Despite the fact that the Aloha State is one of the smaller landmasses in the country, there’s a wealth of resources for people interested in animal welfare. In fact, the Hawaiian Humane Society provides a detailed quarterly newsletter and a list of groups across Oahu and beyond, including Equine 808, Hawaii Happy Cats, K-9 Kokoa, and Tails of Aloha. The HHS also received a $2 million gift from Ginny Tiu in 2016, a longtime animal-lover for whom a new animal rescue foundation will be named.
One way for Hawaiians to become involved in advocacy for furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures is to become a veterinary technician. The Hawaii Veterinary Technician Association (HVTA) is a non-profit organization which educates the public, facilitates relations between all personnel in vet offices, and provides advocacy for the profession. Impressively, Hawaii is 100 percent rabies-free and boasts strict laws about the importation of animals from the mainland. It’s important to note that effective July 1, 2018, this state requires vet techs to complete registration and become registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) in order to practice, effective July 1, 2018.
With this in mind, how do residents of the Hawaii prepare for this career? 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).
According to O*NET (2016), 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. It’s important to note that the scope of practice in this profession varies by state, and Hawaii has relatively generous privileges of practice for vet techs. By illustration, the AVMA (2017) reports that there are no restrictions specified for the practice of veterinary technology in the state, and particularly in emergency conditions, these professionals may be able to provide a more advanced level of care than vet techs in more restrictive state practice environments.
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.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Hawaii
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Windward Community College||45-720 Keaahala Rd, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 96744-3598||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Hawaii
As mentioned in the introduction, aspiring vet techs in Hawaii are encouraged to seek out vet tech programs accredited Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Although there’s currently only one AVMA-accredited vet tech program in HI, this will likely change as the profession becomes increasingly regulated with the adoption of SB2671.
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. Students must first complete the certificate of achievement in veterinary assisting (VETA) in order to continue to the veterinary technology (VETT) program, as the certificate comprises the first year of the vet tech program. Students may apply to the VETT program during the Spring semester of the certificate program. Courses for the VETT include anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; exotic & laboratory animal procedures; applied pharmacology; clinical lab techniques; anesthesia & 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). This portion of the program combines classroom instruction with intensive practical experience in laboratory and clinical settings. The VETT program, which continues after the veterinary assisting certificate portion during the first 2 semesters, costs $12,793 for Hawaiian residents, and $28,415 for non-residents. Students are not guaranteed admission to the VETT portion as the program is competitive. Note that 79.6 percent of Windward’s vet tech program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2014 and 2017, almost 10% more than the national average. Windward Community College may also offer a hybrid veterinary assisting cohort on the island of Hawaii for the 2-semester VETA.
Online Vet Tech Programs 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 under 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).
One standout online vet tech program is available through Penn Foster College, which is based in Scottsdale, AZ and offers an associate degree in veterinary technology. Students learn the fundamentals of the discipline with courses such as animal anatomy & physiology; veterinary office management & skill with people; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; medical mathematics; clinical pathology; clinical parasitology; radiography; and small & large animal medicine. Between 2014 and 2017, 63.3 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, 88.5 percent of the distance-based program graduates between 2013 and 2016 passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Purdue University also offers an on-campus program which boasts a 100% VTNE first-time pass rate.
To discover the array of programs with web-based coursework, check out the online veterinary technology schools page.
Registration for Vet Techs in Hawaii
As mentioned above, a new state law requires registration for vet techs as of July, 2018. Aspiring vet techs in this state are therefore encouraged to enroll in two-to-four year veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Not only will this likely be a requirement for future registration of vet techs, but it will also prepare program graduates to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the predominant certification exam in this career field.
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 May, 2017) reported that there’s expected to be a 20 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2016 and 2026, much more robust than the average growth predicted across all occupations during that time period (7 percent). This equates to 20,400 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 (2018)—a data organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—reported that there’s expected to be a 16 percent increase in vet tech positions in HI between 2014 and 2024. Furthermore, it’s predicted to be the fifth fastest-growing occupation among associate degree graduates 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 (2018) posted jobs at places such as Ethos Veterinary Health, PetVet Animal Hospital, Haiku Veterinary Clinic, and Waipahu Waikele Pet Hospital, while iHireVeterinary (2018) had job openings at Honolulu Veterinary Clinic, Ethos Veterinary Health, and Central Maui Animal Clinic. In sum, there are ample opportunities for qualified vet techs across the Hawaiian islands.
Finally, some vet techs choose to specialize in a subfield of veterinary technology in order to enhance their employment or salary prospects. A qualifying candidate with specialized skills may become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016), 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. To learn in depth about the wealth of VTS options, visit the main vet tech careers page.
Hawaii Vet Tech Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2017), there were 103,430 vet techs working across the country. In detailed terms, the BLS found the following salary average and percentiles among these animal healthcare professionals:
United States (103,430 working vet techs): $33,280 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
In hourly terms, these figures equate to:
United States: $16.69/hour average
- 10th percentile: $11.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $13.19/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $16.06/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.17/hr.
- 90th percentile: $23.73/hr.
It’s worth noting that these figures vary by source of data. In fact, Payscale (July 2018)—a site which aggregates self-reported salary data—found the following among the 463 American vet tech respondents:
- 10th percentile: $20,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,887
- 75th percentile: $39,000
- 90th percentile: $47,000
A majority of the vet tech respondents chose to report their salaries in hourly terms. Among the 5,097 vet techs in this category, Payscale (July 2018) found the following percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.00/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.16/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16.00/hr.
- 90th percentile: $19.00/hr.
Interestingly, vet techs in Hawaii made slightly higher salaries than national averages. The BLS (May 2017) reported that there were 390 employed vet techs in the Aloha State with an annual average salary of $35,680. In more detailed terms, these Hawaiian animal healthcare specialists had the following percentiles:
Hawaii (390 working vet techs): $35,680 avg.
- 10th percentile: $26,340
- 25th percentile: $31,620
- 50th percentile (median): $35,720
- 75th percentile: $40,200
- 90th percentile: $46,970
In hourly figures, these Hawaiian vet techs received an average of $14.96/hr. and the percentiles translate to:
- 10th percentile: $12.66/hr.
- 25th percentile: $15.20/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $17.17/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.33/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.58/hr.
Not surprisingly, these figures also tended to vary by region of Hawaii. The BLS (May 2017) designates two regions in the state, and urban Honolulu boasted the highest salaries and highest employment in this profession:
Urban Honolulu, HI (280 vet techs employed): $36,040 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $26,150
- 25th percentile: $32,210
- 50th percentile (median): $36,140
- 75th percentile: $40,930
- 90th percentile: $47,400
Hawaii & Kauai Nonmetropolitan Area (80 vet techs employed): $33,790 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $26,060
- 25th percentile: $28,630
- 50th percentile (median): $33,090
- 75th percentile: $38,380
- 90th percentile: $44,220
In hourly terms, the BLS (May 2017) found the following among the two designated regions:
Urban Honolulu, HI: $17.33/hr. avg.
- 10th percentile: $12.57/hr.
- 25th percentile: $15.49/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $17.38/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.68/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.79/hr.
Hawaii & Kauai Nonmetropolitan Area: $16.25/hr. avg.
- 10th percentile: $12.53/hr.
- 25th percentile: $13.76/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $15.91/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.45/hr.
- 90th percentile: $21.26/hr.
Finally, the salaries of vet techs also vary based on one’s level of experience in the profession. Although there isn’t any reliable data for Hawaiian vet techs due to the small sample size, Payscale (2018) found the following figures which illustrate this trend:
- Entry-level: (0-5 years experience): $29,955 average annual salary
- Mid-career: (5-10 years): $32,479
- Experienced: (10-20 years): $36,227
- Late-career: (20+ years): $39,997
|Veterinary Career||Hawaii Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
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.
|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|
|Yes||RVTs||Yes||No||As of July, 2018, Hawaii requires its veterinary technicians to become registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) in order to practice. At least two years of education in a vet tech program is a requirement. Taking the VTNE upon graduation may still be advisable for those candidates interested in being employable in other states.||Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association|