the unique experience of six professional internships to garner hands-on experience in locations such as specialty practices, biotech companies, and wildlife preserves. Courses in this competitive program include clinical procedures, microbiology, pharmacology, and research methods. Also, 74 percent of Mount Ida’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015.
Online Vet Tech Programs
For some students with time- or distance-based restrictions, attending an on-campus program can be difficult. Luckily there are currently nine CVTEA-accredited online programs in veterinary technology. These programs typically involve a rigorous combination of online coursework and a clinical mentorship which can be completed close to a student’s home. It’s important to note that Massachusetts has relatively strict regulations with respect to online education, and some programs acknowledge in “state authorization” disclosures that they’re unable to provide their program to MA-based students. Prospective students are encouraged to verify with program administrators that MA residents are eligible prior to applying.
One CVTEA-accredited online program is offered through the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which requires three visits to the Loudoun campus per semester. This program—ideal for veterinary assistants working at least 20 hours weekly who want to advance their skills—includes general education classes and vet tech fundamentals such as animal diseases, clinical pathology, and wildlife medicine. Between 2012 and 2015, an impressive 88 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
For more information on web-based programs for vet techs, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.
Vet Tech Certification in MA
As of March 2016, professional credentialing is not necessary to practice as a vet tech in MA. That said, there are some advantages to being certified in MA. It can not only enhance one’s employment prospects within MA, but can also set up a vet tech for licensure, registration, or certification should he or she choose to relocate to another state.
Here are the typical steps to becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Massachusetts:
- Graduate from high school.
- Enroll in a two- to four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
- Apply for certification through the Massachusetts Veterinary Technicians Association (MVTA).
To qualify for certification through the MVTA, candidates must submit an application, pass the VTNE with a score of at least 425, send in an official transcript from a CVTEA-accredited program in veterinary technology (or proof of at least eight years of fulltime experience), and pay a $50 application fee. Please note that for candidates without CVTEA-accredited degrees and extensive experience, there is some flexibility.
These certifications are valid for one year and can be renewed following the completion of 12 continuing education units (CEUs). The MVTA provides a list of approved continuing education (CE) resources such as:
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned previously, those seeking a program in veterinary technology in Massachusetts are encouraged to pursue programs approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. The CVTEA evaluates several factors in its program-approval process such as institutional accreditation, curricula, admissions processes, student outcomes assessments, quality of physical facilities, and program finances. For a detailed look at the criteria, please visit the CVTEA standards of accreditation in its website.
|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||Massachusetts does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified with the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA). 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.||Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association|