For aspiring veterinary technicians, the Hawkeye State offers a wealth of opportunities in schooling, employment, and professional networking. For example, the Central Iowa Veterinary Technician Association (CIVTA) connects veterinary specialists from all over Iowa, providing informative newsletters, continuing education (CE) conferences, and fun prizes for participation at select events. Planned meetings for this association in 2016 include training in pet diabetes management, dermatological conditions, exotic animal husbandry, and various diseases. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc. (ARL) is another local organization which arranges pet adoptions, fostering, charity events, K-12 classroom programs, volunteering, and animal advocacy awareness. In addition to employing several licensed veterinarians and vet techs, the ARL has been involved in pushing for legislation regarding mandatory spaying & neutering of pets, making animal torture a felony, and prosecuting puppy mill perpetrators.
Veterinary technicians in Iowa and beyond are invaluable to animal health care. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs provide first aid to animals; collect and analyze laboratory specimens to diagnose conditions; monitor patient vital signs; maintain the cleanliness and sterilization of the healthcare environment; keep detailed medical records; help veterinarians with common procedures (e.g., dental, analgesic, surgical, radiologic, etc.); and educate pet owners on best care practices. The AVMA (2017) adds that these responsibilities vary by state. In Iowa the scope of practice is relatively broad. Vet techs may provide lifesaving treatments for animals under emergency conditions—including giving oxygen, maintaining airways, inserting endotracheal tubes and IV catheters, controlling hemorrhaging, and administering corticosteroids—even in the absence of a veterinarian. These animal healthcare professionals may work normal business hours, but may be called upon to work holidays, weekends, or evenings according to the needs of their furry, feathered, or scaly patients.
Keep reading to learn about the promising career outlook for vet techs in IA, as well as to discover accredited veterinary technician programs and how to become professionally credentialed.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Iowa
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Des Moines Area Community College||2006 Ankeny Blvd, Ankeny, Iowa, 50023-3993||No||Yes|
|Iowa Lakes Community College||300 S 18th St, Estherville, Iowa, 51334||No||Yes|
|Iowa Western Community College||2700 College Rd, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 51503-1057||No||Yes|
|Kirkwood Community College||6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 52406-2068||No||Yes|
|Muscatine Community College||152 Colorado Street, Muscatine, Iowa, 52761||No||Yes|
|Northeast Iowa Community College||1625 Hwy 150 South, Calmar, Iowa, 52132||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Iowa
For animal-loving residents of the Hawkeye State seeking to become veterinary technicians, there are currently six programs available which have been accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This is the gold standard for the approval of vet tech programs. To learn about how programs are accredited, please visit the accreditation section below.
To earn entry into an accredited vet tech program in IA, candidates typically need to submit the following:
- High school transcripts with proof of having completed specific classes (e.g., biology, algebra, English)
- An essay or personal statement
- Proof of health insurance and vaccinations
- A processing fee
Additionally, for applicants whose first language isn’t English, qualifying TOEFL scores may be required. Some of the more competitive programs may also ask for candidate interviews, experience working with animals, or letters of recommendation. Following is a breakdown of CVTEA-accredited programs offere in Iowa:
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) offers both didactic and hands-on training in veterinary technology as part of its 80-credit AAS degree program. Classes at DMACC include health science anatomy, microbiology, diagnostic imaging, veterinary pharmacology, pharmacy skills, veterinary nursing care, and clinical pathology. Also, students must enroll in a comprehensive internship at a locally approved site. At $147 per credit, this is one of the more economical options in the country. The school also has a scholarship offered through its Veterinary Technician Club. 68.75 percent of graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt between 2014 and 2017. This is a key determinant of program quality since it indicates how well a vet tech is prepared for the VTNE, a typical credentialing requirement in most states.
Iowa Lakes Community College offers a 77-credit AAS degree, which features courses such as small and large animal clinic observation; animal nutrition; vet clinic pathology; veterinary law and ethics; veterinary anesthesiology; and more. In addition students take employment seminar, a VTNE review and preparation course, and complete an internship.
Iowa Western Community College offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology that encompasses four semesters and one summer. Average class size is 16 students and the full-time only program begins in the fall. Courses include principles of veterinary technology; clinical pathology lab, veterinary pharmacology; kennel management and animal care; principles of sanitation; large animal care; avian, exotic and lab animal care; and more. Iowa Western veterinary technology students train in the new stat-of-the-art veterinary technology facility giving students a solid dose of hands-on practice by matriculation. The 2014 to 2017 VTNE first-time pass rate for IWCC is 79.1 percent.
Kirkwood Community College offers a two-year associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology through its Department of Agricultural Sciences. The program has classes such as veterinary medical terminology; leadership in agriculture; animal anatomy & physiology; animal behavior; large animal care; animal nursing; and more. Most impressively, Kirkwood boasts very high first-time passing rate among graduates on the VTNE. Kirkwood graduates first-time pass rate was 93.47% between 2014 and 2017. Please note that this school also requires the Compass Test and the TEAS V entrance examination with minimum scores in reading (70 percent), mathematics (70), science (60), English (65), and overall (66).
Muscatine Community College also offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology. Courses in this program are taught by experienced veterinarians and veterinary technicians who have a wealth of real-world knowledge in the industry. Prerequisites to the program include general biology and introduction to general chemistry. Courses include veterinary medical terminology; canine and feline behavior; veterinary clinic pathology; canine and feline nutrition; professional communication; diagnostic imaging; surgical nursing; and more. Students also complete an internship at the end of the program. The 3-year first-time pass rate on the VTNE for Muscatine graduates was 63% between 2014 and 2017.
Northeast Iowa Community College offers a large animal veterinary technician AAS degree in Calmar, IA. Students can begin this 72 credit program in summer, spring, or fall. The college’s dairy her is utilized, as well as a commercial companion animal hospital, to provide students with expreience with different species of animals. Students also complete internships to gain more hands-on experience. Courses include domestic animal physiology; large animal diagnostics; dosage calculations for veterinary technicians; companion animal science; microbiology; veterinary pharmacology; animal reproduction; and more.
Online Vet Tech Programs
For residents of more rural areas in IA or those with time commitments (e.g., familial, professional, etc.), attending a distance-based veterinary technician program may be the best option. These programs typically involve the combination of web-based courses and the completion of hands-on mentorships at approved local sites under the guidance of credentialed veterinary professionals.
There are currently eight accredited online vet tech programs. One is available at Colby Community College (CCC). This 82-credit AAS program in veterinary technology features classes such as breeds of domestic animals, basic nutrition, veterinary parasitology, hematology, clinical chemistry, veterinary imaging, and dentistry. For CCC’s on-campus program, 52 percent of graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2014 and 2017.
Another competitive option is available at the prestigious Purdue University, which has both on-campus and online AAS programs in veterinary technology. The web-based program may only be taken part-time and typically takes four to five years to complete. In a rigorous combination of 35 online classes and 18 clinical mentorships, students are prepared for their careers. Purdue’s courses include veterinary physiology; veterinary anatomy; introduction to ophthalmology, dermatology, and oncology; parasitology; and diagnostic imaging for vet techs. The empirical mentorships cover similar subjects, as well as equine nursing; operating room technique & sterilization procedures; and pharmacy. An unbeatable 100 percent of on-campus graduates from Purdue passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2013 and 2016. For the online students, this figure was still well above average at 88.5 percent.
To discover the array of distance-based vet tech programs available, please check out the online veterinary technician programs page.
Job Demand for Vet Techs in Iowa
There’s ample good news for prospective veterinary technicians in Iowa. In fact, CareerOneStop (2018)—an organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—reported that veterinary technology was the fourth fastest growing occupation for people with associate degrees in the state, and expected a 26 percent increase in job openings between 2014 and 2024. More recent data has also been promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017) projected that openings for vet techs nationally will increase 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average growth anticipated for all professions during that time period (7 percent).
Vet Tech Salary Nationally and in Iowa
So how much money can veterinary technicians expect to make across the country and specifically in Iowa? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017), there are currently 103,430 vet techs working around the US with an average annual salary of $34,710. This equates to $16.69/hour. In more detailed terms, these were the salary percentiles from American vet techs:
- 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 were the national percentile figures:
- 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.
These figures were comparable in Iowa, with the 90th percentile exceeding national statistics. Interestingly, the cost of living is also much lower in IA than many states. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) reported that the Hawkeye State ranked thirteenth in affordability, boasting particular savings in housing and groceries.
The BLS (May 2017) found that the 870 vet techs in Iowa made an annual average salary of $34,730, or $16.70/hour. Interestingly, Indeed (2018) found a slightly lower mean annual salary for IA vet techs at $26,250. Here is a granular look at the salary ranges for veterinary technicians in IA (BLS 2017):
- 10th percentile: $24,730
- 25th percentile: $27,490
- 50th percentile (median): $31,850
- 75th percentile: $38,640
- 90th percentile: $54,470
In hourly terms, these figures equate to:
- 10th percentile: $11.89/hr.
- 25th percentile: $13.22/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $15.31/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.58/hr.
- 90th percentile: $26.19/hr.
It’s no surprise that these percentiles also tend to vary by region of Iowa. According to the BLS (2017), there’s an especially bright salary outlook for residents of the northwest and southwest nonmetropolitan areas. Here’s a breakdown of several areas listed with the number of vet techs employed, average annual salaries, and annual salary percentiles:
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA: (unknown number employed): $34,230 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $27,450
- 25th percentile: $31,320
- 50th percentile (median): $34,650
- 75th percentile: $37,830
- 90th percentile: $39,840
Cedar Rapids, IA: (90 employed): $34,890 avg.
- 10th percentile: $26,790
- 25th percentile: $28,810
- 50th percentile (median): $31,910
- 75th percentile: $37,630
- 90th percentile: $52,860
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA: (200 employed): $31,360 avg.
- 10th percentile: $24,600
- 25th percentile: $26,900
- 50th percentile (median): $30,330
- 75th percentile: $35,840
- 90th percentile: $39,210
Dubuque, IA: (40 employed): $30,450 avg.
- 10th percentile: $25,210
- 25th percentile: $26,770
- 50th percentile (median): $29,240
- 75th percentile: $33,510
- 90th percentile: $39,170
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA: (80 employed): $30,000 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,030
- 25th percentile: $24,860
- 50th percentile (median): $29,610
- 75th percentile: $35,130
- 90th percentile: $39,060
Northwest Iowa Nonmetropolitan Area: (unknown number employed): $32,680 avg.
- 10th percentile: $25,630
- 25th percentile: $26,820
- 50th percentile (median): $28,800
- 75th percentile: $30,780
- 90th percentile: $54,470
Southwest Iowa Nonmetropolitan Area: (unknown number of vet techs employed): $47,880 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,840
- 25th percentile: $34,710
- 50th percentile (median): $54,750
- 75th percentile: $59,500
- 90th percentile: $62,350
Southeast Iowa Nonmetropolitan Area: (unknown number employed): $31,770 avg.
- 10th percentile: $23,990
- 25th percentile: $27,770
- 50th percentile (median): $31,930
- 75th percentile: $36,450
- 90th percentile: $39,160
Where Do IA Vet Techs Work?
Fortunately for veterinary technicians in Iowa, there is a wealth of employment opportunities in a wide range of environments. Traditionally vet techs work in animal clinics and hospitals, and they’re also employed by farms, shelters, rescue centers, zoos, aquariums, universities, research facilities, manufacturing companies, humane societies, kennels, veterinary supply sales, food safety inspection offices, and parks. In Iowa, there are not only job openings listed on typical job-hunting sites such as LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, or SimplyHired, but also through niche services such as iHireVeterinary, which provides Iowa vet tech job listings at sites such as Iowa State University, PETCO, the Sullivan Family Pet Hospital, and Veterinary Associates. As mentioned in the introduction, the Central Iowa Veterinary Technician Association (CIVTA) also maintains a job board with opportunities at facilities including Highland Park Animal Hospital, Grinnell Veterinary Clinic, Jordan Creek Animal Hospital, Urban Pet Hospital, Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital, and Iowa Veterinary Specialties.
Lastly, there is an abundance of promising subfields in which some vet techs in IA choose to advance their job qualifications and possibly increase their salary potential. Some of the subfields which veterinary technician specialists (VTS) pursue include clinical pathology, critical care, analgesia & anesthesia, surgery, dermatology, animal behavior, zoological medicine, avian nursing, equine nursing and more. To qualify for professional credentialing, candidates typically need the following in their application: a resume, an application fee, a state-issued vet tech credential, proof of experience (typically between 1,000 and 10,000 hours), letters of recommendation with a skills assessment, a comprehensive portfolio with case logs, and a passing score on an exam.
To learn more about the potential in these specialities and how to pursue VTS certifications, visit the main veterinary technician careers page.
|Veterinary Career||Iowa Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Registration in Iowa
The main credentialing agency in Iowa to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) is the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine. Please note that registration is now mandatory in Iowa. To qualify, candidates must do the following:
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Submit an application
- Pass a state exam
- Pay a processing fee
To maintain this three-year credential, vet techs must complete 30 hours of qualifying continuing education (CE). Please note that the CE requirement may be waived for some military personnel pending the approval of the Board. For a detailed examination of the Iowa state legislation regarding vet techs, please visit the the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine’s laws page.
Finally, there are many online resources available for vet tech CE. These include VetMed Team, the National American Veterinary Technicians Association (NAVTA), Purina, and Vetlearn.
For veterinary technician schools, there are two main types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. For institutional accreditation, colleges in Iowa are approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six regional organizations recognized by the US Department of Education’s Commission for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
More importantly for vet techs, however, is programmatic accreditation. As mentioned in the section on vet tech programs in IA, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is the primary accreditation body across the country. It weighs several factors in its program approval process such as school finances, quality of curriculum, admissions processes, availability of resources (e.g., libraries, state-of-the-art equipment, adequate facilities, etc.), and student outcomes. For a comprehensive look at CVTEA’s program approval process, please check out the vet tech program accreditation standards page.
|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||RVT||Yes||Yes||Veterinary technicians do not need to be registered to practice in the state. If they do choose to be registered, they are required to take the Iowa Veterinary Technician Examination.||Central Iowa Veterinary Technician Association|