Utah is well-known around the world for its spectacular natural beauty. From Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion and Moab, it is a destination for both U.S. and international hikers, campers, and wilderness photographers. Of course, man-made beauty is also abundant, with the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City being a major pilgrimage site for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In fact, of a population of just about 3 million, more than 60% of people who live in Utah are members of the Mormon Church. The percentage of LDS members is lower in larger metropolitan areas, most specifically Salt Lake City, and is higher in rural regions. Anyone seeking any type of employment in Utah, including veterinary technicians, should be aware of and sensitive to the concerns and values of the church.
As a state that values its wilderness and its people, Utah of course also values its animals, making it an attractive choice for aspiring veterinary technicians. It is interesting to note that unlike many states, Utah does not use its state authority to regulate veterinary technicians. This means that technically, it is possible to start work as a vet tech right away, with no formal training. However, this is not necessarily the ideal course of action for someone who wants to find a good job and have a future in the career. For serious vet techs, it is still a good idea to start with formal education and training before jumping into a clinical setting. Luckily, there are accredited educational opportunities available in the beehive state for those who want to pursue this rewarding career.
During the course of their education, or when looking for initial employment opportunities, vet techs in Utah may want to avail themselves of the Utah Society of Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (USVTA). Through an active Facebook page, this group allows vet techs and students in Utah to connect to other professionals and to find jobs through networking and job postings. The Utah Veterinary Medicine Association (UVMA) may also be able to assist.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Utah
|Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited||Grads|
|Broadview University-West Jordan||1902 W 7800 S, West Jordan, Utah, 84088||No||Yes||17|
|Bridgerland Applied Technology College||1301 North 600 West, Logan, Utah, 84321||No||No||13|
How to Become a Vet Tech in Utah
Not every veterinary technician follows the same path to the career, but there are some prerequisites to finding employment in the field. The following are the most common steps that new vet techs take on their way to their first job.
- Step 1: Graduate High School
Duration: 4 years
According to CareerOneStop, an employment statistics site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, just 1.8% of veterinary technicians in the U.S. have less than a high school education, which means it is virtually required. Current high school students who are working towards a career as a vet tech should be sure to focus on classes like biology and chemistry to have the best chance of succeeding at the next level. High school students may also find it useful and inspirational to volunteer at a local animal shelter or veterinary office.
- Step 2: Complete Accredited Vet Tech Program
Duration: 2 to 4 years
Because vet techs in Utah are not licensed, there is no strict requirement that they attend a vet tech program. However, it will be much easier to find employment for those who can point to thorough training in the basics of the job, which means applying for and attending a vet tech program. Most programs last just 2 years and culminate in an Associate’s Degree. While accreditation is also not required, those programs that have earned programmatic accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (AVMA), will be able to offer the best educational opportunities.
- Step 3: Take VTNE
In states where licensure is offered, the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is a prerequisite. In Utah, this test is optional, but does serve to demonstrate the commitment and knowledge of the new vet tech who is able to prepare for and pass the exam.
Strong Demand for Vet Techs in Utah
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Utah currently employs 990 veterinary technicians (BLS, 2015). Vet techs in Utah work in private veterinary practice clinics and surgical centers, animal shelters, and educational facilities. In the U.S., the overall demand for vet techs is expected to grow by 19% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average of all occupations. In Utah, however, growth is expected to be even better. In fact, demand for vet techs in Utah is expected to grow by a whopping 79% over the same time period, adding 70 new jobs each year for a total of 1490 vet tech positions by 2024.
As with any occupation, the distinct region or city in Utah where one seeks employment can have an impact on job availability as well as salary.
Following is a regional breakdown of where the most vet techs in Utah are employed:
- Salt Lake City: 590
- Ogden-Clearfield: 160
- Provo-Orem: 70
- Southwest Utah nonmetropolitan area: 50
- Logan, UT-ID: 30
- St. George: 30
A breakdown of median annual salaries around Utah looks like the following:
- Southwest Utah nonmetropolitan area: $31,580
- Ogden-Clearfield: $30,790
- St. George: $28,650
- Provo-Orem: $26,350
- Salt Lake City: $25,470
- Logan, UT-ID: $23,320
As you can see, the most number of jobs do not always exist in the place with the highest salaries. While you may find a higher paying vet tech position in St. George than in Salt Lake City, with only 30 jobs the competition could be quite stiff.
Averaging salaries across the state, median pay for vet techs is a bit lower than it is for all state in the U.S. The Utah salaries are as follows:
- 10th percentile: $19,470
- 50th percentile: $26,690
- 90th percentile: $38,120
In the U.S. as a whole, vet tech salaries are as follows:
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 50th percentile: $31,800
- 90th percentile: $47,410
Professional networking and development is important for veterinary technicians who are just starting out. Groups such as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) and local organizations like the aforementioned USVTA offer the opportunity for techs to meet other veterinary professionals, learn about continuing education training and establish a sense of community within the profession.
|Veterinary Career||Utah Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2014)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Utah
The state of Utah has a few different options for schooling, although as of 2016 there is only one American Veterinary Medical Association accredited program still in operation with an on-campus option. However, students do have the option of choosing a online courses if they prefer.
Broadview University – West Jordan is the only AVMA on-campus accredited program currently operating in Utah. Although the Orem location of the university used to also offer an accredited program, that campus has since closed. Broadview – West Jordan offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology.
The program provides training in all of the fundamentals and basic vet tech information that is critical for aspiring veterinary technicians to learn. The programs covers such subjects as:
- Animal anatomy
- Medical terminology
- Physiology of animals
- Surgical assisting
Students can also gain hands-on experience caring for various animals, large and small. By the time a student completes the on-campus program, they should be ready to enter the field. The school’s accreditation status also means that graduates should be prepared to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam when they finish. Even though there are no regulations in Utah for vet techs, taking the exam can be a good idea, especially for those who may one day move out of state.
Students may want to consider online schooling as well, particularly if the West Jordan school is not convenient for them. Many online programs, such as Penn Foster, offer programs that give students the training for the field through distance learning. The online program can even help to pair students with local clinics to receive hands-on training.
Accreditation and Certification in Utah for Vet Techs
Currently, there is no licensing or regulation of vet techs in Utah. Those who are in the state do not have to have any license if they want to work as a veterinary technician. This means that even those who do not have training could become a tech theoretically. However, most of the animal clinics, hospitals, and other facilities throughout the state want to make sure they are hiring the best quality techs for the job. They may hire those who prove themselves through training and education and who take and pass their VTNE. Just because it is not necessary to have training in Utah does not mean you should forego it.
Take the time to look for a qualified two-year school that offers the proper training, and that has AVMA accreditation. This accreditation ensures you can sit for the national exam when the time comes. Although there is no regulatory board in Utah, it is still important to have training. You can use your transcripts and test score to help land a job in one of the clinics or animal hospitals in the state. Consider the prospect of hiring from the point of view of the clinic. If two candidates come into the clinic to apply for the same job, chances are they will hire the person who has the schooling and training simply because it can mean less training on the job.
|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||Utah does not require its veterinary technicians to be licensed.||Utah Veterinary Practice Act Law|