Question: Was Abraham Lincoln an animal-lover?
Answer: Of course he was! According to Mr. Lincoln’s White House—a research-backed collection of anecdotes about the most famous American president to hail from Illinois—Lincoln not only loved cats, but he also owned two dogs (Jip and Fido) as well as two goats (Nanny and Nanko).
Luckily for animal-lovers in the Land of Lincoln, there are a number of quality, accredited vet tech schools in the state, and a promising job market to boot. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reports that there are currently 4,000 veterinary technologists and technicians working in the Prairie State. Furthermore, the number of openings nationwide is expected to swell 20 percent between 2016 and 2026 resulting in 20,400 new jobs nationally, much more robust than the 7 percent growth projected for all occupations during that time period (BLS 2017). Finally, Illinois also boasts the metropolitan region with the second highest employment of vet techs in the nation. The Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights region holds this distinction by employing 2,180 of these animal healthcare professionals (BLS 2017).
Read on to discover accredited vet tech schools in Illinois, and to learn more about the employment climate, certification information, and what it takes become a vet tech in the state.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Illinois
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Joliet Junior College||1215 Houbolt Rd, Joliet, Illinois, 60431-8938||No||Yes|
|Parkland College||2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, Illinois, 61821-1899||No||Yes|
|Rockford Career College||1130 South Alpine Road, Rockford, Illinois, 61108||No||Yes|
|Vatterott College-Fairview Heights||110 Commerce Ln, Fairview Heights, Illinois, 62208||No||Yes|
|Vet Tech Institute at Fox College||6640 S. Cicero, Bedford Park, Illinois, 60638||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Illinois
The first step to becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Illinois is graduating from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This organization uses criteria such as comprehensiveness of curriculum, quality of program facilities, and student outcomes in order to gauge the effectiveness of a vet tech school. There are currently five AVMA-accredited programs in Illinois. Here is an overview of these vet tech schools offering associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degrees for aspiring veterinary technicians:
Joliet Junior College—located in the second highest employing region for vet techs in the nation—boasted an astounding 96.5 percent first-time pass rate among its graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) between 2015 and 2018. This is a two-year, 72 semester hour program, designed for 48 full-time students. Courses include small animal nursing; animal care; clinical pathology; laboratory animals; surgery technology; exotic animal and wildlife management; and more. Also, students are expected to complete two supervised externships in nearby animal clinics and facilities in order to receive hands-on instruction in the fundamentals of the profession. These clinical care courses provide at least 720 hours of clinical experience. Students have the option of choosing day or evening courses and some courses are offered online or in a hybrid format.
Parkland College of Champaign offers a veterinary technology program which had an impressive 94.2 percent first-time VTNE pass rate among its graduates between 2014 and 2017. Courses include small animal nursing; radiography; management skills for the veterinary technician; large animal nursing; surgery technology; common veterinary drugs; and more. Students complete several lab courses as well as a full-time clinical practicum at a veterinary clinical site approved by the program director. Parkland’s selective program ensures that each of its students meets a rigorous list of technical abilities prior to graduation.
Rockford Career College has an online video tour of its veterinary technician program to give prospective students a flavor for the environment. This two-year associate of applied sciences degree in veterinary technology offers courses such as animal clinical procedures; large animal medical techniques; veterinary anatomy systems and functions; clinical pathology; principles of surgery; husbandry & disease, large animals; husbandry & disease, small animals; and more. There are a number of rabbits, rats, and cats that live on-site for students to practice handling, many of which are adopted at the end of school terms. The school works mainly with animals from rescue and humane societies—120 to 150 animals every 10 weeks— and the the laboratory has blood-work, radiographic, and other types of commonly used veterinary equipment. Rockford vet tech graduates have an excellent VTNE first-time pass rate of 91.3% (2014-2017).
The Fox College, located southwest of Chicago, offers an 18-month veterinary technology AAS degree at their Tinley Park campus. Courses include clinical medicine; veterinary pharmacology; anesthesia; large animal theory; surgical nursing; radiology; veterinary office procedures; and more. In addition there is a VTNE preparation course, as well as a veterinary externship. Between 2014 and 2017, 68.8 percent of its 301 graduates passed the VTNE on the first attempt. In addition to coursework, Fox College maintains an on-site kennel with dogs, cats, and rodents to help students develop care-taking and sanitation competencies through mandatory kennel duty during the program.
Finally, Vatterott College-Fairview Heights offers a veterinary technician AAS degree. The program consists of 90 weeks and 94 quarter credit hours of classroom instruction and labs, and 24 quarter credit hours of general education courses. Students can begin the program every 10 weeks. Courses for this program include veterinary law and ethics; radiology; shelter management; parasitology; animal disease and control; anesthesiology and surgical procedures; animal nursing; and more. The program also includes a career skills course and students complete a veterinary externship at the end of the program. VTNE first-time pass rates were not available for Vatterott.
There are also five non-accredited programs available in Illinois. Non-accredited programs may be in the accreditation process or may not want to seek accreditation. Regardless this does not necessarily mean they are not quality programs. The following five institutions offer an AAS degree in veterinary technology through the Southern Illinois Collegiate Common Market (SICCM). Students take GE courses on their home campus, and vet tech courses in a central classroom on the SICCM campus. Although their website claims they are accredited by the AVMA, that site has no record of their accreditation. All of the following schools link to the Shawnee Community College vet tech page:
- John A. Logan College: Carterville, IL
- Kaskaskia College: Centralia, IL
- Shawnee Community College: Ullin, IL
- Southeastern Illinois College: Harrisburg, IL
- Rend Lake College: Ina, IL
Students interested in online vet tech programs can visit our online veterinary technician schools page.
How to Become a Veterinary Technician in Illinois
For current and aspiring residents of Illinois, it is necessary to have certification to practice as a veterinary technician in the state. Here is one possible path to joining this high-growth career:
- Graduate from high school. Successful veterinary technicians typically have competitive scores in subjects such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy due to the scientific nature of the field. Some students choose to volunteer in animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and laboratories for extra experience which can enhance an applicant’s application to a veterinary technician school.
- Enroll in a two- or four-year accredited veterinary technician program (2-4 years). To qualify for certification in the state of Illinois, vet techs must graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are currently five AVMA-accredited associate of applied science (A.A.S.) programs which typically take two years to complete, but some students may choose to pursue a four-year degree elsewhere. These programs offer courses such as animal anatomy, nutrition, and clinical parasitology. According to CareerOneStop (2018)—a data organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor—22 percent of vet techs nationally have associate’s degrees and 18 percent hold bachelor’s degrees. For those interested in increased job responsibilities and possibly higher pay, more advanced degrees and specialized courses may be recommended.
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). The VTNE is a prerequisite for vet tech certification in Illinois and tests a student’s knowledge in nine primary domains including pharmacology, animal dentistry, diagnostic imaging, and surgical nursing.
- Apply for certification through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. In addition to completing an online application, aspiring certified veterinary technicians (CVTs) must send their official transcripts from an AVMA-accredited program, VTNE scores, and an application fee.
- Renew certification (every 2 years). To maintain active certification in Illinois, CVTs must renew their licenses every two years by January 31st on odd-numbered years. Active CVTs must also complete 15 hours of continued education (CE) as part of the renewal process.
Growing Demand for Vet Techs in Illinois
For graduates of accredited veterinary technician programs in Illinois, there is an abundance of opportunities available. As stated above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) estimates that there are currently 4,040 of these animal healthcare professionals employed in the state, and this figure is expected to grow 20 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026. So which areas of the state offer the most opportunities for veterinary technicians? Impressively, a wealth of job openings are concentrated around the Chicago region making it the second-highest employing municipal area in the nation for veterinary technicians and technologists.
Here are the top-employing areas of Illinois (BLS 2017):
- Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division: 2,180 employed
- St. Louis, MO-IL: 1,060
- Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan Division: 430
- Champaign-Urbana, IL: 240
- Peoria, IL: 170
Not only does Illinois boast one of the top-employing regions in the nation, but is has a number of areas that pay more annually than national averages for this profession as well. According to the BLS (2017), vet techs around the country make an average annual salary of $34,710. By comparison, West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area boasts an annual average salary of over $15,000 more than the national average annual salary, a difference of about 31%. Here are the top-paying regions of Illinois listed with the mean annual salaries:
- West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area: $50,380
- Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division: $36,940
- Champaign-Urbana, IL: $36,700
- Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan Division: $34,710
The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) provides a number of resources to working vet techs in the state including a technician conference, professional networking, resource boards, specialized seminars and meetings (e.g., animal dentistry, behavior, infectious diseases), job postings, and useful information for pet owners.
Finally, certified veterinary technicians (CVTs) in Illinois may apply for positions in a variety of work environments including:
- Humane societies
- Biomedical research facilities
- Private veterinary practices for large and small animals
- Colleges of veterinary medicine
- Wildlife facilities
|Veterinary Career||Illinois Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Accreditation and Certification for Vet Techs in Illinois
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides accreditation to veterinary technician and technology programs across the U.S. The AVMA weighs criteria such as program finances, student outcomes, quality of facilities, and rigorousness of program curricula to determine accreditation status. Please note that graduating from an AVMA-accredited program is a prerequisite to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and is therefore necessary to pursue licensure in nearly every state in the country.
Proper certification is required for all who want to practice as veterinary technicians and technologists in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees the process and provides all of the forms and instructions through its website. Here are the requirements to becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Illinois:
- Submit an application
- Pay a certification fee
- Send official transcripts from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- Send test scores from the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
Please note that these certifications expire on January 31st of every odd-numbered year and must be renewed following the completion of 15 hours of continued education (CE).
|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||CVT||Yes||Yes||Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association|