Vet Tech Programs in Minnesota

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 phenomenon 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.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2020), 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.

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.

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Dakota County Technical College 1300 145th Street East, Rosemount, Minnesota, 55068NoYes
Ridgewater College 2101 15th Ave NW, Willmar, Minnesota, 56201NoYes
Rochester Community and Technical College 851 30th Ave SE, Rochester, Minnesota, 55904-4999NoYes
Vermillion Community College 1900 E. Camp Street, Ely, Minnesota, 55731NoYes

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 four 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 Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount. Offering a 60 credit hour associate of applied science (AAS) degree, Dakota offers an academically rigorous program designed to prepare graduates to become a key component of an animal healthcare team. The program combines classroom, hands-on work, internships, and lab work to prepare students for work in clinical settings, research, or wildlife rescue.

Coursework in the program includes medical ethics, veterinary pharmacology, veterinary imaging, lab and exotic animals, and vet surgical nursing and dentistry. Dakota earned initial accreditation in 2018 and the pass rates for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—an examination often required as a prerequisite to employment—were not yet available.

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 65.5 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE among program graduates between 2016 and 2019.

Rochester Community and Technical College also offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology that includes general education courses as well as vet tech courses. The 75 credit program can be completed in two years on a full-time basis.

All students begin in the fall with the vet tech prerequisites. Those who complete these successfully are considered for advancement to the second semester and second year to complete the AAS degree. Courses include small animal care and management; veterinary surgical nursing and anesthesia; large animal procedures; veterinary office procedures; applied diagnostic imaging; and more. Rochester graduates had a 59.6 percent first-time pass rate on the VTNE between 2015 and 2018.

Vermilion Community College in Ely offers the only AVMA-accredited program in the northern part of the state. An academically rigorous 75 credit hours, the AAS program at Vermillion can be completed in five full-time semesters.

Coursework in the program includes animal husbandry, animal behavior, veterinary hospital procedures, small and large animal nursing, kennel/shelter medicine, and parasitology. After the first two years of coursework, students have the opportunity to complete a hands-on summer internship. Vermillion earned its initial accreditation in 2019, and as such does not yet have VTNE pass rates available to view.

Online Vet Tech Programs for Minnesota Students

For Minnesotans who have familial, professional, or other types of commitments that make attendance at a campus-based program difficult, there are currently several CVTEA-accredited, web-based vet tech programs. Typically these programs are suitable for people who have a clinic, shelter, or another 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. 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. Notably, 83.67 percent of NOVA’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2016 and 2019.

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 the coming years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) projects that job openings in this field will swell 16 percent around the country between 2019 and 2029, substantially faster than the growth anticipated in all occupations during that time (4 percent). With 3,000 vet techs currently working in MN and the expected addition of 18,300 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 (May 2019), vet techs had an annual average salary of $36,670 nationwide. Vet techs in MN, by contrast, stand to make slightly higher salaries and reported a mean annual salary of $38,980. In more granular terms, here were the annual salary percentiles nationwide among vet techs (BLS 2019):

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

The annual salary percentiles for the 3,000 vet techs in MN were similar or slightly higher than the national averages (BLS 2019):

  • 10th percentile: $29,520
  • 25th percentile: $33,410
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,510
  • 75th percentile: $44,190
  • 90th percentile: $51,440

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, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that MN ranks 30th nationally on affordability with particular savings in housing and utility costs relative to other states.

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 such as The Anorexic Rabbit (September 2020), the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference (September 2020), and Equine Endocrinopathies: Diagnosis and Management in the Field (November 2020).

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, 2019)
Low Salary (10th %ile) Average Salary (50th %ile) High Salary (90th %ile)
Vet Tech 3,000 $29,520 $37,510 $51,440
Vet Assistant 1,290 $22,950 $28,810 $37,980

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.

Becca Brewer (Writer)

Becca is the co-founder of Limitless: An Adventure to Build a Better Future on a Thriving Earth. Limitless exists to inspire everyday people to join the millions of people across our planet who are already taking small and mighty steps to heal our earth in their everyday lives. To move people into action, Becca and her travel partner, Léandre Deryckere, share the life stories of everyday earth healers and impart what they learn as they tackle environmental projects around the globe. You can follow the adventure on Instagram at @LimitlessEcoAdventure, and join the project at Limitless.Eco.