In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, animal populations—and by extension, the opportunities for veterinary technicians—are abundant. As proof of point, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that MN boasts the largest wolf and bald eagle populations in the lower 48 states. Additionally, it harbors groups of nine federally endangered and 197 state-listed threatened species. With black bears, moose, timberwolves, common loons, and a wealth of domesticated animals, Minnesota offers ample scaly, feathered, and furry patients across the spectrum of veterinary care.
Furthermore, this state has a unique history of animal welfare advocacy. By illustration, the Animal Folks of Minnesota—a research-based animal protection organization—provides services such as animal cruelty research, criminal justice work, lobbying efforts, educational events, and electioneering. One issue the group highlights is animal hoarding, a phenomena where an individual accumulates too many animals to give each adequate care. Some are simply overwhelmed caregivers or rescuers who might have the best intentions but still fail to meet the needs of their animals. Others are exploitative and collect animals for their own gain. The Animal Folks report that there are approximately 3,500 animal hoarders turned in to authorities annually. This is one of many situations where a veterinary technician can assist in returning animal captives to optimal health.
So what is it that veterinary technicians do? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2016), a vet tech’s responsibilities vary by state, but typically include keeping medical records of animal patients; helping licensed veterinarians with medical, diagnostic, dental, anesthetic, and surgical procedures; maintaining clinic inventories of supplies; taking and analyzing laboratory samples to assist in diagnoses; and educating pet-owners and other laymen on proper care. They may take blood, place catheters, or provide medications, depending on the region’s scope of practice restrictions. In Minnesota, the AVMA (2016) reports that there are relatively generous responsibilities assigned to these healthcare professionals, as veterinary technicians may “render lifesaving aid and treatment to an animal in the absence of a veterinarian.” Other states typically have more restrictive working conditions and vet techs may not perform most procedures without a licensed veterinarian present.
Although the Gopher State does not require its vet techs to become certified veterinary technicians (CVTs) prior to practice, it may be advisable not only to enhance one’s employment candidacy, but also to ease the credential reciprocity process should the person relocate to a new state. The veterinary technician occupation is not included in MN’s Practice Act, according to the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians (MAVT), although this may change in years to come.
Read on to discover the high-growth career outlook for vet techs, as well as to learn information about vet tech schools in Minnesota, professional credentialing, and program accreditation.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Minnesota
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Argosy University-Twin Cities||1515 Central Parkway, Eagan, Minnesota, 55121||No||Yes|
|Ridgewater College||2101 15th Ave NW, Willmar, Minnesota, 56201||No||Yes|
|Rochester Community and Technical College||851 30th Ave SE, Rochester, Minnesota, 55904-4999||No||Yes|
Accredited Veterinary Technician Programs in MN
Aspiring veterinary technicians in Minnesota are encouraged to seek out vet tech programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a program-approval body established by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are currently three CVTEA-accredited programs in Minnesota. To discover how vet tech programs become accredited, please reference the relevant section below.
One CVTEA-accredited program in MN is at Argosy University in Eagan. This associate of science (AS) in veterinary technology program has 69 credits of coursework in areas such as medical terminology, comparative anatomy, small animal medicine, veterinary hematology, and parasitology. In addition to a wide range of electives to further hone a student’s skills according to his or her interests, Argosy provides a three-month internship to allow students to use their newfound vet tech skills. The program typically takes 21 months to complete and boasted a 77 percent first-time passing rate on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) between 2012 and 2015.
Ridgewater College of Willmar offers a 75-credit, CVTEA-accredited AAS degree with specialized training in laboratory techniques, veterinary nursing procedures, and disease processes. Ridgewater has a 95 percent job placement rate among its graduates, low tuition, and a range of live animals on campus. Additionally, it has state-of-the-art surgical facilities and equipment used for digital X-rays and dental work. Finally, Ridgewater had a 72.5 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE among program graduates between 2012 and 2015.
Online Vet Tech Programs
For Minnesotans who have familial, professional, or other types of commitments that make attendance at a campus-based program difficult, there are currently nine CVTEA-accredited, web-based vet tech programs. Typically these programs are suitable for people who have a clinic, shelter, or other type of veterinary office nearby where they can complete their experiential requirements under the guidance of a licensed mentor, completing their skills checklists and doing coursework online. It’s important to note that the eligibility for distance-based programs varies by state (i.e., often referred to as “state authorization”). In fact, Minnesota has strict requirements about who can provide online education to its residents and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) maintains a list of approved out-of-state online institutions. Unfortunately for aspiring vet techs, none of the nine CVTEA-accredited online programs are included on this list as of March 2016. Aspiring vet techs seeking web-based classes are encouraged to check with program providers if Minnesota residents can enroll.
One distance-based option which does not mention Minnesota among its restricted states is at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). This online vet tech program requires two or three visits to the Loudoun campus per semester. Open to students employed in a vet office at least 20 hours weekly, NOVA offers online coursework in animal diseases, clinical practices, clinical pathology, and wildlife medicine. Finally, NOVA notes that preference is given to Virginia residents, although enrollment is open to other states as well. Eighty-eight percent of NOVA’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2012 and 2015.
To learn more about online programs for veterinary technicians, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.
Job Demand for Minnesota Vet Techs
For vet techs in MN and around the nation, opportunities are expected to explode in coming years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) projects that job openings in this field will swell 19 percent around the country between 2014 and 2024, substantially faster than the growth anticipated in all occupations during that time (7 percent). With 2,270 vet techs currently working in MN and the expected addition of 17,900 positions in this field nationwide, this makes for a very bright employment outlook in this field.
So how much money do vet techs make around the US and specifically in MN? According to the BLS (2014), vet techs had an annual average salary of $32,350 nationwide. Vet techs in MN, by contrast, stand to make slightly higher salaries and reported a mean annual salary of $33,310. In more granular terms, here were the annual salary percentiles nationwide among vet techs as reported by two data sources (BLS 2014):
- 10th percentile: $21,390
- 25th percentile: $25,740
- 50th percentile (median): $31,070
- 75th percentile: $37,590
- 90th percentile: $45,710
For comparison, Payscale (2016)—a popular aggregator of self-reported salaries—had similar percentiles among its 327 responding vet techs around the country:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
The annual salary percentiles for the 2,270 vet techs in MN were similar to the national averages (BLS 2014):
- 10th percentile: $24,970
- 25th percentile: $27,180
- 50th percentile (median): $30,910
- 75th percentile: $37,520
- 90th percentile: $46,900
It’s important to note that while many states reported higher salary averages among their vet techs, these regions may incur a higher cost of living as well. In fact, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that MN ranks twenty-eighth nationally on affordability with particular savings in housing and utility costs relative to other states.
Not surprisingly, the wages and number of working vet techs also vary by metropolitan region. While the Twin Cities had the highest number of vet techs employed overall, Rochester generally had the highest salaries. Here is a breakdown of the employment and salaries from the nine designated areas of MN (BLS 2014):
Duluth, MN-WI: 90 vet techs employed ($30,660 annual average salary)
- 10th percentile: $25,440
- 25th percentile: $26,950
- 50th percentile (median): $29,460
- 75th percentile: $33,580
- 90th percentile: $37,630
Mankato-North Mankato, MN: 40 vet techs employed (avg – $28,300)
- 10th percentile: $24,910
- 25th percentile: $26,170
- 50th percentile (median): $28,180
- 75th percentile: $30,190
- 90th percentile: $32,700
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI: 1,520 vet techs employed (avg – $33,090)
- 10th percentile: $25,490
- 25th percentile: $27,660
- 50th percentile (median): $31,450
- 75th percentile: $37,340
- 90th percentile: $44,580
Rochester, MN: 90 vet techs employed (avg – $40,030)
- 10th percentile: $25,210
- 25th percentile: $31,440
- 50th percentile (median): $38,050
- 75th percentile: $47,600
- 90th percentile: $58,850
St. Cloud, MN: 50 vet techs employed (avg – $30,920)
- 10th percentile: $22,080
- 25th percentile: $25,860
- 50th percentile (median): $30,070
- 75th percentile: $35,270
- 90th percentile: $38,950
Northwest Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area: 150 vet techs employed (avg – $36,520)
- 10th percentile: $22,860
- 25th percentile: $26,020
- 50th percentile (median): $30,360
- 75th percentile: $52,030
- 90th percentile: $58,670
Northeast Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area: 50 vet techs employed (avg – $31,920)
- 10th percentile: $22,870
- 25th percentile: $26,380
- 50th percentile (median): $30,810
- 75th percentile: $37,400
- 90th percentile: $43,230
Southwest Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area: 140 vet techs employed (avg – $31,570)
- 10th percentile: $21,060
- 25th percentile: $23,120
- 50th percentile (median): $26,580
- 75th percentile: $30,340
- 90th percentile: $56,720
Southeast Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area: 120 vet techs employed (avg – $35,190)
- 10th percentile: $26,140
- 25th percentile: $28,330
- 50th percentile (median): $32,760
- 75th percentile: $39,170
- 90th percentile: $51,160
Finally, these salaries also tend to vary by experience. Although the BLS does not keep salary data based on years on the job, Payscale (2016) provides the median annual salaries of veterinary technicians nationwide based on different brackets of experience:
- Entry-level (0-5 years): $26,000
- Mid-career (5-10 years): $31,000
- Experienced (10-20 years): $34,000
- Late-career (20+ years): $35,000
Veterinary technicians in Minnesota work in a gamut of environments, including veterinary hospitals, clinics, animal sanctuaries, national parks, zoos, wildlife refuges, laboratories, shelters, universities, farms, and more. Some of these animal healthcare professionals work typical business hours, whereas others may be called upon to work weekends, evenings, or holidays.
In addition to traditional job search websites such as Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and SimplyHired, the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians (MAVT) maintains an active job board for vet tech openings in the state in addition to continuing education (CE) opportunities and a monthly newsletter called “The Voice.” Additionally, MAVT provides a calendar of events with monthly board meetings and events across the state and seminars such as Developing Your X-ray Vision: Small Animal Thoracic and Abdominal Radiography (April 2016), Topics in Small Animal Dentistry (June 2016), and the annual National Vet Tech week (October 2016).
Aspiring vet techs in MN may choose to specialize to enhance their skills in one particular area of veterinary technology. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) designates many common specialties such as animal behavior, clinical pathology, zoological medicine, nutrition, dermatology, anaesthesia, equine nursing, internal medicine, dentistry, surgery, and rehabilitation.
To learn how to become a vet tech specialist (VTS) in a particular field, please visit the main veterinary technician page.
|Veterinary Career||Minnesota Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2014)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Certification in Minnesota
As mentioned in the introduction, veterinary technicians do not have to be certified to work in Minnesota. That said, the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians (MAVT) reports that there’s an ongoing effort to include vet tech credentialing under the MN Practice Act. Furthermore, becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) can be advisable to enhance one’s employment candidacy and potentially make the person eligible for licensure, certification, or registration in other states.
The main credentialing agency in MN is a joint committee, comprising the MAVT and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA). To become a CVT in Minnesota, candidates must graduate from a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), submit an application, and pay a $60 fee.
In order to maintain the credential, candidates must complete ten hours of continuing education (CE) annually. Here is a list of resources to fulfill CE requirements in MN:
- Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) – annual meeting, seminars
- Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians (MAVT) – convention, lectures
- University of Minnesota – seminars
- National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) – resource list
- VetMedTeam – online learning opportunities
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned above, to be eligible for certification in MN and most American states, students must graduate from a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a program-approval body founded by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVTEA weighs several factors in its accreditation process such as institutional accreditation, program finances, organization & communications, quality of physical facilities, resources for clinical work, admissions processes, and student outcomes. For a full examination of the program approval criteria, please visit the CVTEA accreditation procedure 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|
|No||CVT||Yes||Yes||Minnesota does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified as they are not included in the state’s “Practice Act.” If candidates choose, they can become certified through the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Board or join the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians (MAVT). 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.||Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians|