For aspiring veterinary technicians in the Keystone State, the future looks very bright indeed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2014), there are currently 4,210 vet techs employed in Pennsylvania, making it one the top five employing states nationally. Philadelphia, aptly called the “City of Brotherly Love,” appears to extend its kindness to other members of the animal kingdom. It’s one of the highest employing metropolitan areas for these animal care specialists in the U.S. at 1,760. Furthermore, vet techs were paid an average annual salary of $34,720 in Pennsylvania, significantly higher than the national average ($32,350).
Not only is Pennsylvania one of the highest employing states with a higher-than-average annual wage, but the career prospects for this profession both in this state and nationally are predicted to grow considerably. The BLS (2014) reports that openings for vet techs and technologists are expected to swell 30% nationally between 2012 and 2022, much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations (11%).
So how does an animal-lover in the Quaker State become involved in this career on the rise? Although vet techs must become certified by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association prior to practice, there are a number of accredited veterinary technician schools in PA to prepare aspiring animal healthcare professionals for all of the steps involved.
How to Become a Vet Tech in PA
Here are the typical steps to become a veterinary technician in Pennsylvania:
- Pass prerequisite classes in high school. To gain admittance to an accredited program in Pennsylvania, aspiring vet techs typically must have taken algebra I/II, biology, and chemistry. Some programs also recommend classes in physics, calculus, or statistics to enhance a student’s candidacy.
- Graduate from an accredited vet tech program in Pennsylvania (2-4 years). In order to become eligible for this profession, vet techs must complete a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These programs can last from 18 months to four years, generally resulting in an associate of science (A.S.), an associate of applied science (A.A.S.), or a bachelor’s degree (B.A.) after completing all requirements. The O*NET (2013)—a partner of the American Job Center—reports that a majority of vet techs nationally hold associate degrees (68%). In these programs, Pennsylvania students may take classes such as veterinary clinical pathology, surgery, radiology procedures, and exotic animal nutrition, in addition to completing clinical practicums.
- Take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). In order to be eligible in this state, one must have passed with a score of at least 425.
- Become certified with the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine (a few weeks). To become a vet tech in this state, these prospective healthcare professionals must get certified. There is no special state test or jurisprudence exam in Pennsylvania, but students must complete an application in addition to sending their VTNE exam scores. For those licensed in other states, they can apply for a vet tech certification endorsement with a letter of good standing from their current licensing entity.
- Maintain certification (every two years). Students are expected to maintain their certification from the Pennsylvania State Board. The certifications expire two years and candidates are eligible for recertificationfollowing the completion of 16 hours of continued education.
Therefore certified veterinary technicians in Pennsylvania can expect to complete two to five years of postsecondary work, depending on degree attained, VTNE testing schedule, and application submission method (online or paper-based).
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Pennsylvania
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Vet Tech Institute||125 Seventh St, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15222-3400||No||Yes||122|
|Great Lakes Institute of Technology||5100 Peach Street, Erie, Pennsylvania, 16509-2482||No||No||43|
|Harcum College||750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 19010-3470||No||Yes||37|
|Lancaster County Career and Technology Center (Vet Assisting)||1730 Hans Herr Dr, Willow Street, Pennsylvania, 17584||No||No||28|
|Manor College||700 Fox Chase Rd, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 19046-3399||No||Yes||27|
|Johnson College||3427 N Main Ave, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18508-1495||No||Yes||25|
|Wilson College||1015 Philadelphia Ave, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 17201-1285||No||Yes||23|
|Northampton County Area Community College||3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18020-7599||No||No||15|
|Lehigh Carbon Community College||4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, 18078-2598||No||Yes||10|
Strong Outlook for Vet Tech Jobs in PA
There are strong job prospects for veterinary technicians both in the Pennsylvania and nationally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2014) estimates that there will be a 30% increase in openings for these professionals between 2012 and 2022, much more robust than the 11% growth projected for all occupations. With these 25,000 added jobs anticipated nationally, many of them in Pennsylvania, becoming a vet tech can be a wise career choice.
The BLS (2014) reported that there are 4,210 vet techs in Pennsylvania that make an average annual salary of $34,720, higher than the average national salary for these workers at $32,350. Here is the salary data in this state:
- 10th percentile – $24,130
- 50th percentile (median) – $33,060
- 90th percentile – $47,590
These salary data in the Coal State are $2,740, $1,990, and $1,880 higher than the national figures, respectively. Given that vet tech school in Pennsylvania typically costs only a fraction of the expected annual salary for these professionals, this investment can pay off.
Additionally, some areas in Pennsylvania pay more than others. Here’s a list of the top-paying zones for vet techs in PA with their average annual salaries (BLS 2013):
- Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division – $39,120
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – $36,750
- Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA – $34,730
- Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA – $34,090
- Northeastern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – $33,450
Pennsylvania is also one of the top-employing states in the nation. The following areas within the state have the most jobs:
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – 2,480 employed
- Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division – 1,760
- Pittsburgh, PA – 890
- Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ – 180
- Northeastern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – 160
As the Northeastern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area is one of the top five paying and employing areas of the state, employment outlook in that area may be especially favorable.
In addition to the BLS, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) can be a valuable resource in staying abreast of issues in the community and industry at large.
|Veterinary Career||Pennsylvania Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2014)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Finding Accredited Vet Tech Schools in PA
There are a number of quality vet tech schools in Pennsylvania. In order to become eligible for practice, candidates must graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Accreditation ensures that schools are meeting standards of quality, including instruction, curriculum, clinical opportunities, and student outcomes. Prior to enrolling in a program, all prospective veterinary technicians in PA are advised to check the AVMA status of their programs.
Here is a sampling of quality, AVMA-accredited programs in PA:
- Harcum College, located in Bryn Mawr, offers students an associate of science (A.S.) degree program in veterinary technology. In addition to taking courses such as anatomy & physiology of domestic animals, pharmacology/anesthesia, and advanced nursing skills, students have the opportunity to gain clinical experience at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. This program typically takes six semesters to complete both the didactic and clinical practicum requirements.
- The Vet Tech Institute, with locations in seven cities across the country, is another popular veterinary technician school in PA. Taking only 18 months to complete and conveniently located in Pittsburgh, this program prepares students to sit for the veterinary technician national exam (VTNE) with classes such as animal technology, radiography, and large animal theory. It boasts a 73% passing rate on the VTNE among graduates of the past three years.
- Manor College is another esteemed vet tech program in PA, accredited by the AMVA since 1992, and boasting a beautiful 35-acre campus and 50-acre farm. The campus offers hands-on labs in surgery, large and small animals, radiology, and more. Most notably, the clinical sections are relatively small with only six to nine students to guarantee adequate individual instruction. The college is only a short distance from Philadelphia and offers a two-year associate of science (A.S.) degree to graduates after coursework in subjects such as breeds & behavior, laboratory animal science, and hematology.
- Wilson College in Philadelphia is another one of the available vet tech schools in PA. This women’s college offers a four-year bachelor’s of science degree (B.S.) in veterinary technology. This program has two concentrations for students depending on their career aspirations: veterinary biology or veterinary business management. Both specializations offer core courses in parasitology, animal management, and a veterinary internship. While the B.S. programs take more time to complete than those at the associate level, they can offer students more advanced instruction and may enhance one’s career prospects and chances of passing the VTNE.
Program Accreditation and Professional Certification for Vet Techs in PA
Prospective veterinary technicians in Pennsylvania must seek out programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) which gauges institutional quality in the following areas:
- Library and resources
- Outcomes assessment
Graduating from an AVMA-approved program makes students eligible to sit for the the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE), one of the requirements to become a certified veterinary technician in the state of PA.
According to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, vet techs must be certified in order to practice in this state. Before becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT), prospective vet techs must have graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, completed an application, and passed the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE) with a score of at least 425. There is no state certification or jurisprudence exam required. Additionally, this certification must be renewed every two years with 16 hours of continued education. There is a downloadable PDF of the application available from the State Board for Veterinary Medicine.
Overall, with high employment and salary prospects in the state of Pennsylvania, becoming a veterinary technician can be a promising career choice for animal-lovers.
|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||CVT||Yes||Yes||Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association|