Luckily for animal-lovers in the Sunshine State, there’s an abundance of accredited veterinary technician (vet tech) schools in Florida (FL). According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—the primary certifying body for veterinary colleges in the nation—there are eight quality, accredited programs for prospective vet techs, including a distance education option, offered by seven institutions of higher learning. Two schools of note include the scenic Miami-Dade College whose student reporters filmed an episode covering the essentials of the veterinary technology program (a video that’s available on iTunes); and Eastern Florida State College which provides hands-on instruction with furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned patients through its on-campus veterinary center and externships in clinics nearby the main campus.
Not only are there a plurality of AVMA-accredited programs in Florida, but the state also offers one of the most favorable employment climates in the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reports that FL employs 8,070 vet techs, the third most of all states in the U.S. Since the BLS (2017) predicts that openings for this occupation will swell 20 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026, this may equate to 1,614 new openings in FL by 2026.
Read on to learn about how to become a vet tech in Florida, what programs are available, what the detailed job outlook is for the state, and professional licensing information.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Florida
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|City College-Gainesville||7001 NW 4th Blvd, Gainesville, Florida, 32607||No||Yes|
|City College-Hollywood||6565 Taft St. Suite 200, Hollywood, Florida, 33024||No||Yes|
|Eastern Florida State College (formerly Brevard Community College)||1519 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, Florida, 32922||No||Yes|
|Florida A&M University||4259 Bainbridge Highway, Quincy, Florida, 32352||No||Yes|
|Hillsborough Community College||1206 N Park Road, Plant City, Florida, 33563||No||Yes|
|Miami Dade College-Medical Center Campus||950 NW 20th Street, Miami, Florida, 33132-2297||No||Yes|
|Pensacola State College||1000 College Blvd, Pensacola, Florida, 32504||No||Yes|
|St Petersburg College||12376 Ulmerton Road, Largo, Florida, 33774||Yes||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Florida
With eight vet tech programs in Florida accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), students have a wealth of options. Following is a list in alphabetical order by school with some details about each program.
City College offers an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology at both their Hollywood and Gainesville campuses. The program encompasses 8 quarters of 11 weeks each, and students take 8 to 16 credits per quarter. Courses include anesthesia and surgery for veterinary nurses; veterinary dentistry; laboratory skills for veterinary technicians; animal nutrition; disease problems in companion animals; and more. Students complete 1,110 hours of lecture and lab in the classroom in addition to 300 hours of externship at an approved clinic. The total program consists of 101 credits.
Eastern Florida State College (formerly Brevard Community College) in Cocoa, FL, offers an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. Students complete at least two years of courses which include clinical practice under supervision both at the college and at external clinical sites. Courses include principles of nutrition for veterinary technicians; small animal diseases and pharmacology; large animal clinical and nursing skills; animal physiology; veterinary surgical nursing; emergency medicine for animals; and much more. The program is offered both full and part-time and there is a limit of 25 students accepted into the full-time program. The part-time program takes 3.5 years and begins each January. A maximum of 8 students are accepted into the part-time program each year. EFSC boasts a first-time pass rate on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) of 81% between 2014 and 2017.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) offers a four-year Veterinary Technology degree program which trains students to provide medical and non-medical support to veterinarians. The program emphasizes not only small animal medicine, but also large animal, food animal, and regulatory medicine. During the first two years of the program, students will concentrate on core science requirements. In the final two years, students will apply veterinary concepts at the FAMU Animal Health Complex in Quincy, Florida and at local clinics and animal facilities. The FAMU facility is located on 260 acres which houses cattle, horses, pigs, chickens and goats. In 2016 a new facility to house a new surgical suite, prep room, anatomy lab, and small animal holding was completed. Courses include veterinary medical terminology; animal anatomy; zoonotic diseases; microbiology; veterinary radiology for tech; animal disease and prevention; and many more. The FAMU Veterinary Technology Program has strong affiliations with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), state diagnostic labs, and other regulatory agencies, which provide opportunities for FAMU students to gain knowledge in alternative careers in veterinary medicine, and opportunities to complete externships at these sites. The FAMU Veterinary Technology program received initial accreditation from AVMA in October, 2013.
Hillsborough Community College of Plant City—just outside of Tampa—provides a two-year associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology that consists of 73 credit hours. The program is very hands-on and can be complete in two years (5 terms). Hillsborough prepares students for work in a variety of environments such as private clinics, humane societies, and biomedical research labs, among others. Its mission statement summarizes the program outcome goals which include offering superior instruction, innovative technology, and plenty of empirical, hands-on experience for its students to prepare them for their careers. Courses include general education credits as well as animal anatomy; animal physiology; large animal diseases; large animal clinical and nursing skills; medicine of laboratory animals; small animal nursing; small animal breeds and behavior; pharmacology for veterinary technicians; and more. Lab and work experience courses are abundant throughout the program experience. Hillsborough graduates have a 90% first-time pass rate on the VTNE–20% above the national average of 70% (2014-2017).
Miami-Dade College provides a scenic medical campus which hosts its six-semester associate of science (AS) program in veterinary technology. Students garner 400 hours of clinical exposure and enjoy comprehensive coursework in classes such as animal anatomy; large animal clinic and nursing skills; pharmacology for veterinary technicians; avian and exotic pet medicine; animal lab procedures; large animal diseases; small animal nursing; and several more. Some courses are available online and general education courses for the degree may be taken at the nearest Miami Dade College campus. Program specific courses for vet tech are then taken at their Medical Campus in Miami, FL. Miami-Dade College students have an incredibly high first-time pass rate on the VTNE of 94.8% (2015-2018).
Pensacola State College located in Pensacola, FL, offers an AS degree in veterinary technology. This is a two-year, full-time degree program and includes both classroom instruction as well as labs and experiences at a clinical work site. Students can choose a 3-year plan as well. The program begins in August each year and students must have completed various core courses prior to starting the program such as general zoology; principles of biology; English composition; and others. In addition, prior to entering the program students must have completed 30 hours of volunteer experience or observation at a veterinary clinic. Courses include canine and feline behavior; large animal medicine; small animal clinical procedures; radiography; avian, exotic, small mammals and fish; veterinary emergency medicine; and others. Graduates from Pensacola State College have an average first-time pass rate on the VTNE of 71% between 2014 and 2017.
For students who cannot or do not wish to attend an on-campus program, St. Petersburg College (SPC) in Largo, Florida offers an online associate in science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. The program is also offered on-campus. Before entering the program students must complete at least 18 credits of general education courses outlined by the college such as courses in communications, social and behavioral sciences, humanities and fine arts, and others. In addition students must complete 40 hours of observation in a neterinary clinic prior to entering the program. Classes include small animal breeds and behavior; animal physiology; animal nursing; avian and exotic pet medicine; introduction to dental techniques; and much more. This program begins in August, January, and May each year and students are expected to work 20 hours weekly in an approved veterinary setting to fulfill clinical requirements. Notably, of the graduates of this 73-credit program, 76.2 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2014 and 2017.
How to Become a Vet Tech in Florida
Here are common steps to become a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Florida:
- Step 1: Graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA is the main accrediting agency for vet tech schools across the nation. It weighs factors such as quality of facilities, student outcomes, and comprehensiveness of curricula. This process ensures a consistency of educational standards across the nation and graduating from one of these approved programs is a prerequisite to taking the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
- Step 2: Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This examination, while optional for aspiring vet techs in Florida, is essential for these healthcare professionals who are seeking certification. It’s also advisable for people who may move to another state where licensure—and thus passing the examination—is required for practice. There is no state exam in FL as of March 2015.
- Step 3: Get certified through the Florida Veterinary Medical Association (FVMA) or the Florida Veterinary Technician Association (FVTA). While this licensure is not essential for practice, as mentioned above, it may be advisable for several reasons. First, being a certified professional can indicate a certain standard of performance to future employers. Also, for people who may relocate to other states in the future, having a preexisting certification can make a transfer of employment or licensure less complicated.
Please note that CVTs need to renew their licenses every two years in FL on December 31st of odd-numbered years. This requires an application and 15 hours of continued education (CE).
Strong Outlook for Vet Tech Jobs in Florida
Florida has one of the strongest employment climates in the nation for aspiring veterinary technicians. The Sunshine State boasts the third highest number of veterinary techs currently employed at 8,070 total (BLS 2017). Furthermore, the BLS (2017) anticipates a steady increase in openings for vet techs in FL and across the country. As mentioned above, there is a 20 percent increase in vet tech positions expected between 2016 and 2026 — approximately 20,400 new jobs nationally, with many expected in FL.
So what are the top-employing regions in the state? Here is a list of the top five with number of vet techs currently employed (BLS 2017):
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL: 1,280
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL: 1,070
- Jacksonville, FL: 880
- West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, FL Metropolitan Division: 820
- Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division: 530 vet techs
Not only does Florida have a thriving employment landscape for prospective vet techs, but it also on average boasts many regions which pay more than what’s expected nationally for vet techs. Here is a breakdown of the average annual salaries nationally for vet techs (BLS 2017):
- 10th percentile: $21,920
- 50th percentile: $30,770
- 90th percentile: $42,550
By comparison, here is a list of top-paying regions for vet techs in FL with the average (mean) annual salaries (BLS 2017):
- Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL: $43,520
- South Florida nonmetropolitan area: $42,240
- Ocala, FL: $38,510
- West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL Metropolitan Division: $37,290
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL: $36,900
- Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL Metropolitan Division: $36,340
In addition to a favorable employment outlook, the state of Florida offers professional networking and support for vet techs as well. The Florida Veterinary Technician Association (FVTA) is a non-profit organization established in 1975 that certifies vet techs and has a wealth of resources including job postings, continued education (CE) opportunities, volunteer groups, and a quarterly newsletter.
Here is a summary of salary data for vet techs and assistants in FL:
|Veterinary Career||Florida Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
School Accreditation and Certification for Veterinary Technicians in Florida
To become a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Florida, one needs to graduate from a training program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technicians Education and Activities (AVMA CVTEA). This organization weighs criteria such as school facilities, quality of instruction, and student outcomes (e.g., first-time pass rate on the Veterinary Technician National Exam [VTNE], job placements). Graduating from a AVMA-accredited school is also a prerequisite to sit for the VTNE.
Aspiring veterinary technicians are also encouraged to seek certification through the Florida Veterinary Medical Association (FVMA) or the Florida Veterinary Technician Association (FVTA). While being certified is not essential to practice in the state of Florida, it may help people secure employment and higher pay, as well as setting a vet tech up for licensure by reciprocity if (s)he relocates to another state. The application for new certified vet techs (CVTs) must be completed within six months of passing the VTNE. The requirements include:
- Submit a completed application
- Pay a $75 fee
Please note that these certifications must be renewed every two years (on December 31st of odd-numbered years). This process involves the completion of 15 hours of continued education (CU) credit. Vet techs can find CU opportunities through the FVTA as well as through NAVTA.
In sum, the educational and employment landscapes are favorable for aspiring vet techs in Florida.
|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||CVT||Yes||Yes||As of March 2015, Florida’s practical exam for CVTs has been suspended for review. Although becoming certified isn’t required for practice as it is not regulated by the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine, it may be advisable for those seeking to be employable in other states with reciprocity.||Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine|