Veterinary Technician Schools in Illinois


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 May 2023) reports that 4,450 veterinary technologists and technicians are working in the Prairie State.

Furthermore, the number of openings nationwide is expected to swell 21 percent between 2022 and 2032, resulting in 25,200 new jobs each year nationally—much more robust than the 3 percent growth projected for all occupations during that time period (BLS 2023).

Read on to discover accredited vet tech schools in Illinois, and to learn more about the employment climate, certification information, and what it takes to become a vet tech in the state.

List of AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Illinois

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Black Hawk College 26230 Black Hawk Road, Galva, Illinois, 61434NoYes
Joliet Junior College 1215 Houbolt Rd, Joliet, Illinois, 60431NoYes
Parkland College 2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, Illinois, 61821NoYes
Rockford Career College 1130 South Alpine Road, Rockford, Illinois, 61108NoYes
Vet Tech Institute at Fox College 18020 Oak Park Ave, Tinley Park, Illinois, 60477NoYes

School Details

The first step to becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Illinois is graduating from an accredited program. The main accrediting body is the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), which operates through the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This organization uses criteria such as comprehensiveness of curriculum, quality of program facilities, and student outcomes to gauge the effectiveness of a vet tech school.

As of April 2024, there are five AVMA-accredited programs in Illinois. Here is an overview of these vet tech schools offering associate of applied science (AAS) degrees for aspiring veterinary technicians:

Black Hawk College

Black Hawk College offers an associate in applied science degree in veterinary technology, preparing students to perform veterinary procedures under the supervision of veterinarians. The VTNE pass rate for this program, from 2020 to 2023, is 67 percent.

Made up of 80 credits, the program includes courses such as vet tech anatomy & physiology; small animal health care; microbiology & parasitology; vet tech pharmacology; anesthesia & surgical prep; vet ethics & critical thinking; vet tech diagnostic imaging; large animal health care; vet tech surgery & nursing; and veterinary office practices.

  • Location: Moline, IL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Joliet Junior College

Joliet Junior College—located in the third highest employing region for vet techs in the nation—boasted an impressive 72.39 percent first-time pass rate among its graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) between 2020 and 2023.

This is a two-year, 68-semester-hour program. Courses include small animal nursing; animal care; clinical pathology; laboratory animals; veterinary anatomy and physiology; exotic animal and wildlife management; and more. Also, students are expected to complete two supervised externships in nearby animal clinics and facilities to receive hands-on instruction in the fundamentals of the profession. Students have the option of choosing day or evening courses and some courses are offered online or in a hybrid format.

Notably, the college also offers an 11-semester hour veterinary technician assistant certificate of completion that includes a 100-hour clinical externship experience. Courses in the certificate include veterinary medical terminology; animal care & management; veterinary nursing & surgical assisting; and a practicum.

  • Location: Joliet, IL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Parkland College

Parkland College of Champaign offers a veterinary technology program, which had an astonding 94.37 percent first-time VTNE pass rate among its graduates between 2020 and 2023.

Comprising 62 credits, the program includes courses such as small animal nursing; diagnostic imaging; animal management; 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 before graduation.

  • Location: Champaign, IL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Rockford Career College

Rockford Career College has an online video tour of its veterinary technician program to give prospective students a flavor of 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 and disease; husbandry and disease; pharmacology; principles of anesthesia; radiology; and more. The program consists of 114.5 credits.

General education requirements are delivered in an online format. There are several 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 laboratory has blood work, radiographic, and other types of commonly used veterinary equipment. Rockford vet tech graduates have a VTNE first-time pass rate of 58.14 percent (2020-2023).

  • Location: Rockford, IL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Vet Tech Institute at Fox College

The Vet Tech Institute at 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; radiography; animal anatomy & physiology; and more. In addition, there is a VTNE preparation course, as well as a veterinary externship. The program comprises 72 credits.

Between 2020 and 2023, 60.3 percent of its 248 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 caretaking and sanitation competencies through mandatory kennel duty during the program.

  • Location: Tinley Park, IL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months

Students interested in online vet tech programs can visit our online veterinary technician schools page.

How to Become a Certified 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:

Step 1: Graduate from high school (four years). 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 the extra experience that can enhance an applicant’s application to a veterinary technician school.

Step 2: Enroll in a two- or four-year accredited veterinary technician program (two to four years). To qualify for certification in 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 (AAS) programs, which typically take two years to complete. Still, some students may choose to pursue a four-year degree elsewhere. These programs offer animal anatomy, nutrition, and clinical parasitology courses.

According to CareerOneStop (2024)—a data organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor—33 percent of vet techs nationally have associate degrees and 22 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.

Step 3: 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. The exam is offered during three one-month windows per year. Please note that students may register for this exam up to six months prior to graduation from an approved vet tech school.

Step 4: 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.

Step 5: Renew certification (every two 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

The future looks very strong for veterinary technicians in Illinois. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023) predicted that openings in this profession will grow 21 percent between 2022 and 2032, much faster than the average projected for all occupations (3 percent). With this growth in new jobs, the field of veterinary technology is strong nationally and in Illinois. According to ProjectionsCentral (2021), the anticipated growth rate for vet techs in the state between 2020 and 2030 is 15.3 percent.

For those who graduate from one of the accredited vet tech schools in Illinois, there are employment opportunities across various environments, including animal hospitals, small clinics, zoos, universities, biomedical research facilities, farms, and more. According to Indeed (April 2024), vet techs can find jobs in Illinois at places like the Ark Animal Hospital of Edwardsville, Loyal Companions, Veterinary Specialty Center, MedVet, and Pine Bluff Animal Hospital.

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) provides many 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
  • Laboratories
  • Biomedical research facilities
  • Private veterinary practices for large and small animals
  • Shelters
  • Colleges of veterinary medicine
  • Wildlife facilities
  • Zoos

Vet Tech Salaries in Illinois – How Much Do They Make?

In addition to a strong occupational outlook, Illinois boasts higher salaries than the national average. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS May 2023), the 122,000 vet techs across the nation earned an average annual salary of $44,040. In comparison, the 4,450 vet techs working in Illinois earned $44,670 per year, surpassing the national average.

The following chart illustrates earning potential for vet techs in Illinois at various earning percentiles, compared to national figures:

United States Illinois
Number of vet techs employed 122,000 4,450
Average annual salary $44,040 $44,670
10th percentile $30,180 $31,770
25th percentile $36,340 $37,070
50th percentile (median) $43,740 $46,140
75th percentile $48,900 $49,340
90th percentile $59,310 $60,470

When considering earning potential, the cost of living is a key piece of the puzzle. Vet Techs in IL fared much better than people in this industry nationwide. What makes this salary point particularly interesting is the fact that Illinois is one of the cheaper states to live in across the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2023) found that the Prairie State was the 16th most affordable state, with below-average costs for everything except for transportation.

VET TECH 4,450 $31,770 $46,140 $60,470
VET ASSISTANT 4,000 $29,160 $36,030 $50,950

Accreditation and Certifications for Illinois Vet Techs

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 taking 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 for 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).

Jocelyn Blore (Chief Content Strategist)

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as an English teacher and freelance writer. After stints in England, Japan, and Brazil, she settled in San Francisco and worked as a managing editor for a tech company. When not writing about veterinary technology, nursing, engineering, and other career fields, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor.