Veterinary Technician Schools in Hawaii


Despite the fact that the Aloha State is one of the smaller land masses in the country, animal welfare is a priority in Hawaii. For example, in 2020, the 136-year old Hawaiian Humane Society worked with the Honolulu City Council to pass the first advancement to Oahu’s animal welfare laws in more than 25 years. The bill overarchingly encourages responsible pet ownership and greater freedom to respond to the needs of rescued animals by mandating microchipping to improve return-to-owner rates, accelerating the rate at which rescue staff can address pet health needs through shorter mandatory hold times, and increases the daily hold fee to rates that reflect the current market.

Hawaiians interested in contributing to the health and well being of furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures can consider becoming a part of the veterinary technician profession and community. As with other states, animal-loving Hawaiians are encouraged to graduate from a two-to-four year program in veterinary technology accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program-approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This may qualify a candidate to take the predominant national certification test in this field: the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).

While those without formal training are legally able to perform the same tasks as a veterinary technician in Hawaii, only those who have passed the VTNE and registered with the state can apply to positions using the title “Registered Veterinary Technician.” As of 2021, the state eliminated experience as a qualifier to become a vet tech, so formal training and/or transfer of license from another state is now the only way to become an RVT in Hawaii.

According to O*NET (2021), aspiring vet techs learn many skills in accredited college programs such as how to restrain animals during routine exams and vaccinations; maintain veterinary medical records; provide assistance for licensed veterinarians with common procedures (e.g., dentistry, surgery, radiology, anesthesia); monitor the status of animals; maintain the sterility of facilities and equipment; keep inventory of supplies; prepare and process laboratory samples; take vital signs of vet patients; and educate animal-owners about proper care. Except for in cases of emergencies, vet techs perform these tasks under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Read on to discover the bright career outlook in veterinary technology in Hawaii, as well as to learn about the salary prospects, accredited vet tech programs, and upcoming credentialing procedures.

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Windward Community College 45-720 Keaahala Rd, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 96744-3598Yes (hybrid)Yes

Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Hawaii

Aspiring vet techs in Hawaii seeking official RVT status will need to seek out vet tech programs accredited Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

To qualify for an accredited vet tech program, applicants typically need to send their official high school transcripts; show proof of prerequisite coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, English, algebra, etc); offer copies of immunization records and/or health insurance; write a personal statement (500-600 words); and pay an application fee. Although test scores such as the SAT or ACT are not generally required, candidates whose second language is English may be required to submit TOEFL scores. Additionally, applicants may find it advantageous to have experience working with animals.

The sole CVTEA-accredited program in Hawaii is available at Windward Community College of Kaneohe, which offers an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology in a full-time two-year on-campus or part-time three-year hybrid format. Both 73-credit programs are designed to train vet techs in 200 different skill sets as determined essential by the AVMA.

In both programs, students complete an initial certificate of achievement in veterinary assisting (VETA) in the beginning of the program. Once the VETA requirement is completed, students go through a competitive application process to be accepted into the associate in science in veterinary technology (VETT) program.

Courses for the VETT include anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; exotic and laboratory animal procedures; applied pharmacology; clinical lab techniques; anesthesia and surgical nursing techniques; companion animal nursing and nutrition; and more. There is also a course designed to review for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).

Students enrolled in the full time, on-campus program will attend classes Monday through Friday, and participate in a mixture of classroom instruction, hands-on lab courses, and practical experiences with live animals in a lab setting. The hybrid program is designed to enable students currently working at veterinary facilities in Hawaii to learn while they work. Hybrid students take didactic coursework in an online format, and are expected to lab work on campus.

Hybrid students working on O’ahu will be expected to attend weekly lab courses on campus while those living on neighbor islands are expected to come to campus two to three times per semester for all-day lab intensives. Total tuition for residents as of fall 2020 was $9,518. 80 percent of Windward graduates passed the VTNE on their first try between 2017 and 2020.

Online Vet Tech Programs for Students in Hawaii

Luckily for residents of the Aloha State, there are also eight CVTEA-accredited, distance-based vet tech programs. These programs typically involve a combination of rigorous online coursework and clinical intensives to be completed at qualifying animal healthcare facilities near a student’s home. Hawaiians seeking this option are advised to ensure that there aren’t any “state authorization” restrictions (i.e., laws which limit the ability of certain states to provide online education to students residing in other states).

Penn Foster offers an online associate degree in veterinary technology wherein students learn the fundamentals of the discipline with courses such as: animal anatomy and physiology; veterinary office management and skill with people; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; medical mathematics; clinical pathology; clinical parasitology; radiography; and small and large animal medicine. Between 2017 and 2020, 71 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.

The prestigious Purdue University of Indiana also provides a part-time, distance-based associate program in veterinary technology. This online associate of applied science (AAS) comprises 35 classes such as anatomy; physiology; pharmacy procedures; diagnostic imaging; animal agriculture; small animal nursing; microbiology for vet techs; and management topics; as well as 17 corresponding clinical mentorships. This program typically takes five years to complete.

Notably, 95.2 percent of the distance-based program graduates between 2017 and 2020 passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Purdue University also offers an on-campus associate and bachelor’s program which boast a 87.7 percent VTNE first-time pass rate.

To discover the array of programs with web-based coursework, check out the online veterinary technology schools page.

Job Outlook for Vet Techs in Hawaii

The job outlook in veterinary technology in the US is expected to be promising in the coming decade. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) reported that there’s expected to be a 16 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2019 and 2029, much more robust than the average growth predicted across all occupations during that time period (4 percent). This equates to 18,300 fresh positions in this field across the country.

There’s some evidence that the projected growth in vet tech opportunities may be slightly lower in Hawaii, but still well above the national average for all jobs. CareerOneStop (2021)—a data organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—reported that there’s expected to be a 15 percent increase in vet tech positions in HI between 2018 and 2028. For Hawaiians with associate degrees, the vet tech occupation is predicted to have the fourth-largest rate of growth in the state.

Vet techs may seek employment at a variety of places including veterinary clinics, hospitals, farms, aquariums, humane centers, kennels, zoos, shelters, universities, rescue organizations, government regulatory institutions, laboratories, wildlife sanctuaries, and other environments. Some of these professionals work normal business hours, while others may be called upon to work weekends, evenings, or holidays, dictated by the needs of their veterinary patients and emergency conditions.

Indeed (2021) posted jobs at places such as Haiku Veterinary Clinic, Island Veterinary Center, LLC., Keauhou Veterinary Hospital, VCA Animal Hospitals, and Maui Humane Society. iHireVeterinary (2021) had job openings at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Waikoloa Veterinary Service, Ethos Veterinary Health, and the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. There are ample opportunities for qualified vet techs across the Hawaiian islands in a variety of settings.

Vet techs who find they have a passion for a certain subfield of the animal medicine world may also choose to become a veterinary technician specialist in the years following graduation from their initial associate’s or bachelor’s level program.

According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2021), there’s a wealth of academies and societies—some which provide specialized certification—in areas including dermatology, anesthesia, animal behavior, clinical pathology, nutrition, equine nursing, and zoological medicine. To qualify for specialized credentialing as a VTS, applicants typically need 1,000 hours of experience in their subfield, letters of recommendation, proper training, and a passing score on an exam. While not a guarantee, pursuing a VTS may open a tech to a greater number of jobs and higher salaries than those without specialization.

An aspiring VTS can learn more about specialization options by visiting the main vet tech careers page.

Hawaii Vet Tech Salary

How much a veterinary technician has the possibility to earn depends greatly on factors including experience, location, specialization, and more. To create a frame of reference, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, May 2020), found that the 109,490 vet techs employed in the U.S. in 2020 made an average annual wage of $37,860. The following chart shows how vet tech’s earning in Hawaii compare to national averages in a range of earning percentiles:

United States Hawaii
Number of vet techs employed 109,490 210
Average annual salary $37,860 $38,580
10th percentile $25,520 $27,240
25th percentile $30,030 $32,670
50th percentile (median) $36,260 $37,370
75th percentile $43,890 $43,260
90th percentile $52,410 $51,610

When looking at salaries, it’s important to take cost of living into consideration. While it is true that vet tech salaries in Hawaii are higher than national averages, this is most likely due to the reality that Hawaii has the highest cost of living out of any state in the U.S.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021), every measure of cost of living is higher than elsewhere in the country, with specific costliness in terms of housing and utilities. The higher vet tech salaries help vet techs to cope with the higher cost of living in the state.

Veterinary Career Hawaii Jobs Salary Data (BLS 2020)
Low Salary (10th %ile) Median Salary (50th %ile) High Salary (90th %ile)
Vet Tech 210 $27,240 $37,370 $51,610
Vet Assistant 420 $24,290 $33,600 $42,610

Vet Tech Program Accreditation

The main programmatic accreditation organization for vet tech schools nationwide is the aforementioned Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVTEA evaluates a number of factors in its program-approval process, including:

  • Organizational effectiveness
  • Quality of facilities & program staff
  • School & program finance management
  • Availability of libraries & student resources
  • Admissions criteria
  • Curriculum comprehensiveness
  • Student outcomes (e.g., graduate VTNE pass-rates)

To examine the full criteria for vet tech program approval, check out the CVTEA site.

Becca Brewer, MEd (Writer)

Becca Brewer is building a better future on a thriving earth by healing herself into wholeness, divesting from separation, and walking the path of the loving heart. Previously to her journey as an adventurer for a just, meaningful, and regenerative world, Becca was a formally trained sexuality educator with a master of education.