In the Bluegrass State, there’s much work to be done in the realm of animal welfare. In fact, local news organization WBKO (2015) reported that for the seventh year in a row, Kentucky (KY) has ranked dead last in animal protection laws according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Some of the areas which beg improvement include law enforcement policies, general prohibitions against cruelty, and penalties for infractions. While this seems like bad news for animal-lovers in KY, cruelty statutes are beginning to advance. Michigan State University’s Animal Legal and Historical Center (Nov. 2015) found that a slew of new statutes against animal cruelty and fighting have recently emerged in Kentucky, reversing a longstanding trend. Furthermore, news outlet WKYT (2016) covered a recent animal rights protest at the state capitol, calling for the support of several bills such as lowering requirements for assault, prohibiting discriminatory breed-specific ordinances, and promoting the free flow of information from vets to the government.
For residents of KY who want to promote the wellbeing of furry, scaly-skinned, and feathered creatures, becoming a veterinary technician (vet tech) represents a strong possibility. In KY, vet techs must register with the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners in order to work. It’s important to note that the scope of practice in this profession varies by state. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016) offers a chart of regional restrictions, noting that in KY, vet techs must have an associate degree in veterinary technology (or a board-approved equivalent) and must be registered. Most animal healthcare functions must be performed under the direct supervision of the licensed veterinarian; however, some duties can be performed under indirect supervision such as administering routine drugs, vaccines, parasite control medications, and growth stimulating agents. Vet techs in KY may assist vets with animal surgeries, and may even “gratuitously treat animals in cases of emergency.”
So what are some of the specific job duties of vet techs in KY? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016) outlines some common responsibilities which include assisting veterinarians with common dental, surgical, radiological, anesthetic, and other types of procedures; keeping medical records for animal patients; managing veterinary offices; taking samples (e.g., bodily fluids) and analyzing them in a lab; maintaining the cleanliness and sterilization of facilities and equipment; administering vaccines, first aid, or medications; restraining animals during examinations; educating pet owners on proper care and nutrition; and engaging in continued learning as veterinary care advances.
Additionally, the Kentucky Veterinary Technician Association (KVTA) includes an extensive code of ethics for the profession as well as the veterinary technician oath:
I solemnly dedicate myself to aiding animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, by alleviating animal suffering, and by promoting public health. I accept my obligations to practice my profession conscientiously and with sensitivity, adhering to the profession’s Code of Ethics, and furthering my knowledge and competence through a commitment to lifelong learning.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Kentucky
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Morehead State University||University Blvd, Morehead, Kentucky, 40351||No||Yes|
|Murray State University||218 Wells Hall, Murray, Kentucky, 42071-3318||No||Yes|
|Owensboro Community and Technical College||4800 New Hartford Road, Owensboro, Kentucky, 42303||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Programs in KY
For aspiring vet techs in Kentucky, it’s important to seek out accredited two- to four-year educational programs. The primary accreditation body for veterinary technology schools is the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Seeking out an AVMA-accredited program is crucial to qualify for professional credentialing in most states. Although the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners—the predominant credentialing organization in the state—reserves the right to approve programs without AVMA accreditation, it is generally the exception rather than the rule. Therefore, KY vet techs are encouraged to seek out CVTEA-accredited programs.
Luckily for residents of the Bluegrass State, there are currently three accredited programs. Typical admissions requirements include sending one’s official high school transcripts with proof of specific coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, English, algebra); writing a personal statement; showing proof of health insurance and immunizations; and paying an application fee. For non-native speakers of English, submitting qualifying TOEFL scores may also be required. Some programs also ask for experience working with animals, letters of recommendation, or a candidate interview.
One standout option is Morehead State University which offers both associate and bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary technology. Morehead has sent its graduates to work at places such as the USDA and Kentucky Department of Agriculture. In the four year program, students can get the training they need to become veterinary technician specialists (VTS), specializing in areas including anesthesiology, clinical pathology, dentistry, diagnostic imaging, and surgical assistance. The vet tech program provides much of its training in the scenic 350-acre Derrickson Agricultural Complex, which houses cows, sows, horses, sheep, and more. Finally, among program graduates, an impressive 85 percent passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015.
Murray State University offers a bachelor of science (BS) in veterinary technology with classes such as animal science, animal nutrition, anatomy & physiology, horse science, parasitology, hematology, pharmacology, and vet clinical chemistry. Murray State prepares its graduates for opportunities working in laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic labs, food production facilities, food inspection organizations, and universities. Between 2012 and 2015, 52.29 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Online Vet Tech Programs
For some students in more rural regions of KY who are unable to attend any campus-based programs, there are nine CVTEA-accredited online programs available as well. These are typically open to students who have some veterinary experience and work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian close to their home. In addition to completing online didactic classes, students progressively get their skills evaluated by veterinary mentors at approved clinical preceptor sites.
One online veterinary technology program option is at Colby Community College of Kansas. Colby has classes such as math for veterinary technicians; anatomy & physiology; small animal clinical procedures; animal facility management & sanitation; veterinary anesthesiology; and parasitology. Between 2012 and 2015, 64 percent of Colby’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
St. Petersburg College (SPC) of Florida provides an online associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. In addition to clinical practicums located close to students’ homes, vet tech program enrollees complete distance-based classes such as animal nursing; animal breeds & behavior; physiology; avian & exotic pet medicine; pharmacology; anesthesia; and pharmacology. This program begins in August, January, and May. Notably, between 2012 and 2015, an impressive 75 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
For more information about distance-based education in veterinary technology, please visit the online vet tech programs page.
Occupational Outlook for Vet Techs in Kentucky
In the Bluegrass State—a place which boasts the “Horse Capital of the World”—there’s excellent news for aspiring veterinary technicians. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) projects that job opportunities in this field will swell 19 percent between 2014 and 2024, substantially faster than the average growth predicted for all occupations during that time (7 percent). And the addition of 17,900 vet tech openings nationwide is only part of the good news. According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2014)—an organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—there will be a 25 percent increase in positions for vet techs in KY between 2012 and 2022. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing professions for people with associate degrees in the state.
So how much do vet techs make around the country and specifically in KY? The BLS (2015) reported that there are currently 95,790 vet techs working nationwide with an annual average salary of $33,280. In further detail, vet techs around the country had the following salary averages:
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
In hourly terms, this equates to an average of $16.00/hr. and the following percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.52/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.67/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $15.29/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.50/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.80/hr.
It’s important to note that while the KY salaries were somewhat lower, the cost of living in the Bluegrass State is also substantially more affordable that most of the nation. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that KY is the fifth cheapest state in the nation, boasting particular savings in housing costs and groceries. Please keep that in mind while evaluating the following salary prospects.
In KY, there were 1,530 vet techs employed according the the BLS (2015). Among these, they made an annual average salary of $28,800, and had these more granular salary percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $19,740
- 25th percentile: $22,330
- 50th percentile (median): $26,950
- 75th percentile: $32,990
- 90th percentile: $42,080
Interestingly, Indeed (2016) found a slightly lower mean annual salary for KY vet techs at $25,000. The BLS (2015) also broke down its Kentucky salary data into hourly percentiles. In hourly terms, KY vet techs made an average of $13.85/hr., and had the following percentile wages:
- 10th percentile: $9.49/hr.
- 25th percentile: $10.74/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $12.96/hr.
- 75th percentile: $15.86/hr.
- 90th percentile: $20.23/hr.
Payscale (April 2016)—an aggregator of self-reported salary data—found slightly higher hourly estimates at most percentile levels for its 3,152 vet techs. This is likely due to the nature of self-reported data and the fact that these figures represent vet techs across the country:
- 10th percentile: $10/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $13.68/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16/hr.
- 90th percentile: $18/hr.
Not surprisingly, these figures also tend to vary by region of KY. The BLS (2015) designates seven regions within the state. Interestingly, the Lexington-Fayette metropolitan area had higher averages than national figures for vet techs. Listed by region, here are the numbers of vet techs employed, annual average salaries, and percentile estimates:
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY (30 vet techs employed): $22,920 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $16,620
- 25th percentile: $18,570
- 50th percentile (median): $22,430
- 75th percentile: $27,040
- 90th percentile: $30,670
Lexington-Fayette, KY (370 employed): $34,920 avg.
- 10th percentile: $20,450
- 25th percentile: $24,550
- 50th percentile (median): $31,480
- 75th percentile: $45,190
- 90th percentile: $54,900
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN (580 employed): $26,600 avg.
- 10th percentile: $19,740
- 25th percentile: $21,800
- 50th percentile (median): $25,400
- 75th percentile: $30,180
- 90th percentile: $36,600
West Kentucky Nonmetropolitan Area (100 employed): $27,300 avg.
- 10th percentile: $18,960
- 25th percentile: $22,330
- 50th percentile (median): $26,530
- 75th percentile: $30,220
- 90th percentile: $38,830
South Central Kentucky Nonmetropolitan Area (50 employed): $25,710 avg.
- 10th percentile: $17,410
- 25th percentile: $20,290
- 50th percentile (median): $25,270
- 75th percentile: $29,510
- 90th percentile: $34,650
Central Kentucky Nonmetropolitan Area (130 employed): $24,330 avg.
- 10th percentile: $19,300
- 25th percentile: $20,900
- 50th percentile (median): $23,190
- 75th percentile: $26,980
- 90th percentile: $31,150
East Kentucky Nonmetropolitan Area (30 employed): $26,730 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,280
- 25th percentile: $23,870
- 50th percentile (median): $27,070
- 75th percentile: $29,650
- 90th percentile: $31,200
In Kentucky, vet techs are employed in a wide range of environments. In a state famous for its horse culture, there may be ample opportunities for those with equine specialty training. In addition to stables, KY vet techs work in veterinary hospitals, zoos, farms, aquariums, laboratories, wildlife sanctuaries, kennels, shelters, private practice clinics, humane societies, and animal welfare organizations.
The Kentucky Veterinary Technician Association holds a variety of events such as its Spring Fling which raises money for the association and posts job opportunities at places including VetData. In addition to traditional job-hunting sites (e.g., LinkedIn, Monster, SimplyHired, CareerBuilder), iHireVeterinary provides a list of vet techs openings in KY. Recently, there were local openings posted at Banfield Pet Hospital, St. Matthew’s Animal Clinic, VCA Animal Hospital, Erlanger Veterinary Hospital, and PetSuites Pet Resort & Spa.
Finally, there is a range of subfields in the field of veterinary technology. In KY, garnering specialized experience and coursework in equine nursing is one possibility. Other popular specializations include critical care, zoological medicine, animal behavior, dermatology, rehabilitation, and clinical pathology.
To learn more about how to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS) in one of these specializations and more, please check out the main veterinary technician careers page.
|Veterinary Career||Kentucky Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Registration in KY
According to the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners, vet techs in KY must be registered prior to practice. In order to qualify for registration, vet techs must have the following:
- Proof of having graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, or an educational equivalent approved by the board
- Passing scores on a written and practical examination (e.g., Veterinary Technician National Examination [VTNE])
- A notarized letter of good standing from the candidate’s supervising veterinarian
- An application fee of $25.00
For more detailed information on each of these steps, please check out the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners Laws & Regulations Booklet.
To maintain active registration, vet techs in KY must submit an annual renewal application with a $30.00 fee and six hours of continuing education (CE). The Kentucky Veterinary Technician Association (KVTA) offers CE opportunities such as the Spring Dermatology Seminar and other specialized conferences, events, and training sessions. There is also a variety of CE opportunities online through sites such as VetMed Team, Purina, AtDove, the National American Veterinary Technicians Association (NAVTA), and Vetlearn.
As mentioned above, aspiring vet techs in KY are encouraged to seek out programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the primary accreditation body for vet tech programs in the nation. The CVTEA evaluates programs based on the following criteria:
- Institutional accreditation
- School finances
- Organization & communications
- Quality of facilities & equipment
- Clinical training opportunities
- Libraries & other resources
- Admissions processes
- Faculty & staff
- Student outcomes assessment
For more information on the process, please visit the CVTEA 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||Applicants in Kentucky must also submit a letter from the veterinarian employing and supervising them.||Kentucky Veterinary Technician Association|