In the Last Frontier State, there’s not only an abundance of wildlife, but also a wealth of pets in need of quality veterinary healthcare. One of the organizations rising to this challenge is the Alaska SPCA, which offers a comprehensive vet clinic, adoption services to connect animals in need with loving homes, and a pet food bank. For people interested in promoting the wellbeing of creatures mighty and small, becoming a veterinary technician may be a recommended career choice.
The Alaska Board of Veterinary Examiners (Aug. 2016) reports that vet techs may obtain professional licensure not only through the completion of academic programs in the field, but also by undertaking two years on-the-job training (OJT). As of May 2015, however, at least one of the two years must be completed in the state of Alaska. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) adds that the OJT pathway is available to residents in only a few US states, including California, Wisconsin, and Alaska.
So what do vet techs learn through two-to-four year veterinary technician programs or the OJT route? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stated that vet techs take on numerous responsibilities in a veterinary healthcare setting such as maintaining current medical records and supply inventories; restraining animals during immunizations and other routine physical examinations; keeping facilities and equipment sterilized; helping vets with various types of procedures (e.g. radiological, anesthetic, surgical, dental); collecting and analyzing laboratory samples; and educating people on best practices for their pets. In short, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) states that a vet tech is trained to be the “veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse, and client educator.”
The AVMA also provides a state-by-state scope of practice chart, which outlines the varying stipulations for the provision of vet tech care across regions. In Alaska, veterinary technicians are required to have professional licensure. Furthermore, those who choose the OJT pathway to licensure may only perform duties under the supervision of a licensed vet or vet tech.
Read on to discover the high-growth field of veterinary technology in Alaska, as well as to learn about the salary prospects, accredited online vet tech schools, and how to become licensed in the state.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Alaska
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|University of Alaska Anchorage||3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, Alaska, 99508||No||No|
Online Vet Tech Programs for Alaskan students
As stated in the introduction, the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) reported that there are various pathways for residents of Alaska to become veterinary technicians. One possible pathway is to learn skills through two years of on-the-job training (OJT), one year of which must be completed in Alaska. This may qualify a person for the AAVSB’s national test for credentialing in the profession: the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). There are very few states which offer this option toward credentialing, and the vast majority of people in this career field pursue a more traditional, academic route.
The more common pathway to this career for vet techs nationwide is to graduate from an accredited, two-to-four year program in veterinary technology. The predominant accreditation body in this field is the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
In order to gain entry to an accredited vet tech program, applicants typically need to submit the following:
- Official high school transcripts with proof of prerequisite coursework (e.g., chemistry, algebra, biology, English)
- Personal statement (500-600 words)
- Proof of vaccinations and/or health insurance
- Application fee
Other programs may call for test scores (e.g, SAT or ACT), personal interviews, or background checks. It also behooves candidates to have some experience working with animals.
As of September 2016, there were no CVTEA-accredited, on-campus programs for vet techs in Alaska, but there were eight online vet tech programs. These web-based programs typically involve a combination of online didactic coursework and in-house clinicals, which may be completed at qualifying veterinary facilities close to a student’s home.
For example, St. Petersburg College offers a three-year, online associate of science (AS) program in veterinary technology. It’s important to note that this school recently completed an $11 million, 32,000 sq. ft. veterinary technology facility, and while distance-based students aren’t required to visit, it may be advisable to take advantage of the world-class amenities. The online program boasts three convenient starting dates in August, January, and May, and is open to applicants who have worked (or volunteered) at a veterinary hospital for at least 40 hours. Coursework includes animal anatomy, veterinary medical terminology, animal breeds & behavior, anesthesia, emergency medicine, and avian & exotic pet medicine. One measure of a program’s effectiveness is the three-year VTNE passing rate for program graduates, a statistic that must be reported by law. Between 2013 and 2016, an impressive 74.4 percent of St. Petersburg’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Another distance-based vet tech program is available at Cedar Valley College of Texas. Their Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP) involves classes such as veterinary office management; anesthesia & surgical assistance; veterinary radiology; pharmacology; anatomy & physiology; canine & feline clinical management; and parasitology. Between 2011 and 2014, 78 percent of CVC’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first try.
Finally, Purdue University offers a part-time, online associate program in veterinary technology. This rigorous distance-based degree requires 35 courses and 17 clinical mentorships. Classes include anatomy; physiology; pharmacy procedures; diagnostic imaging for vet techs; clinical pathology; small animal nursing; animal agriculture; anesthesia; and laboratory animal health. This program typically requires four-to-six hours of studying time per week, and can be completed in 4.5 years. Between 2012 and 2015, 79 percent of the distance-based Purdue program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
These are only three of the online veterinary technology programs open to residents of Alaska. To learn more, check out the online vet tech colleges page.
Job Outlook for Alaska Vet Techs
There’s excellent news for aspiring veterinary technicians nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015), there’s expected to be a 19 percent increase in openings in this field between 2014 and 2024, much more substantial growth than that anticipated across all occupations during that time (7 percent). In Alaska, the growth in this profession is expected to be slightly slower, but still above the national average for jobs. CareerOneStop (2016)—a data-crunching affiliate of the US Department of Labor—reports that there will be an anticipated 13 percent increase in job opportunities for vet techs in the state between 2014 and 2024, making it the eighth fastest growing occupation among people with associate degrees in Alaska.
Vet Tech Salary in Alaska
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) found that there were 95,790 vet techs working across the country. They had an annual average salary of $33,280 and the following percentiles:
United States: 95,790 vet techs employed
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
In hourly terms, these figures equated to:
United States: $16.00/hour. average
- 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.
Interestingly, these figures tended to vary based on source of data. One self-reported salary aggregator—Payscale (Sept. 2016)—found different slightly different salaries among its 327 vet techs who responded with annual salaries:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
Additionally, Payscale (Sept. 2016) had more respondents who reported their salaries in hourly terms. For these 3,152 vet techs around the country, Payscale found the following percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.00/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $13.68/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16.00/hr.
- 90th percentile: $18.00/hr.
Luckily for vet techs in the Last Frontier State, salary percentiles for the Alaskan veterinary professionals tended to be higher than national averages. That said, it’s important to note that Alaska is also one of the more expensive states in which to live. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that AK has the sixth highest cost of living among US states. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the following figures.
First, Indeed (2016) reported that vet techs in AK make an annual average salary of $22,000, but this data is based on a relatively small sample size and consequently, figures from the BLS are assumed to be more reliable. The BLS (May 2015) reported that there were 180 vet techs working in AK with an annual average salary of $42,090—26.5 percent more than the national average—as well as the following wage percentiles:
Alaska (180 vet techs): $42,090 avg.
- 10th percentile: $32,620
- 25th percentile: $38,400
- 50th percentile (median): $43,150
- 75th percentile: $47,110
- 90th percentile: $49,630
Expressed in hourly terms, these AK vet tech salary figures equated to:
Alaska: $20.24/hr. avg.
- 10th percentile: $15.69/hr.
- 25th percentile: $18.46/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $20.74/hr.
- 75th percentile: $22.65/hr.
- 90th percentile: $23.86/hr.
These figures also tended to vary based on the region of the state. Despite Alaska’s vast landmass—the largest in the US—the state is relatively unpopulated. By extension, there’s currently only one BLS-designated region in AK (BLS May 2015):
Anchorage, AK (120 vet techs employed): $42,700 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $35,890
- 25th percentile: $40,430
- 50th percentile (median): $43,520
- 75th percentile: $46,840
- 90th percentile: $48,830
And in hourly terms:
Anchorage, AK: $20.53/hr. avg.
- 10th percentile: $17.26/hr.
- 25th percentile: $19.44/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $20.92/hr.
- 75th percentile: $22.52/hr.
- 90th percentile: $23.48/hr.
Where Do Alaska Vet Techs Work?
In Alaska, vet techs may be employed across a range of veterinary environments including animal hospitals, clinics, zoos, aquariums, animal sanctuaries, shelters, kennels, food inspection agencies, farms, colleges, research institutes, and humane societies. iHireVeterinary (Sept. 2016) posted vet tech openings at places such as All Creatures Veterinary Clinic, National Veterinary Associates, Providence Health & Associates, and VCA Animal Hospitals, which is a partner with Penn Foster, one of the online vet tech programs available. Additionally, Indeed (Sept. 2016) had opportunities at VCA Big Lake Animal Hospital, After Hours Veterinary Emergency Clinic, VCA Antech, Inc., and Hillside Pet Clinic, among others.
It’s important to note that some vet techs in Alaska choose to specialize in a subfield of veterinary technology in order to become a vet tech specialist (VTS). The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016) provides a guide to the societies and academies which focus on various aspects of veterinary care. A society functions as a professional association, whereas an academy typically has a specialized certification process with academic, experiential, and testing requirements for members. These specialized groups include:
- Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Anesthesia and Analgesia
- Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians
- Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
- Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians
- Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians
- Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
- American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians
To learn more about how to become a VTS, including the requisite education, training, and testing across various subfields of vet technology, please check out the veterinary technician careers page.
|Veterinary Career||Alaska Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Licensing in AK
As mentioned in the introduction, veterinary technicians must be licensed by the Alaska State Board of Veterinary Examiners in order to practice the profession in the state. There are varying routes to qualify, but the application to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development calls for:
- Notarized application
- Proof of having completed an accredited two-to-four year program in veterinary technology or proof of two years (700 hours) of on-the-job training (OJT) with at least one year in AK
- Three letters of recommendation (two from licensed vets)
- Passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Application fee ($50)
These licenses are valid for two years. As of September 2016, the Board was revising the renewal application, and interested candidates are encouraged to check back in November 2016 to verify the continuing education (CE) requirements to maintain active licensure.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
Finally, all vet tech candidates in AK who are interested in the academic route to licensure are advised to seek out programs accredited by the aforementioned Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) program-approval entity.
The CVTEA weighs many variables in its program accreditation process, including:
- Program & institutional finance management
- Quality of program curricula & faculty
- Student outcomes (e.g., VTNE passing rates)
- Availability of resources
To learn more about the process of vet tech program accreditation, check out the AVMA vet tech program accreditation criteria page.
|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||Completion of two years of on-the-job training under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and three letters of recommendation (two from licensed vets).||Alaska State Veterinary Medical Association|
* A limited permit may be provided in order to enable the candidate to complete supervised on-the-job training or practice hours, or to complete a licensing exam after an interstate transfer.