Top States for Veterinary Technicians in 2018

The future of the veterinary technician world holds great promise in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings for vet techs are predicted to grow 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is almost three times faster than the national average for all occupations (7 percent). This is expected to create 20,400 fresh jobs in this field.

The rapid growth of vet tech positions rests on the growing pet care industry. In a recent national pet owners survey, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that because of the companionship, love, stress relief, and other health benefits provided by pets, owners are increasingly humanizing their furry friends, treating them as family members.

This increase in humanization is a driving factor for an industry where expenditures within the U.S. pet industry topped out at almost $70 billion last year, and many pet owners taking their pets to the vet more often. Of the pet-related expenses in which Americans invested, $17.07 billion—nearly 25 percent—of total pet-related dollars spent went toward veterinary care. The APPA predicts that spending on veterinary care will rise to $18.26 billion in 2018.

With the anticipated growth of the pet care industry, veterinarians will need more qualified technicians and technologists to perform tests, prepare vaccines, prep tissue samples, take blood samples, clean instruments, maintain equipment, and assist vets during surgery.

Read on to learn which states in the U.S. have the highest demand for vet technicians.

States With The Highest Demand For Veterinary Technicians and Technologists

Of the 20,400 new jobs anticipated for vet techs across the U.S. between 2016 and 2026, the following list represents the states that are expected to have the most jobs, the highest average of job openings per year, and the greatest percentage of growth through 2026:

New Jobs Average Openings Per Year Percentage
  1. California – 1,900
  2. Colorado – 1,410
  3. New York – 880
  4. Pennsylvania – 500
  5. Washington – 430
  6. New Jersey – 410
  7. New Hampshire – 200
  8. Iowa – 180
  9. Alabama – 160
  10. Kansas – 160
  1. California – 970
  2. New York – 470
  3. Colorado – 450
  4. Pennsylvania – 450
  5. New Jersey – 280
  6. Washington – 230
  7. New Hampshire – 100
  8. Alabama – 100
  9. Iowa – 80
  10. Kansas – 70
  1. Colorado – 36.5 percent
  2. North Dakota – 29.4
  3. Kansas – 25.9
  4. Iowa – 25.6
  5. New Hampshire – 22.4
  6. California – 20.7
  7. New York – 19.7
  8. Washington – 19.2
  9. Wyoming – 17.5
  10. Arkansas – 16.8

A Closer Look at Job Outlook In States with High Demand

In 2017, the median annual wage for veterinary technologists and technicians in the United States was $33,400, according to the BLS. Techs in the tenth percentile made $22,800 per year, and techs earning in the 90th percentile made $49,350 per year.

Check out the expected salaries for vet techs in the states with the highest demand, the regions in each state that provide the highest salaries, and local educational opportunities for veterinary technicians.

California

With an anticipated 1,900 new jobs between 2016 and 2026, 970 job openings per year, and a faster than average growth rate of 20.7 percent, California will have many opportunities for veterinary technicians and technologists. As of May 2017, the median wage for veterinary techs working in California was $37,600 per year—113 percent of the national annual average for vet techs. Techs in the 10th percentile made $25,500 per year, and techs in the 90th percentile earned $58,600 per year. On the national scale, California’s annual median wages ranked fifth in 2017.

Highest Paying Regions in California

Median annual wages for veterinary technicians in California can range from $25,870 in Bakersfield to $37,970 in the Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Anaheim area. Below is detailed salary information for the three regions in California offering the highest wages:

Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Glendale Napa San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, and Arroyo Grande
10th Percentile $26,280 $26,860 $26,720
Median $37,970 $37,850 $37,850
90th Percentile $60,390 $50,650 $49,270

Educational Opportunity – Santa Rosa Junior College

SRJC’s veterinary technician program is designed for current veterinary assistants or others currently working in the in the veterinary industry looking to advance their careers. The program qualifies students to sit for the California Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) board exam through the “alternative route.” Students looking to sit for the boards via this avenue must complete 20 approved semester-units of animal health courses while gaining the required two years of full-time practical experience. The program covers topics like veterinary anatomy, surgical assistance, and veterinary lab procedures.

  • Location: Santa Rosa, California
  • Tuition: $46 per unit for California residents, and $347 per unit for non-residents
  • Program length: 23 units

Colorado

At 36.5 percent anticipated growth between 2016 and 2026, Colorado is predicted to be the state with the highest percentage growth in the veterinary tech occupation. Colorado is expected to see 1,410 new jobs by 2026 and an average of 450 job openings per year.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Office of Labor Market Information, the median annual wage for vet techs working in Colorado in 2017 was $34,167. Vet techs earning in the 10th percentile in 2017 made $25,444 annually, and those earning in the 90th percentile made $46,200. Nationwide, Colorado ranked 19th nationally for median annual vet tech wages in 2017.

Highest Paying Regions in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment only reports on wages for three metropolitan regions. The following detailed salary information highlights what a vet tech working in one of the three regions in Colorado can expect to earn, based on reports from 2017:

Fort Collins and Loveland Denver and Aurora Colorado Springs
10th Percentile $26,813 $26,261 $25,992
Median $35,566 $35,333 $34,654
90th Percentile $46,419 $46,269 $48,273

Educational Opportunity – Pima Medical Institute

By enrolling in Pima Medical Institute’s (PMI) Veterinary Technician Program, students can obtain an associate of applied science (AAS). In Colorado, the program is available at PMI’s Aurora and Colorado Springs campuses; the program is also available at PMI campuses in Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Texas, and Washington. The program, which includes an externship, prepares students to work with animals, both domestic and exotic, at a wide range of animal facilities and clinics. Coursework includes laboratory animal science, diagnostic imaging, exotic animal medicine, and small animal nursing.

  • Location: Aurora and Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Tuition: $15,852 for full program
  • Program length: 30 credits

New York

New York is another promising state for veterinary techs looking for employment opportunities. With a growth rate projected at 19.7 percent between 2016 and 2026, the BLS predicts that there will be 880 new jobs in New York State and job seekers can expect an average of 470 job openings for vet techs each year.

According to the New York Department of Labor, the median annual salary for vet techs in 2017 was $42,830. Entry-level veterinary technicians and technologists made $31,950 per year, and experienced techs made $50,490 per year. Nationwide, New York ranked second for median annual salary for veterinary technicians and technologists in 2017.

Highest Paying Regions in New York

Of the ten regions reported on by the New York Department of labor, the range for the median annual wage in 2017 was between $31,810 in Mohawk Valley and $48,770 in New York City. Detailed below are the range of salaries a vet tech could expect to earn based on the top three regions for median annual wages in New York in 2017:

New York City Hudson Valley Long Island
10th Percentile $35,470 $33,830 $35,350
Median $48,770 $45,300 $44,410
90th Percentile $56,880 $56,640 $49,390

Educational Opportunity – LaGuardia Community College

LaGuardia Community College, a branch of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, offers a competitive veterinary tech program where graduates can earn an associate of applied sciences (AAS) degree. LaGCC’s vet tech program is divided into two phases. All students are accepted into the preclinical phase and must complete the introductory 12-credit-hour phase with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Following completion of the pre-clinical phase, students can apply for acceptance into the clinical phase and are accepted based on GPA and grades in certain courses.

The 65-credit-hour program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and prepares students to sit for the New York State licensing exam. Coursework includes vertebrate anatomy and physiology, farm animal nursing, principles of animal control, and a companion animal intern experience.

  • Location: Long Island, New York
  • Tuition: $4,800 per year for New York City residents; $9,600 per year for non-residents
  • Program length: 65 credits