In the Magnolia State, the tradition of advocating for animal rights is strong. MS News Now (2015) reported that a group of 30 activists recently protested the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, an organization with a history of discouraging animal protections and anti-cruelty legislation. Mississippi (MS) also has a number of groups and businesses committed to animal-loving causes. By illustration, the Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM 2016) 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 MS. 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 postsecondary program, whereas the latter have graduated from a four-year program. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA 2016) 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.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Mississippi
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Hinds Community College||505 East Main Street, Raymond, Mississippi, 39154||No||Yes|
|Mississippi State University||Lee Boulevard, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762||No||Yes|
|Northwest Mississippi Community College||4975 Hwy 51 N, Senatobia, Mississippi, 38668-1714||No||No|
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) offers one of the few bachelor of science (BS) in veterinary medical technology programs in the country. It takes four years to complete in a collaborative learning environment combining both hands-on clinical experience and courses such as applied anatomy & physiology for veterinary technologists; husbandry & nutrition; parasitology; small animal technician skills & nursing; pharmacology & toxicology; hematology & 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. Impressively, 82 percent of first-time test-takers from MSU passed the VTNE between 2012 and 2015.
Hinds Community College (HCC) of Raymond provides an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. This two-year program includes coursework in animal restraint & medication; animal healthcare; principles of imaging; veterinary mathematics; surgical & 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. Between 2011 and 2014, an incredible 92.3 percent of graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs
In addition to HCC’s hybrid program in veterinary technology, there are currently nine 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 & assistance; veterinary office management; laboratory & examination procedures; radiology & ultrasound; and pharmacy & 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). Seventy-eight percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2011 and 2014. 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. Sixty-four percent of CCC’s on-campus program graduates passed the VTNE between 2012 and 2015.
To discover more distance-based training in veterinary technology, please visit the online vet tech programs page.
Demand for Vet Techs in Mississippi
For people looking to become vet techs in MS, there is a lot of good news. First, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) projects that openings in this field will increase nationwide 19 percent between 2014 and 2024. This is nearly three times the average growth anticipated for all jobs during that time period (7 percent) and will result in 17,900 new openings across the country in this field. Second, although the wages for veterinary technicians in Mississippi are slightly lower than national averages, the cost of living in MS is also incredibly low and therefore those same wages exert more purchasing power. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2015) found that MS is the most affordable state in the US, boasting particular savings in housing, transportation, and utilities.
Vet Tech Salary in MS
Impressively, although the Magnolia State is the most affordable state in the country, its average wages for veterinary technicians are similar to national averages. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that the 95,790 vet techs working across the US had an average annual salary of $33,280. In MS, the mean annual salary in this profession was $32,020. By comparison, Indeed (2016) found an annual average salary of $31,000 for vet techs in MS which was 5 percent higher than national averages in this occupation!
In more detailed terms, the BLS (2015) found the following salary ranges for vet techs:
United States (95,790 vet techs employed)
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
Mississippi (480 vet techs employed)
- 10th percentile: $20,500
- 25th percentile: $23,600
- 50th percentile (median): $28,380
- 75th percentile: $36,010
- 90th percentile: $53,270
For comparison, Payscale (May 2016)—a company which relies on self-reported salary data—found similar salary ranges among its 327 responding vet techs:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
In hourly terms, the BLS (May 2015) reported an average hourly wage of $16.00/hour for vet techs nationwide, and $15.40/hr. for those in MS. Here were the hourly wage percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.52/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.67/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $15.29/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.50/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.80/hr.
- 10th percentile: $9.86/hr.
- 25th percentile: $11.35/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $13.65/hr.
- 75th percentile: $17.31/hr.
- 90th percentile: $25.61/hr.
Not shockingly, these wages also tended to vary by region of MS. Interestingly, the northeast nonmetropolitan area of the state boasted a higher than expected average salary in this profession among its 100 working vet techs. Here are the number of vet techs working, annual wage averages, and percentiles among the five BLS-designated regions in MS (BLS May 2015):
Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS (50 vet techs employed): $26,420 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $20,780
- 25th percentile: $22,340
- 50th percentile (median): $25,000
- 75th percentile: $28,830
- 90th percentile: $31,160
Hattiesburg, MS (60 employed): $25,870 avg.
- 10th percentile: $19,220
- 25th percentile: $21,300
- 50th percentile (median): $24,460
- 75th percentile: $29,000
- 90th percentile: $32,630
Jackson, MS (130 employed): $31,760 avg.
- 10th percentile: $18,630
- 25th percentile: $24,010
- 50th percentile (median): $29,100
- 75th percentile: $35,900
- 90th percentile: $48,430
Northeast Mississippi Nonmetropolitan Area (100 employed): $33,210 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,310
- 25th percentile: $25,260
- 50th percentile (median): $31,270
- 75th percentile: $39,470
- 90th percentile: $48,340
Southeast Mississippi Nonmetropolitan Area (30 employed): $30,090 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,380
- 25th percentile: $23,470
- 50th percentile (median): $26,560
- 75th percentile: $29,710
- 90th percentile: $54,030
Where Are MS 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 is 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 the Desoto County Animal Clinic, Banfield Pet Hospital, PETCO, and Koch Davis. The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) also provides a list of jobs with opportunities at not only in MS, but in nearby states as well.
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 speciality 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, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Certification in Mississippi
The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Board (MVMB) is the main organization that credentials certified veterinary technicians (CVTs), also 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 & communications
- Quality of facilities & equipment
- Clinical training resources available
- Admissions processes
- Effectiveness of faculty & staff
- Curriculum comprehensiveness
- Student outcomes
Please check out the CVTEA accreditation page for more information about each of these factors and to learn more on the importance of the process.
|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|
|Yes||CVT||No||Yes||Candidates must submit three letters of recommendation.||Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association|