Vet Tech Programs in Massachusetts

Question: What’s the state dog of Massachusetts?

Answer: Not surprisingly, the Boston terrier—a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier—was designated as the official state dog in 1979.

Speaking of pets, Massachusetts has some of the strictest regulations regarding the possession of animals in the country. In an attempt to protect both the public and wildlife populations, the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs reports that there are three categories of animals for prospective pet-owners: domestic animals, wild animals that require a MassWildlife permit, and wild animals that do not. The only animals that may be taken from the wild as pets are certain species of reptiles and amphibians such as American bullfrogs, milk snakes, snapping turtles, and eastern red-backed salamanders. Many other animals—including some sold at pet stores in neighboring states—cannot legally become personal pets in MA.

Given these extensive regulations, it makes sense that veterinary technicians in Massachusetts also operate under the scrutiny of state laws. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) outlines several regional restrictions on the scope of practice in this profession. In the Bay State, vet techs can administer controlled substances (e.g., anesthetics) only under the immediate supervision of a veterinarian.

Additionally, Massachusetts (MA) vet techs must have direct supervision while bandaging wounds; polishing teeth; placing catheters; and taking diagnostic images. These animal healthcare technicians can perform some duties without supervision such as bandaging in emergencies; drawing blood samples; and processing laboratory samples.

So more generally, what do veterinary technicians do? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) reports that vet techs have a number of responsibilities including helping licensed vets with typical dental, surgical, laboratory, and diagnostic procedures; giving basic medical treatment to animals; educating pet-owners about proper care; keeping inventory of equipment and medications; sterilizing instruments and rooms; restraining animals during routine examinations; and monitoring animals’ health status.

Currently, there is optional certification for Massachusetts vet techs available through the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA).

Read on to discover the career outlook for vet techs in MA, as well as to learn about accredited programs and professional certification.

Map of Vet Tech Schools in Massachusetts

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Becker College 61 Sever St, Worcester, Massachusetts, 01609-2165NoYes
Holyoke Community College 303 Homestead Ave, Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1040NoYes
Massasoit Community College 1 Massasoit Blvd., Canton, Massachusetts, 2302NoYes
Mount Wachusett Community College 444 Green Street, Gardner, Massachusetts, 01440NoYes
North Shore Community College 1 Ferncroft Rd, Danvers, Massachusetts, 01923-0840NoYes
University of Massachusetts- Amherst at Mount Ida campus 777 Dedham St, Newton, Massachusetts, 02459NoYes

AVMA-Accredited Veterinary Technician Programs in Massachusetts

For prospective vet techs in Massachusetts, there are six programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the predominant accrediting body for vet tech programs nationwide. Graduating from a CVTEA-accredited program is a prerequisite to credentialing in most states in the US.

Also, according to O*NET (2020)—a data organization and affiliate of the US Department of Labor—68 percent of its vet tech respondents nationwide held associate degrees, the most common entry point for this occupation.

Here is a breakdown of the six CVTEA-accredited vet tech programs in Massachusetts:

Becker College, of Worcester, offers an accredited associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology, a vet tech bachelor of science (BS) and a vet tech BS with a pre-veterinary minor. Its graduates have gone on to jobs not only in veterinary clinical settings, but also in public health organizations, zoos, and pharmaceutical companies.

Courses in the 64-credit AS program include anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; laboratory animal science; clinical pathology; farm animal skills; and more. Students complete practical experiences and an externship to gain hands-on experience.

The BS degree consists of 122 credits, and includes the courses for the AS degree as well as pathophysiology of disease; animals in society; clinical veterinary nutrition; and more. In addition students complete general education requirements, electives, and additional externship opportunities. The BS with a pre-veterinary minor is also 122 credits. Notably, 75 percent of the Becker program graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt between 2016 and 2019.

Holyoke Community College also has a two-year, CVTEA-accredited AAS program to impart the fundamentals of the field such as how to handle animal patients, administer medications, collect and process laboratory samples, and carefully document records.

Holyoke expresses a wealth of objectives for their veterinary technician program graduates. In addition, they follow the code of ethics outlined by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and veterinary students take an oath, promising to provide excellent care to animals, alleviate their suffering, and more.

Courses at Holyoke include veterinary practice management; anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; animal diseases; animal nursing; vet laboratory procedures; exotic pets; and veterinary radiology. Students complete two externships during the program. Holyoke graduates had a first-time pass rate on the VTNE of 75 percent between 2016 and 2019.

Massasoit Community College also offers a two-year AAS degree in veterinary technology at their Canton Campus. This program also requires attendance at an information session in order to apply. Prerequisites include intermediate algebra, preparing for college reading; introductory writing; and biological principles.

Students are trained in animal anatomy and physiology; patient assessment; proper handling and restraint; office procedures; veterinary parasitology; client service; surgery and anesthesia; and more. Because Massasoit recently gained accreditation, no VTNE first-time pass scores are available at this time for the program.

Mount Wachusett Community College offers a two-year associate degree in veterinary technology for prospective applicants seeking a highly selective program. Courses include animal diseases, veterinary radiology, anatomy and physiology of domestic animals, and even farm animal medicine.

Students also complete two 120-hour internship rotations where they can intern in emergency and specialty medicine, wildlife, farm animals, aquatic medicine, and even exotic species! This program is recently accredited, so VTNE first-time pass scores are not available yet.

North Shore Community College of Danvers offers a two-year associate of science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology with classes such as canine and feline behavior; medical terminology; veterinary parasitology; ethics and law for pet care professionals; math for business and finance; surgical nursing and anesthesia; theriogenology; and more.

Because the admission process is selective, all prospective students must attend an information session in which they will learn about the program and admission requirements as well as import application dates. A certificate of attendance will be administered upon completion of the information session which must be submitted with the application.

Notably, NSCC ensures all animals used at the institution are handled, treated, housed, cared for, and transported in humane and ethical ways through their Institution Animal Care and Use Committee which is guided by the Animal Welfare Act. North Shore boasts an 86 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE among its graduates between 2015 and 2018.

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst (Mount Ida campus) is offering a new four-year bachelor of science (BS) program in veterinary technology. This rigorous program provides students with two years of intensive classroom and lab instruction at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, followed by two years at the dedicated veterinary technology facilities at the Mount Ida campus. Coursework includes large animal clinical nursing, veterinary microbiology, small animal anaesthesia and surgery, and even parasitology. This program was accredited in January 2020, so VTNE score rates are not yet available.

Online Vet Tech Programs

For some students with time or distance-based restrictions, attending an on-campus program can be difficult. Luckily there are currently several CVTEA-accredited online programs in veterinary technology. These programs typically involve a rigorous combination of online coursework and a clinical mentorship which can be completed close to a student’s home.

It’s important to note that Massachusetts has relatively strict regulations with respect to online education, and some programs acknowledge in “state authorization” disclosures that they’re unable to provide their program to MA-based students. Prospective students are encouraged to verify with program administrators that MA residents are eligible prior to applying.

One CVTEA-accredited online program is offered part-time through Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which requires three visits to the Loudoun, VA campus per semester. In addition, there are some required training activities and off-campus field trips. This program—ideal for veterinary assistants working at least 20 hours weekly who want to advance their skills—includes general education classes and vet tech fundamentals such as animal diseases, clinical pathology, and wildlife medicine. Between 2016 and 2019, an impressive 83.3 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.

For more information on web-based programs for vet techs, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.

Job Outlook & Salary for Vet Techs in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts and across the country, the employment outlook for veterinary technicians is bright. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) anticipates a 19 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2018 and 2028, much more robust growth than what’s predicted for all occupations during that time (5 percent). With 21,100 fresh vet tech positions expected in the coming decade nationwide, there should be ample opportunities for animal-lovers seeking to break into this career.

Furthermore, the outlook for residents of Massachusetts—one of the highest paying states for vet techs—is especially promising. By illustration, the BLS (May 2019) reports that vet techs had an annual average salary of $36,670 nationwide, whereas the 3,430 vet techs in MA reported a mean salary of $42,3600

It’s important to note that the cost of living in Massachusetts is also significantly higher than many others. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that MA is the sixth most expensive state in which to live, experiencing especially steep housing costs relative to the rest of the country. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the salary data within this region.

On more granular terms, the BLS (May 2019) found the following salary percentiles for the 110,650 vet techs working across the country:

  • 10th percentile: $24,530
  • 25th percentile: $29,080
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,320
  • 75th percentile: $42,540
  • 90th percentile: $51,230

By comparison, the 3,430 vet techs in MA enjoyed much higher salary prospects at all levels:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,220
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,830
  • 75th percentile: $48,220
  • 90th percentile: $54,550

The Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA) provides several services for people in this field such as continuing education (CE) opportunities, job postings, and professional networking.

Finally, there are a number of specialties for vet techs designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Some vet techs may choose to pursue these specialized skills and credentials in order to enhance their employment prospects and earning potential. Some of the popular subfields include anesthesia & analgesia, animal behavior, clinical pathology, dermatology, critical care, internal medicine, surgery, zoological animals, nutrition, and more.

To learn more about these specialties and how to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), please check out the main page on veterinary technicians.

VET TECH 3,430 $31,000 $41,830 $54,550
VET ASSISTANT 1,470 $26,240 $38,430 $57,250

Massachusetts Vet Tech Certification

As of May 2020, professional credentialing is not necessary to practice as a vet tech in MA. That said, there are some advantages to being certified in MA. It can not only enhance one’s employment prospects within MA, but can also set up a vet tech for licensure, registration, or certification should he or she choose to relocate to another state.

Here are the typical steps to becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Massachusetts:

  • Graduate from high school.
  • Enroll in a two- to four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
  • Apply for certification through the Massachusetts Veterinary Technicians Association (MVTA).

To qualify for certification through the MVTA, candidates must submit an application, pass the VTNE with a score of at least 425, send in an official transcript from a CVTEA-accredited program in veterinary technology (there are other paths to membership if the vet tech did not attend a CVTEA-accredited program), and pay a $65 application fee. Please note that for candidates without CVTEA-accredited degrees and extensive experience, there is some flexibility.

These certifications are valid for one year and can be renewed following the completion of 12 continuing education units (CEUs). There is a $50 fee to renew and a $25 late fee after December 31st of that year. The MVTA provides a list of approved continuing education (CE) resources such as:

Vet Tech Program Accreditation

As mentioned previously, those seeking a program in veterinary technology in Massachusetts are encouraged to pursue programs approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. The CVTEA evaluates several factors in its program-approval process such as institutional accreditation, curricula, admissions processes, student outcomes assessments, quality of physical facilities, and program finances.

For a detailed look at the criteria, please visit the CVTEA standards of accreditation in its website.

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
No CVT Yes Yes Massachusetts does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified with the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA). At least two years of education in a vet tech program is generally a requirement for most employers. Taking the VTNE upon graduation may still be advisable for those candidates interested in being employable in other states. Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association
Bree Nicolello (Writer)

Bree is an urban planner and freelance writer based in Seattle, WA. She has worked on land use and housing policy issues throughout the Pacific Northwest. She previously led Run Oregon Run, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Oregonians run for office and apply to boards and commissions. When not writing, she is lovingly tending to her cast iron pans.