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 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 2017) outlines some 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.
A bill to establish licensure for veterinary technicians (H.159) is now attached to bill H.4638 as of July 2, 2018, and is in review by the House Committee on Rules of MA. The bill would make professional licensure in this occupation mandatory for practice in the state. 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, 01609-2165||No||Yes|
|Holyoke Community College||303 Homestead Ave, Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1040||No||Yes|
|Massasoit Community College||1 Massasoit Blvd., CAnton, Massachusetts, 2302||No||Yes|
|Mount Ida College||777 Dedham Street, Newton, Massachusetts, 2459||No||Yes|
|North Shore Community College||1 Ferncroft Rd, Danvers, Massachusetts, 01923-0840||No||Yes|
CVTEA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs in MA
For prospective vet techs in Massachusetts, there are four 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 (2016)—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 four 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 & 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 77.14 percent of the Becker program graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt between 2014 and 2017.
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 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 63% between 2014 and 2017.
Massasoit Community College also offers a 2-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 in 2017, no VTNE first-time pass scores are available at this time for the program.
Finally, North Shore Community College of Danvers offers a two-year associate of science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology with classes such as canine & feline behavior; medical terminology; veterinary parasitology; ethics and law for pet care professionals; math for business and finance; surgical nursing & 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 sumbitted 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.
Please note: Mount Ida College previously offered a CVTEA-accredited program, however the school closed in 2018.
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 2014 and 2017, an impressive 86.67 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 for Vet Techs in MA
In Massachusetts and across the country, the employment outlook for veterinary technicians is bright. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) anticipates a 20 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2016 and 2026, much more robust growth than what’s predicted for all occupations during that time (7 percent). With 20,400 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 (2017) reports that vet techs had an annual average salary of $34,710 nationwide, whereas the 3,170 vet techs in MA reported a mean salary of $40,950, making it the fourth highest paying state in this field. This is a 15.2 percent higher average salary than nationwide figures, however 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 2018) found that MA is the eighth 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 (2017) found the following salary percentiles for the 103,430 vet techs working across the country:
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
By comparison, the 3,170 vet techs in MA enjoyed much higher salary prospects at all levels:
- 10th percentile: $29,560
- 25th percentile: $34,170
- 50th percentile (median): $39,590
- 75th percentile: $47,250
- 90th percentile: $55,770
Additionally, these figures tended to vary by region within MA. While the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA division employed the most vet techs and boasted an average annual salary well above the national average, the Framingham, MA NECTA division enjoyed the highest salaries in the state with an annual average salary of $47,370. Here is a detailed examination of the salary prospects for vet techs within several of the designated regions of MA (BLS 2017):
Barnstable Town, MA: 160 vet techs employed ($33,150 annual average salary)
- 10th percentile: $25,410
- 25th percentile: $27,990
- 50th percentile (median): $32,270
- 75th percentile: $37,580
- 90th percentile: $44,270
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division: 1,160 employed ($43,820 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $33,350
- 25th percentile: $36,970
- 50th percentile (median): $42,680
- 75th percentile: $49,570
- 90th percentile: $59,110
Framingham, MA NECTA Division: 220 employed ($47,370 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $36,060
- 25th percentile: $42,550
- 50th percentile (median): $47,830
- 75th percentile: $54,190
- 90th percentile: $60,320
Leominster-Gardner, MA: 60 employed ($37,180 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $26,310
- 25th percentile: $30,100
- 50th percentile (median): $35,230
- 75th percentile: $40,740
- 90th percentile: $51,190
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division: 120 employed ($38,370 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $27,500
- 25th percentile: $32,610
- 50th percentile (median): $36,770
- 75th percentile: $43,570
- 90th percentile: $53,950
New Bedford, MA: 60 employed ($36,570 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $26,260
- 25th percentile: $29,690
- 50th percentile (median): $34,710
- 75th percentile: $39,640
- 90th percentile: $54,110
Peabody-Salem-Beverly, MA NECTA Division: 80 employed ($36,080 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $26,960
- 25th percentile: $29,840
- 50th percentile (median): $35,620
- 75th percentile: $40,990
- 90th percentile: $47,860
Springfield, MA-CT: 300 employed ($37,600 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $27,750
- 25th percentile: $32,050
- 50th percentile (median): $37,380
- 75th percentile: $43,650
- 90th percentile: $48,790
Worcester, MA-CT: 560 employed ($41,450 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $31,900
- 25th percentile: $34,780
- 50th percentile (median): $39,320
- 75th percentile: $46,210
- 90th percentile: $53,340
Veterinary technicians in MA can seek employment in a range of environments including veterinary hospitals, clinics, farms, stables, research facilities, zoos, aquariums, universities, kennels, animal sanctuaries, and other facilities. Some vet techs may work normal business hours, whereas others may be called upon to provide veterinary healthcare services on weekends, evenings, or holidays.
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.
|Veterinary Career||Massachusetts Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Massachusetts Vet Tech Certification
As of March 2016, 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|