The Palmetto State—also known as the “Pawmetto” State to animal-lovers—provides a wealth of organizations committed to furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures. The non-profit Animal Protection League of South Carolina (APLSC) was founded in 1982 and offers fundraising activities (e.g., auctions, rummage sales) and a weekly Adopt-a-Pet event each Saturday to connect pets with loving homes. Pawmetto Lifeline of Columbia, South Carolina (SC) rescues animals and advocates a “no kill” shelter policy. Despite the abundant services advancing the cause, there’s still a lot of work to be done in SC. In Richland and Lexington counties, more than 16,000 dogs and cats are brought to municipal shelters and 10,000 of those are euthanized. This 62.5 percent rate is much higher than the national euthanasia rate (23 percent). Furthermore, ABC News (May 2016) reported that more than 70 dogs and cats were taken from a notorious Colleton County animal-hoarder and the owner now faces up to $10,000 in fines.
One way to become involved in promoting animal wellbeing is to become a veterinary technician. Interestingly, South Carolina has relatively strict laws regarding the scope of practice in this profession. In its regional chart, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) defines a vet tech in SC as a person who has received a degree in animal health technology from an AVMA-accredited program and has received licensure to practice in the state. Vet techs in SC must have immediate supervision from a licensed veterinarian while providing surgical assistance and floating horse teeth. They must have direct supervision while administering anesthesia, vaccines, or euthanasia; undertaking common dental procedures; giving blood transfusions; doing basic first aid (e.g., applying splints); or performing catheterizations. SC vet techs can perform some duties under indirect supervision, including giving medication or parenteral fluid; performing diagnostic imaging; collecting blood or urine; preparing tissue samples; doing basic laboratory tests; and managing the handling of hazardous wastes. Finally, under emergency conditions when a licensed vet may not be present, vet techs can perform several duties with indirect or phone supervision such as applying tourniquets, temporary splints, or bandages; and resuscitating animal patients. In addition to these responsibilities, vet techs in SC can also expect to restrain animals during common procedures; maintain veterinary medical records; monitor the health status of animal patients; manage animal clinic offices and drug inventories; keep surgical and examination rooms sterile; and educate animal-owners on proper care.
Keep reading to learn about the bright job outlook for vet techs nationwide and in SC, as well as to discover accredited vet tech programs and how to become professionally licensed.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in South Carolina
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Greenville Technical College||738 S Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, South Carolina, 29607-2418||No||No||39|
|Trident Technical College||7000 Rivers Avenue, Charleston, South Carolina, 29423-8067||No||Yes||16|
|Tri-County Technical College||7900 U.S. Hwy 76, Pendleton, South Carolina, 29670||No||Yes||13|
|Piedmont Technical College||620 North Emerald Road, Greenwood, South Carolina, 29646||No||Yes||8|
Demand for Vet Techs in South Carolina
Without a doubt, South Carolina is currently a hot state for vet tech job openings. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) projected that opportunities nationwide for vet techs will increase 19 percent between 2014 and 2024. This figure is much higher than the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that period (7 percent). In SC, these prospects look even brighter. According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2014)—a data organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—the veterinary technology profession is the fifth fastest growing job among people with associate degrees in SC. In fact, between 2012 and 2022, CareerOneStop predicted a 31 percent explosion in vet tech openings across the state.
Where Do Vet Techs in SC Work?
South Carolina’s veterinary technicians are employed in a wide range of facilities such as veterinary hospitals, specialty animal clinics (e.g., behavioral, surgical, zoological, etc.), kennels, farms, research organizations, public policy groups, labs, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, universities, state and federal regulatory agencies, food inspection groups, and aquariums. Some SC vet techs work regular business hours—particularly if they’re involved in lab work or diagnostics—whereas others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays to monitor the health of their animal patients.
One standout option for the job hunt in SC is iHireVeterinary, which has active vet tech postings at places such as the Charleston Veterinary Referral Center, Southside Animal Hospital, Aiken Veterinary Clinic, Banfield Pet Hospital, Wateree Animal Hospital, Animal Eye Care of the Low Country, Midlands Veterinary Practice, Heritage Animal Hospital LLC, and VCA Animal Hospitals.
Additionally, some vet techs in SC may find it advantageous to specialize and become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). This process not only enhances a person’s skills in one particular field—areas such as behavior, surgery, clinical practice, pathology, dentistry, radiology, zoological medicine, etc.—but also can enhance one’s resume and salary prospects. To learn more about how to become a VTS, visit the veterinary technician careers page.
South Carolina Vet Tech Salary Data
While the veterinary technician salaries in South Carolina are somewhat lower than national averages, the cost of living in Palmetto State is also lower than most. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that SC ranked twenty-third with respect to affordability, boasting particular savings in transportation and housing relative to the rest of the country. Please keep this in mind while examining the salary overviews.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported an annual average salary of $33,280 among the 95,790 vet techs across the country. In more detailed terms, American vet techs had the following salary percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
When converted to hourly terms, vet techs across the country earned an average of $16.00/hour and had these percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.52/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.67/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $15.29/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.50/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.80/hr.
By comparison, the 1,490 vet techs working in SC had an annual average salary of $29,940 and these percentile ranges (BLS 2015):
- 10th percentile: $20,750
- 25th percentile: $24,100
- 50th percentile (median): $29,230
- 75th percentile: $35,710
- 90th percentile: $40,710
In hourly terms, the SC vet techs made an average of $14.39/hour with these ranges:
- 10th percentile: $9.98/hr.
- 25th percentile: $11.59/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.05/hr.
- 75th percentile: $17.17/hr.
- 90th percentile: $19.57/hr.
Not surprisingly, these figures also tended to vary my region of SC. In fact, the 420 vet techs in the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin area had very similar salaries to the national averages. Here’s an in-depth look at the number of vet techs working, the average annual salaries, and wage percentiles for vet techs in the six BLS-designated regions of SC (BLS 2015):
Charleston-North Charleston, SC (460 vet techs employed): $31,160 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $22,060
- 25th percentile: $26,320
- 50th percentile (median): $32,140
- 75th percentile: $36,440
- 90th percentile: $38,920
Columbia, SC (unknown number employed): $27,320 avg.
- 10th percentile: $18,770
- 25th percentile: $24,600
- 50th percentile (median): $27,660
- 75th percentile: $30,660
- 90th percentile: $36,100
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC (420 employed): $32,500 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,060
- 25th percentile: $24,300
- 50th percentile (median): $31,100
- 75th percentile: $41,600
- 90th percentile: $46,940
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC (60 employed): $24,870 avg.
- 10th percentile: $20,470
- 25th percentile: $21,780
- 50th percentile (median): $23,950
- 75th percentile: $27,720
- 90th percentile: $30,680
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC (100 employed): $27,150 avg.
- 10th percentile: $20,620
- 25th percentile: $22,700
- 50th percentile (median): $26,660
- 75th percentile: $31,220
- 90th percentile: $36,200
Spartanburg, SC (unknown number employed): $27,490 avg.
- 10th percentile: $20,590
- 25th percentile: $23,370
- 50th percentile (median): $27,390
- 75th percentile: $31,430
- 90th percentile: $36,210
Lastly, these salary figures tend to vary not only with experience, education, and employer, but also by source of data. In fact, Indeed (May 2016) found an annual average salary of $29,000 among SC vet techs, while Payscale (2016)—a site which relies on self-reported data—had an average wage of $13.68/hr. for vet techs across the country. The slight discrepancies in the figures from various sources may stem from the nature of self-reported data or other factors beyond the scope of this article.
|Veterinary Career||South Carolina Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Finding Accredited Vet Tech Schools in South Carolina
While veterinary technicians and assistants used to learn many of their skills on the job in the past, it is now more common for these animal healthcare professionals to seek out a formal two- to four-year program and professional licensure. According to O*NET (2016)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—68 percent of vet techs nationwide hold associate degrees. Most importantly, becoming professionally licensed and graduating from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is mandatory prior to practice in this occupation in SC. To learn more about program accreditation and professional licensure, please check out the final sections of this article.
To gain entry into a AVMA-accredited vet tech program, applicants typically must submit:
- Official high school transcripts
- Proof of having finished particular classes (e.g., algebra, biology, psychology, basic computer skills, English)
- Personal statement
- Proof of health insurance and vaccinations
Additionally, some programs ask for experience working or volunteering in animal healthcare, letters of recommendation, candidate interviews, or test scores (e.g., TOEFL for ESL students).
Luckily for aspiring vet techs in SC, there are currently three CVTEA-accredited programs in the state: Piedmont Technical College, TriCounty Technical College, and Trident Technical College.
Piedmont Technical College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology, featuring courses such as veterinary terminology; anatomy & physiology; parasitology; pharmacology; large animal clinical practice; lab animal medicine; and animal nutrition. This five-semester program has produced impressive results among its graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the main national credentialing exam in this profession. In fact, between 2012 and 2015, 75.7 percent of Piedmont’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
TriCounty Technical College of Pendleton also provides an associate program in veterinary technology. This program can be completed part-time or full-time, and there’s a uniquely flexible schedule including day, evening, and online course options. This school has classes such as animal breeds & husbandry; veterinary anesthesia; clinical pathology; clinical techniques; and an externship at one of the locally approved veterinary facilities. Most notably, between 2011 and 2015, an incredible 84.3 percent of its graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Trident Technical College of Charleston provides a 77-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. This involves classes such as office management & client communication; large animal clinical practice; small animal diseases & zoonosis; microbiology; laboratory animal medicine; and various special topics seminars. Among Trident’s program graduates between 2012 and 2015, an astounding 88 percent passed the VTNE on their first try.
Distance-based Vet Tech Programs
For some prospective students in more rural areas of SC or those with professional, familial, or other types of time commitments, attending an online vet tech program may make more sense. These programs typically involve a combination of rigorous online courses and in-person clinical practicums under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Especially for people employed in a veterinary setting or with an approved facility and mentor in mind, a web-based program can be ideal.
In addition to the flexible scheduling and general education courses offered online at TriCounty Technical College, there are currently nine distance-based, CVTEA-accredited vet tech programs across the country. One popular choice is the associate program at Penn Foster College of AZ, which boasts a dedicated faculty, multimedia coursework, and an affordable price at just $79 per credit. For residents of SC, there are various Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals which are approved for students to complete clinical work. Distance-based courses include anatomy & physiology; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; radiology; medical mathematics; and clinical parasitology. Between 2011 and 2014, 75.5 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Another option is at Colby Community College (CCC) of Kansas. This online associate of applied science (AAS) degree has classes such as principles of animal science; zoology; veterinary medical terminology; medical records & veterinary office skills; and breeds of domestic animals. Among CCC’s on-campus graduates in veterinary technology, 64 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
To discover other web-based training options in veterinary technology, please check out the online vet tech schools page.
SC Vet Tech Licensing
As mentioned above, professional licensure for veterinary technicians is mandatory in South Carolina. The South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is the main credentialing agency. To qualify as a licensed veterinary technician (LVT), candidates must do the following:
- Submit an application with a passport-style photo, a copy of one’s driver’s license and social security card, and a $50 fee
- Pass the South Carolina Jurisprudence Examination (i.e., Veterinary Medical Practice Rules and Regulations test) with a score of at least 70 percent
- Send official transcripts from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)
- Send official scores from the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
These licenses must be renewed every two years by March 31st following the completion of ten hours of continuing education (CE). Half of the CE credits can come from distance-based learning, as long as the provider has been pre-approved by the Board. For more information about the sources that qualify, please visit the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners website.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
For aspiring vet techs in South Carolina and beyond, seeking out programs which are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is highly recommended. For SC vet techs, it’s a prerequisite to licensure. The CVTEA weighs many factors in its veterinary technology program approval process, including:
- Student outcomes indicators (e.g., VTNE pass-rates)
- School or program finances
- Organization & communications effectiveness
- Quality of program facilities & equipment
- Clinical training opportunities
- Availability of libraries & other resources
- Admissions standards
- Faculty & staff quality
- Curriculum comprehensiveness
For a detailed look at each of these factors, please visit the accreditation standards on the CVTEA 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|
|Yes||LVT||Yes||Yes||Candidates are required to complete the State Jurisprudence Examination.||South Carolina Association of Veterinary Technicians|