In the Land of Steady Habits, there is a longstanding culture of protecting domestic animals and wildlife. By illustration, Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection offers information about the breeding seasons of local wildlife organized by month, increasing awareness of local inhabitants such as black bears, coyotes, beavers, deer, gray squirrels, and robins, to name a few. Additionally, the Connecticut Humane Society aims to discourage puppy mills—the for-profit breeding operations which are especially prevalent in Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—and advocates for adoption instead. The Humane Society elucidates the state’s tough legal protections for all creatures, including CGS 53-247 which “prohibits people from overdriving, overloading, overworking, torturing, depriving of substance, mutilating, cruelly beating or killing, or unjustifiably injuring any animal.” In 2014, there were 380 volunteers who logged hours walking dogs, cuddling with cats, providing medical services, giving shelter tours, and offering other valuable services. For those interested in animal welfare, becoming a veterinary technician in Connecticut (CT) is one way to translate this love of animals into a growing career.
First, what is a veterinary technician? National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) states that vet techs operate as nurses for animals, taking on varied responsibilities such as maintaining animal medical records; helping veterinarians with common procedures (e.g., dental, diagnostic, surgical, anesthetic, etc.); educating pet-owners about nutrition and other aspects of proper care; managing supply inventories; analyzing lab samples to diagnose medical issues; and sterilizing equipment. They assist in the restraint and hygienic care of animal patients, working in a range of environments such as clinics, hospitals, zoos, sanctuaries, kennels, aquariums, aviaries, biomedical research institutes, farms, universities, and more. It’s also worth noting that vet techs in CT have some of the most generous laws regarding the scope of practice. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) reports that in Connecticut, vet techs may administer controlled substances under the direction and supervision of veterinarian, a privilege not typically available to vet techs in other states. Furthermore, veterinary technicians do not need to be certified, registered, or licensed in Connecticut, and there is no mention of veterinary technicians in the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine’s Practice Act. It’s also one of the few states that does not have a credentialing body.
Read on to discover the promising career outlook for vet techs in CT, as well as to explore accredited programs and what to do in lieu of professional credentialing to prepare for this high-growth field.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Connecticut
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Middlesex Community College||100 Training Hill Rd., Middletown, Connecticut, 6457||No||Yes|
|Northwestern Connecticut Community College||Park Pl E, Winsted, Connecticut, 6098||No||Yes|
Accredited CT Veterinary Technician Programs
As mentioned above, for prospective vet techs in CT, attending a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—provides some professional benefits. As the CVTEA is the main accreditation agency nationwide for vet techs, its program-approval process can serve as a proxy for the quality of instruction. For more information about how programs are accredited, please see the “Accreditation” section below.
In order to gain entry to an associate of applied science (AAS) program in veterinary technology, students must typically submit their official high school transcripts; letter(s) of recommendation; a personal essay; proof of health insurance and immunizations; and an application fee. Additionally, programs such as the one at Middlesex Community College ask program applicants to be able to lift 55 lbs. (25 kg) and have at least a ‘C’ in secondary school biology, chemistry, algebra, English and basic computing skills.
There are currently two CVTEA-accredited programs in Connecticut. Middlesex Community College (MXCC) provides an AAS degree in veterinary technology in collaboration with Pieper-Olson Veterinary Hospital, also located in Middletown. In addition to general education courses, students take classes in medical terminology, animal care, vet office management & communication, veterinary anatomy & physiology, principles of pharmacology, and vet anesthesia. Also, students participate in a hands-on supervised internship to put their newfound skills and abilities to the test. Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NWCC) of Winsted also offers an AAS program, featuring coursework in small animal veterinary technology, general psychology, periodontology & oral radiology, veterinary anesthesia & surgical nursing, microbiology, parasitology, and two rigorous clinical externships. NWCC also boasts an impressive first-time pass rate on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), as 87 percent of its program graduates passed between 2011 and 2014.
Given that there are only two CVTEA-accredited programs in CT, it may be difficult for some qualified students to attend a campus-based program. Luckily, there are nine CVTEA-accredited, distance-based vet tech programs as well. One option is at Penn Foster which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. With dedicated faculty, affordable pricing, and interactive content, Penn Foster’s associate program in veterinary technology has courses such as information literacy, medical nursing for veterinary technicians, and clinical pathology. As part of the program, students participate in clinical hours at sites located close to their homes. Opportunities are available at Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals, or at approved private practices in CT towns and cities. Also, Penn Foster had 75.5 percent of its program graduates pass the VTNE on their first attempt between 2011 and 2014. Another option is at Jefferson State Community College of Birmingham, Alabama. Open to students who work or volunteer for a licensed veterinarian at least 20 hours weekly, Jefferson State has online courses in anatomy & physiology of mammals, emergency & first aid, clinical procedures & pathology, animal diseases & immunology, animal pharmacology & toxicology, and anesthesia & diagnostic imaging. For more information on distance-based programs for vet techs, please check out the online veterinary technician programs page.
Finally, vet tech students in CT may choose to specialize in order to deepen their skills and enhance their job candidacy. Several subfields of veterinary technology have been designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), including zoological medicine, critical care, anesthesia & analgesia, animal behavior & psychology, dentistry, equine nursing, and nutrition. To learn more about how to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), please visit the main veterinary technician page.
Demand for Vet Techs in CT
As mentioned above, there is a very bright job outlook for veterinary technicians in Connecticut and nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) anticipates that openings for veterinary technicians and technologists will explode between 2014 and 2024, increasing an impressive 19 percent during that period. This is nearly three times the average growth projected across all occupations over that time (7 percent). The picture is even more favorable in the Provisions State. In fact, CareerOneStop (2014)—a data organization sponsored by the US Department of Labor—found that vet techs occupy the fifth fastest growing career in CT, projecting a 29 percent increase in positions in this field between 2012 and 2022.
So what about the salary prospects for vet techs? In another stroke of good fortune, vet techs of the Nutmeg State stand to make more money annually than national averages. As proof of point, the BLS (2015) reported that among the 95,790 vet techs around the country, there was an average annual salary of $33,280. By comparison, for the 1,600 vet techs in CT, the mean salary was $37,850. In more granular terms, the BLS (2015) found the following salary ranges for all vet techs in the US:
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
Interestingly, Payscale (2016)—a company which aggregates self-reported wages in common occupations—found similar percentiles among its 327 responding vet techs from around the country:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
In Connecticut, however, these figures increased substantially. Here are the salary percentiles among the 1,600 working vet techs in CT (BLS 2015):
- 10th percentile: $26,130
- 25th percentile: $30,920
- 50th percentile (median): $36,250
- 75th percentile: $44,050
- 90th percentile: $52,820
Not surprisingly, these figures also tended to vary based on region of CT. Notably, the Norwich and New London area enjoyed the highest salaries in the state. Among the seven designated metropolitan (and nonmetropolitan) areas for the Constitution State, these were the salary averages, number of vet techs employed, and wage percentiles (BLS 2015):
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT (320 vet techs employed): $40,770 average annual salary
- 10th percentile: $27,020
- 25th percentile: $31,220
- 50th percentile (median): $38,690
- 75th percentile: $48,660
- 90th percentile: $58,990
Danbury, CT (130 employed): $40,810 avg.
- 10th percentile: $29,480
- 25th percentile: $34,350
- 50th percentile (median): $40,850
- 75th percentile: $46,700
- 90th percentile: $50,460
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT (610 employed): $35,760 avg.
- 10th percentile: $24,630
- 25th percentile: $28,940
- 50th percentile (median): $34,700
- 75th percentile: $40,630
- 90th percentile: $50,370
New Haven, CT (320 employed): $35,540 avg.
- 10th percentile: $26,230
- 25th percentile: $31,410
- 50th percentile (median): $35,060
- 75th percentile: $38,690
- 90th percentile: $46,530
Norwich-New London, CT-RI (90 employed): $45,540 avg.
- 10th percentile: $28,720
- 25th percentile: $34,350
- 50th percentile (median): $43,270
- 75th percentile: $54,400
- 90th percentile: $69,710
Waterbury, CT (50 employed): $43,100 avg.
- 10th percentile: $33,020
- 25th percentile: $35,380
- 50th percentile (median): $39,370
- 75th percentile: $51,020
- 90th percentile: $59,760
Northwestern Connecticut nonmetropolitan area (30 employed): $36,270 avg.
- 10th percentile: $29,870
- 25th percentile: $33,030
- 50th percentile (median): $36,180
- 75th percentile: $39,330
- 90th percentile: $44,900
It’s important to keep in mind that while wages for vet techs in CT are significantly higher than national averages, this state also has a different cost of living. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that Connecticut is the sixth most expensive state in which to live—especially in terms of housing costs—and this is something to consider.
Finally, salaries for vet techs also vary substantially by years of experience. Here are the median annual salaries of vet techs according to years on-the-job (Payscale 2016):
- Entry-level (0-5 years): $26,000
- Mid-career (5-10 years): $31,000
- Experienced (10-20 years): $34,000
- Late-career (20+ years): $35,000
In addition to common employment search sites such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn, the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) maintains active job postings for vet techs openings around CT, featuring places such as Pieper Memorial VETS, Bull’s Head Pet Hospital, Stafford & Willington Veterinary Center, and Aspetuck Animal Hospital, to name a few. Many of these employers offer events, animal advocacy resources, and other services. By illustration, the Manchester Veterinary Clinic of CT hosted the Vet Olympics in 2013—a unique event with fun team activities including a human knot, a maze, and cereal box puzzles—and the proceeds were donated to the Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF). In 2014 and 2015, the clinic hosted the games-based Vet Challenge which also donated its proceeds to the ACF.
Since CT does not require professional credentialing, many of these vet tech positions call for at least a high school diploma and at least one year of experience. That said, it may still be wise to enroll in an accredited veterinary technology program for several reasons. First, for vet techs who may relocate to another state, having graduated from a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—is typically an entry-level requirement. Second, to prepare for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—the main credentialing exam for vet techs across the country—candidates must have graduated from a CVTEA-accredited program. Third, these programs are designed to give aspiring vet techs the skills necessary to succeed in these professions. For anyone looking for the knowledge and a degree that’s transferrable to another American state, it may be wise to pursue this course of action.
|Veterinary Career||Connecticut Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Connecticut Vet Tech Certification
As mentioned in the introduction, there is no formal credentialing body for veterinary technicians in Connecticut, although there have been proposals according to public minutes of meetings of the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine. In 2002, House Bill No. 5590 was proposed which would establish a formal certification body in this occupation. As of March 2016, there is still no public website for the Connecticut Association of Veterinary Technicians. Also, there is no mention of veterinary technicians in the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine’s Practice Act.
Connecticut does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified, licensed, or registered, but to get a vet tech job in most states, candidates must qualify for professional credentialing. Therefore, graduating from a program accredited by the aforementioned Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) and taking the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—the main national credentialing exam in this occupation offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)—may be advisable, particularly for those candidates interested in being employable in other states.
The VTNE costs $310 per application and is offered during three month-long test windows annually. The exam covers nine domains of knowledge:
- Pharmacy & pharmacology
- Surgical nursing
- Laboratory procedures
- Animal care & nursing
- Diagnostic imaging
- Emergency medicine & critical care
- Pain management & analgesia
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
For those looking to attend a vet tech program in CT, be advised to seek out programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a program-approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). CVTEA evaluates programs according to their admissions procedures, institutional accreditation, quality of physical facilities & equipment, resources available for instruction, student outcomes (i.e., VTNE first-time passing rates), and comprehensiveness of curricula. To learn more about how programs are accredited, please visit CVTEA.
|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||N/A||No||No||Connecticut does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified, licensed, or registered. At least two years of education in a vet tech program is generally a requirement for most employers. Taking the VTNE upon graduation may still be advisable for those candidates interested in being employable in other states.||Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association|