The Grand Canyon State not only boasts an incredible diversity of plant and animal life but also has a thriving culture of animal welfare. By illustration, the Arizona Humane Society offers a wealth of services to help furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures. It provides adoption services, tips for pet-owners, volunteering, vaccination, charity events, and even advocacy for animal protection. With reports of more than 7,700 incidents of animal cruelty reported in Arizona, the Humane Society fights to strengthen legislation protecting the vulnerable pet populations dependent on humans for life.
One way for an animal-lover to apply their interests to a career is to become a veterinary technician. This job has a relatively low educational barrier to entry, and a fairly rapid timeline to work. 26 percent of these animal healthcare professionals hold an associate degree, 15 percent hold a post-secondary certificate, and 41 percent hold a high school diploma or equivalent (O*NET 2020). Vet Tech programs generally take just two years to complete, and many involve externships that provide practical and hands-on learning experiences.
So what do veterinary technicians do? Overall, vet techs assist licensed veterinarians in providing high-quality animal healthcare. On a more detailed scale, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides an extensive checklist of necessary skills needed for this occupation such as restraining animals during common procedures, administering anesthesia, maintaining medical records, fulfilling operating room duties & sterilization, assisting with dental procedures (e.g., floating teeth), giving pharmaceuticals, performing necropsies, and doing diagnostic imaging.
What is the scope of practice within the state of Arizona (AZ)? It’s important to note that professional restrictions for vet techs vary by state. In fact, the AVMA (2020) has a table of regionally authorized procedures. The AVMA defines a certified veterinary technician in Arizona as someone who either graduated from a two-year AVMA-accredited program and passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) or had been certified prior to 2010 according to former rules of the board.
Vet techs in AZ may provide emergency care or first aid under telephone-based supervision of a veterinarian, demonstrating a relatively generous scope of practice compared to other states. Finally, any certified vet tech who provides emergency care in good faith is not liable for damages barring cases of gross negligence.
Read on to discover the career outlook for vet techs in the Copper State, as well as information about accredited programs (on-campus and online) and how to pursue professional certification.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Mesa Community College||1833 W Southern Ave, Mesa, Arizona, 85202||No||Yes|
|Penn Foster College||14300 N. Northsight Blvd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260||Yes||Yes|
|Pima Community College||8181 E Irvington Road, Tucson, Arizona, 85709-4000||No||Yes|
|Pima Medical Institute-East Valley||2160 S Power Rd, Mesa, Arizona, 85209||No||Yes|
|Pima Medical Institute-Phoenix||13610 N. Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, Arizona, 85029||No||Yes|
|Pima Medical Institute-Tucson||2121 N. Craycroft Rd, Bldg 1, Tucson, Arizona, 85712||No||Yes|
Accredited Veterinary Technician Programs in Arizona
In Arizona, there are six programs (five campus-based programs, one online program) accredited through the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the main accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country. Please reference the section below on program accreditation for more information.
In order to get into a two to four-year program in veterinary technology, admissions committees may call for official high school transcripts; proof of passing grades in specific classes (e.g., algebra, chemistry, biology, English); solid test scores (SAT or ACT, and TOEFL for non-native speakers of English); letter(s) of recommendation; documentation of immunizations, health insurance, or American citizenship; and an application fee. It may also behoove applicants to have experience working (or volunteering) with animals in a professional setting to demonstrate one’s commitment to the field.
Mesa Community College is a CVTEA-accredited program located in Mesa. Ideal for people interested in a rigorous and challenging educational experience, this associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology degree features coursework in principles of equine science, veterinary pharmacology, veterinary clinical pathology methods, and veterinary office management and client communication.
Along with general educational requirements, Mesa requires students to complete several hands-on, specialized vet tech internships at approved clinical sites close to the school. 86.3 percent of all program graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020.
Pima Community College, in Tucson, offers a CVTEA-accredited associate of applied science (AAS) degree. It features advanced courses in veterinary nursing procedures (I/II); clinical pathology (I/II); pharmacology; radiology & imaging techniques; and two supervised clinical externships.
These course credits may be used toward a bachelor of applied science (BAS) or other qualifying four-year degrees. Among Pima Community College’s program graduates, 80 percent passed the VTNE on the first try between 2017 and 2020.
The other three CVTEA-accredited, on-campus AAS degree programs are offered through the Pima Medical Institute. These programs take place in Mesa (East Valley Campus), Phoenix, and Tucson. Pima teaches the first set of courses using a hybrid learning system with a mix of online and on-campus coursework. Courses include an introduction to veterinary technology; laboratory procedures for veterinary technicians; dentistry techniques; surgical nursing for veterinary technicians; exotic animal medicine and nursing; and more.
The program consists of 78.5 credits including one externship. The total number of program hours is 1,775 and the degree takes 18 months to complete. Between 2017 and 2020 Pima’s first time VTNE pass rates were 82.4 percent in Tucson, 82.2 percent in Phoenix, and 80.6 percent at East Valley in Mesa.
Online Vet Tech Programs for Arizona Students
For some aspiring veterinary technicians, attending a campus-based program may not be the most convenient option. There may be restrictions on someone’s availability due to familial, time-based, or regional commitments. Fortunately, there are currently ten CVTEA-accredited distance-based programs to meet the needs of these students. Web-based vet tech programs typically combine online didactic coursework with clinical instruction provided at an approved site under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian.
Penn Foster of Scottsdale, AZ has an AVMA-accredited distance-based AAS program in veterinary technology boasting dedicated faculty, interactive study materials, affordable tuition, and ample opportunities for hands-on clinical experiences through Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals. Courses in this program include information literacy; veterinary office management; medical mathematics; small and large animal medicine; and laboratory animal medicine and nursing. Among the 642 program graduates between 2017 and 2020, 71 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
For more information about online vet tech programs, please visit the distance-based veterinary technician programs page.
Demand, Career Outlook & Salary for Vet Techs in Arizona
In Arizona, the future looks very bright for veterinary technicians. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) projects a 16 percent increase nationally in job openings in this field between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average anticipated growth for all occupations during that period (4 percent). With the expected addition of 18,200 positions for vet techs around the country, there are expected to be ample professional opportunities in this field in the decade to come.
What about the salary prospects for vet techs? According to the BLS (2019), the 110,650 vet techs around the country had an annual average salary of $36,670. This is slightly higher than the average $35,530 earned by vet techs in Arizona the same year.
Here’s is a comparison between the salary percentiles of veterinary technicians in the United States and in Arizona specifically (BLS May 2019):
|Number of vet tech professionals employed||110,650||1,580*|
|Annual mean wage||$36,670||$35,530|
|50th percentile (median)||$35,320||$35,260|
*This figure is for 2017. The BLS estimates for Arizona were not released in 2019.
It’s important to look at a salary within the context of the cost of living. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that AZ was the 29th most affordable place to live in the United States. In terms of the cost of groceries, transportation, utilities, housing, and health, the cost of living in Arizona is just about equal to the United States average.
Vet techs in Arizona seek out employment in a wide range of environments such as animal clinics, veterinary hospitals, biomedical research facilities, universities, specialty practices (e.g., critical care, surgery, rehabilitation, small animal, etc.) clinics, humane societies, shelters, kennels, public health organizations, pet food companies, farms, and more.
In addition to traditional job-hunting services such as Monster, Indeed, SimplyHired, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn, the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association (AzVMA) has an active job postings board with opportunities available at places such as Sunburst Animal Hospital, Baseline Animal Clinic, and Christown Animal Hospital and Boarding. Joining the National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVTA) may also confer professional benefits, including the ability to network with others in the field, access to an academic journal, and opportunities for continuing education.
Finally, to enhance their job prospects, some veterinary technicians choose to specialize in fields such as critical care, dermatology, exotic animal nursing, equine medicine, dentistry, anesthesia, clinical pathology, surgery, animal behavior, and other subfields. For a detailed examination of how to join these growing specialties, please visit the veterinary technician page.
|Veterinary Career||Arizona Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2019)|
|Low Salary (10TH %ILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)|
*This figure is for 2017. The BLS estimates for Arizona were not released in 2019.
How to Become a Certified Vet Tech (CVT) in Arizona
In order to become a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in AZ, candidates typically follow this trajectory:
- Graduate from high school with qualifying grades in courses such as biology, chemistry, algebra, and English
- Graduate from a two- to four-year program in veterinary technology accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)
- Successfully pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Apply for certification through the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board (AZVMEB)
To qualify for certification through the Board, candidates must show proof of having graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, send official VTNE test scores, submit three character references, provide proof of US citizenship, give a resume with proof of two years of employment as a vet tech, pay a $150 fee, and pass a State Board Exam for certification. The Arizona-specific exam is offered three times annually, typically during April, August, and December.
Finally, in order to maintain active certification, CVTs must submit a renewal application and complete 10 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years. All certifications expire on December 31st of every even-numbered year. Also, Arizona has specific rules about the type of CE that qualifies, and these rules are subject to change. For the most recent information, please check out AZVMEB’s continuing education page.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned above, prospective veterinary technicians in AZ are encouraged to seek out programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the approval organization created by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
To qualify for licensure, certification, or registration in most states—including Arizona—graduating for an AVMA-accredited program is a requirement. Additionally, in order to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—the predominant national credentialing exam for vet techs—a candidate must have completed a two to four-year AVMA-accredited program. The CVTEA weighs many factors in its program approval process such as institutional accreditation status, quality of physical facilities, student outcomes (i.e., VTNE first-time passing rates), faculty prestige, program curricula, students support services, admissions processes, and program finance management.
For a full examination of the criteria, please visit the CVTEA website.