In the Magnolia State, the tradition of advocating for animal rights is strong. AAIM–Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi–is an organization dedicated to lobbying for animal welfare issues in MS. AAIM seeks to “protect and/or promote the physical and psychological well-being of animals.” Mississippi (MS) also has a number of groups and businesses committed to animal-loving causes.
By illustration, the Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) is a non-profit working toward being a zero-kill shelter. With abundant adoption services and a 40,000 square foot facility modeled after a children’s museum, HSSM continues to be one of the leading organizations in promoting animal causes throughout the Hospitality State.
One way for people to turn their love of animals into a career is by becoming a veterinary technician. This career has a relatively quick entry-level education to get started—two years for most accredited vet tech programs—and it’s a high-growth field in Mississippi.
So what do veterinary technicians do? According to the Mississippi Veterinary Practice Act, vet techs must be professionally certified, and the state officially distinguishes between vet technicians and technologists. The former are typically graduates of a two-year post-secondary program, whereas the latter have graduated from a four-year program.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) reports that vet techs in MS have a wealth of important responsibilities in an animal healthcare environment, including restraining animals for veterinarians; assisting licensed vets with common procedures (e.g., dentistry, surgery, anesthesia, diagnostic imaging); performing laboratory tests on samples (e.g., animal bodily fluids); keeping detailed patient records; administering first aid; managing a veterinary clinic or office; maintaining pharmaceutical inventories; sterilizing equipment or surgical rooms; and giving pet owners information about proper animal care and nutrition.
Read on to learn more about the career and salary outlook for vet techs in MS, as well as to explore accredited educational programs and professional certification information.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Hinds Community College||501 East Main Street, Raymond, Mississippi, 39154||No||Yes|
|Mississippi State University||240 Wise Center Drive, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762||No||Yes|
Accredited Mississippi Vet Tech Programs
In the Hospitality State, veterinary technicians typically graduate from a two- to four-year program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) main program-approval body in the country. To learn more about the accreditation process, please reference the last section of this article.
In order to gain entry into a program in veterinary technology in MS, candidates typically need to submit the following:
- Official transcripts from secondary school with proof of having completed specific classes (e.g., biology, algebra, English)
- Proof of health insurance or immunizations
- Test scores (e.g., TOEFL for non-native speakers of English)
- Personal statement
Please note that some programs also call for experience working with animals, letters of recommendation, candidate interviews (e.g., phone, in-person, video-based), or additional college entrance exams.
There are currently two CVTEA-accredited programs in MS, located at Mississippi State University (MSU) and Hinds Community College (HCC).
Mississippi State University (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine offers one of the few bachelor of science (BS) in veterinary medical technology programs in the country. It takes four years to complete and takes place in a collaborative learning environment combining both hands-on clinical experience and extensive coursework. Courses include applied anatomy and physiology for veterinary technologists; husbandry and nutrition; parasitology; small animal technician skills and nursing; pharmacology and toxicology; hematology and immunology; surgical skills; and a Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) preparatory class.
The VTNE is the predominant credentialing exam for vet techs across the country, and programs are required to divulge their three-year passing rates among graduates. 67.92 percent of first-time test-takers from MSU passed the VTNE between 2016 and 2019.
A second CVTEA-accredited program can be found at Hinds Community College (HCC) of Raymond. HCC offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. This two-year program includes coursework in animal restraint and medication; animal healthcare; principles of imaging; veterinary mathematics; surgical and hospital techniques; and several units of lab evaluations.
Please note that this program has a hybrid option for students who want to learn in both online and in-person formats. HCC also requires a candidate interview and a minimum of 30 observation hours in an animal healthcare setting for applicants to the program. Once students graduate they are eligible for both the VTNE and the Assistant Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification exam. Between 2015 and 2018, 60.17 percent of graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs for Students in Mississippi
In addition to HCC’s hybrid program in veterinary technology, there are currently several CVTEA-accredited, distance-based programs. Online and hybrid programs typically feature online coursework with supervised clinical sections in approved veterinary care settings. Licensed veterinarians and other qualified personnel sign off on skills learned at clinics located close to a student’s home.
One option is available at Cedar Valley College of Lancaster, TX which provides an online associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. Classes at Cedar Valley include surgical preparation and assistance; veterinary office management; laboratory and examination procedures; radiology and ultrasound; and pharmacy and pharmacology. The multimedia approach to learning about veterinary technology must be proving effective since it’s the only AVMA-accredited program also recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
All courses, except general education courses, are offered during every semester. Students can enroll in as many classes as fit their schedule–one, two, three, or even more–and courses are offered in the fall, spring, and summer. Notably, 68 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020.
Colby Community College (CCC) of Kansas provides another online AAS in veterinary technology with classes such as zoology; principles of animal science; breeds of domestic animals; veterinary clinical procedures; and veterinary technician microbiology. This 82-credit program includes labs and work with veterinary hospitals to complete the required clinical hours.
Students can also attend optional on-campus mentorships during the weekends covering microbiology, large animals, and lab animals/exotic pets. 76.5 percent of CCC’s distance learning program graduates passed the VTNE between 2017 and 2020.
To discover more distance-based training in veterinary technology, please visit the online vet tech programs page.
Demand for Vet Techs in Mississippi
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) projects that openings in this field will increase nationwide by 16 percent between 2019 and 2029. This is four times the average growth anticipated for all jobs during that time period (4 percent) and will result in 18,300 new openings across the country in this field.
Second, although the wages for veterinary technicians are relatively low in Mississippi, the cost of living in MS is also incredibly low and therefore those same wages exert more purchasing power.
Vet Tech Salary in Mississippi
Average wages for veterinary technicians are close to the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) reported that the 110,650 vet techs working across the US had an average annual salary of $36,670. In MS, the mean annual salary for this profession was $35,890, just slightly higher than the national average.
To put the numbers into perspective, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020), ranks the Magnolia State as the most affordable in the country. With significant savings in housing, a vet tech’s salary may go further than in other states.
Here are how vet tech salaries in Mississippi compare to U.S. averages by percentile (BLS 2019):
|Number of vet techs employed||110,650||360|
|Average annual salary||$36,670||$35,890|
|50th percentile (median)||$35,320||$33,200|
Where Are Mississippi Vet Techs Employed?
There is a wealth of places for vet techs to work in MS, including animal hospitals, private veterinary clinics, federal and state regulatory agencies, zoos, specialty practices (e.g., avian, equine, wildlife), laboratories, public health organizations, aquariums, shelters, humane societies, pet stores, pharmaceutical companies, livestock yards, farms, biomedical research organizations, universities, and kennels. Some MS vet techs work traditional hours, whereas others may have to work weekends, holidays, or evenings to address needs of animal patients.
There are a variety of resources for veterinary job-hunters in Mississippi. In addition to services such as LinkedIn, Monster, and CareerBuilder, iHireVeterinary offers continually updated listings at facilities such as Southern Veterinary Partners, Banfield Pet Hospital, and Mississippi State University. The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) also provides a list of jobs with opportunities in MS and neighboring states.
It’s important to note that vet techs in MS and beyond may choose to specialize their skills in order to enhance their employment prospects and salary potential. To become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), candidates typically need to have advanced training in a specific area, years of experience in the field, letters of recommendation, and a passing score on an exam. These specialty academies and societies have been designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA), and include areas such as animal behavior, surgery, critical care, nutrition, dermatology, zoological medicine, equine nursing, and other subfields.
To discover how to become a VTS, please check out the vet tech career page.
|Veterinary Career||Mississippi Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2019)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Certification in Mississippi
The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Board (MVMB) is the main organization that approves credentials for certified veterinary technicians (CVTs), who may also be referred to as certified animal technicians or technologists. Becoming a CVT is mandatory prior to practicing veterinary technology in MS.
To qualify, candidates must send:
- Official VTNE scores
- Copy of diploma or college transcript, ideally from an AVMA-accredited program
- Processing fee ($100)
- Passport-style photo
- Three letters of recommendation
To maintain this one-year certification, candidates must complete ten hours of continuing education (CE) annually and submit a renewal application. There is a wealth of resources available recommended by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) for online CE such as:
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned above, graduating from a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) program-approval agency—is recommended for aspiring vet techs in the state of Mississippi. The CVTEA weighs factors such as:
- Program organization and communications
- Quality of facilities and equipment
- Clinical training resources available
- Admissions processes
- Effectiveness of faculty and staff
- Curriculum comprehensiveness
- Student outcomes
Please check out the CVTEA accreditation page for more information about each of these factors and to learn more about the importance of the process.