In the Show-Me State, there’s a widespread consciousness concerning the wellbeing of animals. The Humane Society of Missouri is one of the most active in the country, hosting a gamut of fundraising events, volunteering opportunities, and animal education seminars for people of all ages. On the 2016 summer calendar, some of the fun-filled (and creative) functions include PAWS for Reading, Extreme Makeover: Shelter Pet Style, Veterinary Scientists: Race for a Cure!, Kids for Critters Camp, May the Furry Force Be With You!, and Hoofbeat Hoedown at the Ranch.
One relatively quick way for animal-lovers in MO to put their passion for animal advocacy to action is to become a veterinary technician (vet tech). A majority of these veterinary professionals hold two-year (rather than four-year) degrees. O*NET (2016)—an affiliate of the US Department of Labor—reported that 68 percent of vet techs nationwide hold associate degrees. Furthermore, there’s a supportive climate for these workers in MO. The Missouri Veterinary Technicians Association (MVTA) was created in 1974 and its mission is “to represent, promote and advance the field of veterinary technology through education, legislation and by providing superior animal care.” In addition to a scholarship program for vet tech students, the MVTA also has job-related tips, continuing education (CE) opportunities, and a volunteer board for entities such as the Feral Cat Clinic of St. Peters.
According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016), these animal healthcare workers have a range of responsibilities such as helping licensed veterinarians with procedures (e.g., dental, radiological, anesthetic, surgical); taking and testing laboratory samples; maintaining vet patient records and pharmaceutical inventories; providing basic first aid to animals; keeping facilities and equipment sterile; and educating pet-owners on all aspects of proper animal care. Additionally, the scope of practice in this profession varies by state. In Missouri, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) reports that registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) can perform several procedures under the direct supervision of a vet including applying casts and inserting catheters. According to this state’s relatively generous laws of veterinary practice, MO vet techs may also give emergency treatment to animals “gratuitously and in good faith” and will not be liable for damages.
This article discusses the high demand for veterinary technicians in MO, as well as their salary prospects, accredited college programs, and how to become registered in this profession.
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Hickey College||940 Westport Plaza, Saint Louis, Missouri, 63146||No||Yes||70|
|Jefferson College||1000 Viking Drive, Hillsboro, Missouri, 63050-2440||No||Yes||22|
|Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City||3200 Broadway, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111-2429||No||Yes||21|
|Midwest Institute||964 South Highway Drive, Fenton, Missouri, 63026||No||Yes||18|
|Crowder College||601 Laclede Ave, Neosho, Missouri, 64850||No||Yes||14|
|Brown Mackie College-St Louis||2 Soccer Park Rd, Fenton, Missouri, 63026||No||Yes||3|
For Missouri residents interested in a career in animal healthcare, there’s excellent news: this is a high-growth professional field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015), there will be an anticipated 19 percent increase in job openings between 2014 and 2024 for veterinary technicians nationwide, a figure that’s nearly three times the average growth expected across all occupations in that time period (7 percent). Also, in its most recent projections, CareerOneStop (2014)—an affiliate of the US Department of Labor—adds that vet techs occupy the seventh fastest growing career in MO for people with associate degrees.
Veterinary technicians in MO can seek employment in many environments including veterinary hospitals, clinics, farms, zoos, animal rescue centers, government regulatory agencies, biomedical research labs, universities, specialty clinics (e.g., avian, equine), aquariums, animal control facilities, shelters, kennels, and wildlife centers. While some vet techs in MO work typical business hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, holidays, or weekends to serve the needs of their veterinary patients, particularly those seeking emergency treatment or recovering from surgery.
iHireVeterinary (July 2016) posted opportunities for MO vet techs at places such as Biomune Company, Washington University, the Humane Society of Missouri, and Banfield Pet Hospitals. Indeed (July 2016) had additional openings at Union Hill Animal Hospital, Midwest Institute, Animal Emergency Clinic (O’Fallon), Crossroads Veterinary Hospitals, St. Louis Veterinary Center, Emergency Veterinary Clinic of SW Missouri, Manchester West Veterinary Hospital, Bryan Road Animal Hospital, Columbia Pet Hospital, and VCA Antech, Inc. In sum, there’s no shortage of employment opportunities in this state.
Finally, some MO vet techs choose to become veterinary technician specialists (VTS) to enhance their career opportunities. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016) recognizes several academies which offer professional certification across subfields of veterinary technology such as anesthesia & analgesia, animal behavior, clinical pathology, dentistry, equine nursing, emergency & critical care, nutrition, internal medicine, and zoological medicine. To become a VTS, candidates typically need to have at least 1,000 hours of experience in a specialized discipline and pass a comprehensive exam. To learn in detail how to become a VTS, check out the vet tech careers page.
For Missouri veterinary technicians, there is excellent news regarding salaries: although MO is one of the cheapest states in which to live, salaries for MO vet techs are higher than the national average. To illustrate, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that MO is the eleventh most affordable state in the US, boasting savings especially in housing and transportation. And while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported an annual average salary of $33,280 for the 95,790 vet techs across the country, the 1,340 working vet techs in MO had an annual average salary of $36,140, or 8.6 percent higher than the national average.
In more detailed terms, here were the salary percentiles for all vet techs in the US (BLS May 2015):
United States (95,790 working vet techs): $33,280 annual average salary
In hourly terms, these figures equated to:
United States: $16.00/hour average
For comparison, vet techs in Missouri enjoyed the following salary percentiles (BLS May 2015):
Missouri (1,340 working vet techs): $36,140 annual average salary
And the hourly figures:
Missouri: $17.38/hour average
Interestingly, these figures tended to vary based on source of data as well. In fact, Indeed (May 2016) found an average annual salary of $29,000 among MO veterinary technicians, and Payscale’s national figures also differed from the BLS. By illustration, Payscale (July 2016)—a site which relies on self-reported data—found the following salary percentiles among its 327 responding vet techs nationally:
There were actually more American vet techs who responded with hourly salaries. For the 3,152 vet techs in this category, Payscale (July 2016) found these percentile ranges:
Finally, the salaries for vet techs also tended to vary by region of Missouri with the metropolitan regions of St. Joseph and St. Louis having the highest salaries in this field. Here were the wage averages, numbers of vet techs working, and salary percentiles among the six BLS-designated regions in MO (BLS May 2015):
Cape Girardeau, MO-IL (60 vet techs employed): $20,770 annual average salary
Columbia, MO (100 employed): $31,800 avg.
Kansas City, MO-KS (410 employed): $34,580 avg.
St. Joseph, MO-KS (unknown number employed): $37,330 avg.
St. Louis, MO-IL (770 employed): $36,630 avg.
Springfield, MO (unknown number employed): $28,250 avg.
|Veterinary Career||Missouri Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
As mentioned in the introduction, 68 percent of vet techs nationwide hold associate degrees (O*NET 2016). In Missouri, it is advisable to seek out a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA is the gold standard in vet tech program accreditation, and while graduating from one of these programs isn’t mandatory to qualify for professional registration in the state, the board has the sole authority to decide whether or not a non-AVMA program qualifies one for credentialing. To learn more about how programs are accredited, please visit the final section of this article.
To get into an AVMA-accredited program, MO applicants typically must send the following to admissions committees:
Some schools may also require documented experience working in an animal healthcare setting, letters of recommendation, test scores, or a background check.
Luckily for aspiring vet techs in Missouri, there were six CVTEA-accredited programs as of July 2016. Among them is a specialized associate degree in veterinary technology from Hickey College of St. Louis. Hickey’s Vet Tech Institute provides instruction in anesthesia, animal anatomy & physiology, clinical medicine, radiography, veterinary pharmacology, veterinary office procedures, and clinical practicums to put skills to the test. Additionally, this school has a special preparation course for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the main credentialing exam in this occupation. In fact, one measure of a program’s effectiveness is the first-time passing rate on the VTNE among graduates. Between 2012 and 2015, 78 percent of Hickey’s graduates passed the exam on their first attempt. The Metropolitan Community College of Kansas City (MCCKC) offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology at its Maple Woods campus. MCCKC has had AVMA accreditation since 1975 and hosts clinical experiences with 12 distinct animal species in its competitive program. Classes include veterinary practice management, clinical mathematics, principles of animal science, sanitation & animal care, and laboratory animal technology. Impressively, 90 percent of MCCKC’s graduates between 2012 and 2015 passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Crowder College of Neosho also has an accredited AAS program in veterinary technology. With coursework in microbiology, radiology & electronic procedures, farm animal health, and large animal medicine, Crowder imparts the fundamentals of the discipline to its students. Notably, 94 percent of this program’s graduates between 2012 and 2015 passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
While some prospective veterinary technicians may prefer the more traditional brick-and-mortar experience of a college program, others with time commitments or who live in rural regions may not have easy access to an on-campus program. Fortunately there are also eight CVTEA-accredited online programs in veterinary technology. These typically combine rigorous web-based coursework and in-person clinical practicums to be completed at a facility close to a student’s home. As skills are acquired, a supervisor—generally a licensed veterinarian—signs off on a student’s capabilities. The Colby Community College of Kansas provides an online associate program in veterinary technology which involves classes such veterinary immunology, parasitology, pharmacology, hematology, imaging, clinical chemistry, large animal clinical procedures, and veterinary cytology. In order for a preceptor to qualify for the clinical portion of a student’s training, it must have at least one licensed veterinarian on staff who is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Among on-campus graduates at Colby, 64 percent of students passed the VTNE exam on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015. Please note that students must complete several prerequisite courses to qualify (e.g., biology), a list of which is available on Colby’s website. Another option is the online associate in science (AS) available at St. Petersburg College of Florida. Courses include small animal breeds & behavior, animal physiology, animal nursing, anesthesia, veterinary medical terminology, animal emergency medicine, large animal diseases, and avian & exotic pet medicine. Notably, 75 percent of on-campus program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015.
To learn more about the distance-based programs in veterinary technology, please visit the main online vet tech programs page.
In the Show-Me State, veterinary technicians must be registered prior to practice. The main credentialing authority is the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board which requires the following from candidates for vet tech registration:
Finally, to maintain active status as a registered veterinary technician (RVT), candidates must renew their registration annually by November 30th following the completion of at least five hours of continuing education (CE). In addition to qualifying in-person events, seminars, and conferences, there are online CE opportunities available at:
As mentioned in the discussion of programs, the gold standard for vet tech program accreditation in MO and nationwide the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA evaluates several factors in its program-approval process, including:
To learn more about the veterinary technician program accreditation process, please visit the CVTEA accreditation standards page.
|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||No||Yes||Applicants are required to pass the Missouri State Board Examination with a score of at least 70% and submit an employment verification form from a licensed veterinarian.|