For animal-lovers in the Garden State seeking a fast-tracked veterinary career, there is a wealth of veterinary technician (vet tech) schools in New Jersey (NJ). While becoming a licensed veterinarian can require eight years of postsecondary education and additional time in residency, joining an animal healthcare clinic as an entry-level vet tech typically only requires a two-year associate degree. Furthermore, in New Jersey, these professionals are given more clinical independence than vet techs in many other states. To illustrate, NJ does not require vet tech professional licensure and offers a more generous scope of practice, not specifying any restrictions on duties in the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) regional chart. By comparison, a majority of US states require licensure and detail what vet techs are permitted to do.
Although professional licensure is not necessary for NJ vet techs, it can be advisable to enhance one’s career prospects. The predominant credentialing agency is the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians & Assistants (NJVTA) which provides many resources in addition to vet tech certification, including continuing education (CE) opportunities, professional development events, and networking. Founded as a non-profit in 1972, NJVTA strives to ensure that its members uphold the Veterinary Technician’s Oath:
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.
So how does a resident of NJ become a vet tech? And what types of responsibilities do they have? In order to join this high-growth occupation, a citizen of NJ typically takes a number of steps, outlined below.
While professional certification is not required to practice as a veterinary technician in New Jersey, it is required in many other states. And since professional certification typically requires graduating from an AVMA-accredited program and passing the VTNE, both steps merit serious consideration, especially for those who may wish to practice in other states. Also, many employers require candidates to have earned at least a two-year degree, so skipping that step may impact employability.
According to the extensive skills checklist of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs are tasked with many responsibilities such as collecting laboratory samples; performing medical tests under the supervision of licensed veterinarian; helping to diagnose illnesses and conditions; providing first aid and monitoring the stability of animals in medical recovery; restraining animals during examinations; assisting with diagnostic imaging, anesthesia, surgery, and dentistry procedures; and administering treatments. Veterinary technicians generally have two-year degrees, whereas veterinary technologists have four-year degrees and more in-depth training. Finally, some vet techs choose to specialize in fields such as zoology, nutrition, equine medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, animal behavior, emergency care, clinical pathology, and more.
Read on to discover the job outlook for vet techs in NJ, as well as the range of accredited programs and detailed information about professional certification.
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Camden County College||200 College Drive, Blackwood, New Jersey, 8012||No||Yes||22|
|Bergen Community College||400 Paramus Rd, Paramus, New Jersey, 07652-1595||No||Yes||19|
For New Jersey residents and beyond, there’s excellent news for aspiring veterinary technicians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) anticipates that openings in this profession will swell 19 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the growth rate expected of all occupations during that time period (7 percent). That equates to a projected addition of 17,900 vet tech jobs nationally. Also, the average annual salary for vet techs in NJ ($34,340) is higher than the national average at $32,350 (BLS 2014).
Here is a granular look at the annual salary ranges for vet techs nationwide (BLS 2014):
For comparison, Payscale (2016)—an aggregator of self-reported salary data in common occupations—found the following similar salary percentiles among its 327 responding vet techs:
By contrast, the 2,570 vet techs in New Jersey generally enjoyed higher salary ranges (BLS 2014):
It’s no surprise that these percentiles also tend to vary by region of NJ. In fact, the “New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division” is one of the top-employing and top-paying areas for veterinary technicians in the nation. It employs 1,980 of these animal healthcare professionals and pays an average annual salary of $42,580. Here is a detailed look at the salary ranges for vet techs across the seven designated regions of NJ (BLS 2014):
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ: 90 vet techs employed
Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division: 440 vet techs employed
Edison-New Brunswick, NJ Metropolitan Division: 850 vet techs employed
Newark-Union, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division: 540 vet techs employed
Ocean City, NJ: 70 vet techs employed
Trenton-Ewing, NJ: 90 vet techs employed
Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ: (number of vet techs unknown)
It’s important to note that while vet techs in New Jersey are better compensated than in other states, the cost of living is also higher than the national average. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that NJ ranked forty-second among all American states with respect to affordability, marked by especially steep housing costs relative to the rest of the nation.
Veterinary technicians can seek employment in a variety of environments including animal hospitals, clinics, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, animal products manufacturers, race tracks, zoos, aquariums, farms, livestock yards, animal sanctuaries, universities, and more. Additionally, the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians & Assistants, Inc. (NJVTA) provides an active job postings page detailing opportunities for vet techs around the state at locations such as Branchburg Animal Hospital, North Star Vets, Greater Staten Island Veterinary Services, Winslow Animal Hospital, Barnside Veterinary Service, and Freehold Animal Hospital. Lastly, while some vet techs work regular business hours, due to the nature of animal healthcare, they may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, and holidays as needed.
|Veterinary Career||New Jersey Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2014)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
There are many quality veterinary technician programs in New Jersey, including associate, bachelor’s, and even distance-based options. Admissions committees typically call for official secondary school transcripts; the completion of specific high school coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, algebra, English); TOEFL test scores (for non-native speakers of English); proof of immunizations and health insurance; and an application fee. Additionally, some programs ask candidates to have “observation hours” at a veterinary clinic prior to enrollment.
In the state of New Jersey, there are two campus-based programs accredited through the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the primary accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country. For more information on accreditation, please reference the section below.
Bergen Community College in Paramus provides a CVTEA-accredited associate degree in veterinary technology, instructing its students in the fundamentals through hands-on clinical experiences and training in animal handling, surgical nursing, anesthesia, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory procedures. Furthermore, a remarkable 88.3 percent of Bergen’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first try between 2011 and 2014.
Camden County College of Blackwood offers a CVTEA-accredited associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology degree. This program involves a rigorous combination of 300 hours of practical clinical education and classes such as animal biology, small animal nursing, principles of animal husbandry, and parasitology. Sixty-six percent of Camden’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015.
In addition to the accredited on-campus programs in NJ, there are currently nine CVTEA-accredited, online vet tech programs across the US. One distance-based option is available through Penn Foster’s associate degree program, giving advanced instruction in the the administration of anesthesia, the collection and recording of case histories, animal anatomy & physiology, emergency first aid, and preparing animals for treatments & surgery. With a dedicated faculty and externships through Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals, Penn Foster’s program is also one of the most affordable at only $79 per credit. Between 2011 and 2014, 75.5 percent of its graduates passed the VTNE on the first attempt.
St. Petersburg College in Florida provides several online programs in veterinary technology including an associate of science (AS) and a bachelor of science (BS). The 73-credit AS program offers classes such as medical terminology, animal nursing, animal anatomy, exotic pet medicine, and pharmacology. The 120-credit online BS program—offered to applicants who already have associate degrees—provides three specializations: advanced clinical applications, veterinary hospital management, and combined clinical & hospital management. Both programs require students to work or volunteer for 20 hours weekly in a veterinary facility located close to their homes. Distance-based programs begin in August, January, and May each year. Additionally, St. Petersburg offers a certificate in veterinary practice management. Boasting an $11 million state-of-the-art veterinary technology facility, a 75 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2012 and 2015, and several scholarships for students, St. Petersburg College can provide a solid foundation in vet tech skills at the convenience of students.
For more information on distance-based programs, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.
As mentioned in the introduction, professional certification, licensure, or registration is not currently mandatory for veterinary technicians in New Jersey. That said, it can be advisable to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)—for several reasons. First, it’s a prerequisite to licensure for nearly all American states and mandatory for practice in neighboring areas such as New York. Second, it can enhance an aspiring vet tech’s job candidacy and salary prospects.
The New Jersey Veterinary Technicians & Assistants, Inc. (NJVTA) offers professional certification to applicants who have completed an application; submitted proof of having completed a two- to four-year, CVTEA-accredited veterinary technology program; passed the VTNE; and paid a credentialing fee. Credentials must be renewed every two years in January following the completion of 20 hours of continuing education (CE), including approved conferences, courses, events, and other relevant activities.
In order to qualify for licensure, certification, or registration as a veterinary technician in most states, students must have graduated from a two- to four-year program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—the program approval body established by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—which is the main accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country. The CVTEA takes several aspects into consideration in its program accreditation process such as comprehensiveness of curricula, student outcomes, quality of facilities, availability of student support services, program finances, and admissions processes. Finally, Purdue University provides an extensive list of AVMA-mandated vet tech skills which must be included as part of the curricula in any approved program.
|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||New Jersey does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified with the New Jersey Veterinary Technician Association (NJVTA). 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.||New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association|