Two nicknames for Arkansas (AR) are the “Natural State” and the “Land of Opportunity,” both fitting monikers when one considers the abundance of career opportunities for animal-lovers. In fact, the Humane Society of Pulaski County (HSPC) of central AR has expanded its shelter facilities, touting an animal save rate of 98.01 percent in 2018. HSPC also helped author legislation in 1979 which banned the use of a decompression chamber for euthanasia, as well as the state’s Retail Pet Store Act of 1991, a law that criminalized inhumane conditions in those facilities.
Additionally, the HSPC formed disaster response teams that rescued hundreds of displaced pets in the wake of Little Rock’s tornadoes of 1997 and 1999. This organization has clear goals for the next 60 years—including advancing “no-kill” shelter policies, ending all inhumane euthanasia practices, and establishing a low-cost spay & neuter facility in AR—and will continue to promote animal welfare into the future.
The HSPC is one organization that employs veterinary technicians in Arkansas, a field rapidly growing in the state and country at large. A vet tech in AR is an individual who has earned a diploma from a program accredited by the AVMA and works under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. These animal healthcare professionals have a relatively generous scope of practice in the state, as the AVMA does not offer extensive regulations regarding the conduct of AR vet techs.
So what can vet techs in Arkansas expect to do? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) provides a detailed examination of the job responsibilities in this field. Typically, veterinary technicians assist vets with common procedures (e.g., dental, surgical, radiological, anesthetic); restrain animals during the administration of medications or first aid; manage animal patient records; perform laboratory analyses on various sample types (e.g., blood, urine, tissue); maintain the cleanliness and sterilization of facilities; educate animal-owners about nutrition and proper care; and keep up-to-date on technological and medicinal advances in the field.
The Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) adds that formal academic programs for vet techs started in the 1960s, whereas in the past, many of these professionals learned their skills on the job. Currently, in AR, there is one accredited, on-campus training program available, as well as several online programs. There are also excellent programs in surrounding states.
Read on to discover the bright career outlook for vet techs in Arkansas, as well as to learn about various accredited programs and professional credentialing information.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Arkansas State University-Beebe||1000 Iowa Street, Beebe, Arkansas, 72012-1000||No||Yes|
CVTEA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Arkansas
To qualify as a veterinary technician in Arkansas, a person must graduate from a two to four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program-approval entity of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Read the last section of this article to learn more about the accreditation process.
In Arkansas, there is currently one AVMA-accredited vet tech program: the AAS in Veterinary Technology program at Arkansas State University at Beebe (ASUB).
Arkansas State University at Beebe (ASUB) offers an AVMA-accredited program to applicants with at least 20 hours of work or observation experience in a veterinary setting. This associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology involves 71 credits of courses such as anatomy and physiology; animal reproduction, nutrition and production; laboratory techniques; wild, zoo, and lab animal care; radiology; and pathology; among others.
Please note that many of the general education courses are offered online and may minimize the amount of time a person needs to spend on campus. One measure of program effectiveness is the program graduate passing rate on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). Among ASUB veterinary technology graduates, 75 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020.
Online Vet Tech Programs for Students in Arkansas
For some aspiring veterinary technicians and technologists, attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school can prove difficult due to familial or professional obligations. Luckily there are also eight AVMA-accredited online programs across the country, which involve a combination of web-based courses and clinical experiences at approved, local sites close to a student’s home. During the course of these programs, essential vet tech skills are acquired and typically signed off on “abilities checklists” by licensed veterinarians.
For students who are available for clinical experiences in nearby Alabama, the Jefferson State Community College of Birmingham offers an online associate degree in veterinary technology. Ideal for applicants who work 20 hours per week at a veterinary clinic, Jefferson provides online didactic instruction in the anatomy and physiology of mammals; vet tech emergency and first aid; clinical procedures and pathology; animal diseases and immunology; and anesthesia and diagnostic imaging.
To qualify for this program, candidates must have at least 360 hours of practical experience in an animal healthcare setting and be available to interview at the Jefferson campus. Among Jefferson’s graduates, 68 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020.
Dallas College (Cedar Valley campus) provides an AVMA-accredited online associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. Core coursework includes units in surgical preparation; canine and feline clinical management; veterinary pharmacology; anesthesia and surgical assistance; radiology and ultrasound; and veterinary office management. An impressive 68 percent of Cedar Valley’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020.
To learn more about the distance-based programs available, check out the online vet tech programs page.
Career Outlook for Vet Techs in Arkansas
In Arkansas, there’s a growing pool of job openings in the field of veterinary technology. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) predicts that the number of positions in this field will increase 16 percent nationwide between 2019 and 2029. This is four times the average growth projected for all occupations during that time period (4 percent), adding 18,200 fresh vet tech positions around the country. And the swelling number of job openings is only part of the story.
These skilled professionals can seek employment in a range of facilities in AR and beyond, including veterinary hospitals, biomedical research facilities, specialty animal clinics (e.g., avian, equine, exotic, etc.), food inspection agencies, zoo and wildlife centers, parks, farms, shelters, kennels, aquariums, public policy organizations, and humane societies.
Indeed maintains active vet tech job postings in AR with opportunities at places such as Bellevue Animal Clinic, Benton Veterinary Hospital, Spring Park Animal Hospital, Hancock Veterinary Services, and Wedington Animal Hospital. Additionally, the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a careers page and advertises vet tech openings as well.
Finally, to enhance one’s salary or employment prospects, some AR vet techs invest in acquiring the specialized knowledge and skills needed to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). To become a VTS, candidates typically need to seek certification through an organization such as the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians or the Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians.
To qualify, vet techs must generally have at least 1,000 or more hours of experience in their specialty of choice, letters of recommendation from supervising veterinarians, and a passing score on a comprehensive examination. Other specialties include clinical practice, dentistry, veterinary nursing, internal medicine, dermatology, equine nursing, nutrition, and zoological medicine.
To learn more about how to become a VTS, check out the vet tech careers page.
Vet Tech Salaries in Arkansas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020), the 109,490 veterinary technicians employed across the United States earned an average salary of $37,860 per year. The table below shows how vet tech salaries in Arkansas compare to national averages at all various salary percentiles:
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||510|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$32,420|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$31,050|
While vet tech salaries are lower in Arkansas than national averages, it’s important to note that the cost of living is also substantially below average and therefore lower salaries come with more purchasing power in the Land of Opportunity. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) ranked AR the fourth most affordable state in the United States. Arkansas boasts particular savings in housing, healthcare, and utility costs relative to the rest of the country.
|VETERINARY CAREER||ARKANSAS JOBS||SALARY DATA (BLS 2020)|
|LOW SALARY (10TH %ILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)|
Vet Tech Certification in Arkansas
To become a veterinary technician in Arkansas, a person must apply for certification through the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Examining Board by submitting the following:
- Proof of US citizenship
- A photograph
- A copy of one’s diploma from an AVMA-accredited program in veterinary technology
- Official copy of college transcript
- Passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Notarized letter of recommendation from a licensed veterinarian
- Application fee ($40.00)
To maintain active status as a certified veterinary technician (CVT), candidates must submit an annual renewal application with $25.00 and proof of having completed six hours of continuing education (CE). The renewal period begins each year on April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following year. Finally, Arkansas allows students to complete two of the six required CE hours online. A variety of web-based CE opportunities are available through these services:
- National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)
- World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA)
- VetMed Team
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned in the discussion of Arkansas vet tech schools, attending an accredited program is essential to qualify as a certified vet tech (CVT) in the state. The main accreditation body is a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA evaluates vet technology programs according to the following criteria:
- Student outcomes (e.g., VTNE passing rates)
- Quality of curricula, faculty, and facilities
- School finance management
- Organization & communications within program
- Availability of libraries & other resources
- Admissions processes
- Institutional accreditation
Finally, the CVTEA is a programmatic accreditation body, but there are institutional accreditation bodies as well. Although the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Examining Board doesn’t have explicit recommendations regarding this type of accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the main regional body that approves schools as a whole in AR. To learn more about each of these types of accreditation, please visit the CVTEA accreditation standards and HLC websites.