In the Show-Me State, there’s a widespread consciousness concerning the wellbeing of animals. The Humane Society of Missouri is one of the most active in the country, hosting a gamut of fundraising events, volunteering opportunities, and animal education seminars for people of all ages. They offer no-fee adoptions for adult cats every Thursday, and host events like Barktoberfest, which is a dog-focused version of Oktoberfest. Other activities include Glow in the Park, Bark in the Park, Purses & Pumps for Pooches & Pals, and Yappy Hour.
One relatively quick way for animal-lovers in Missouri (MO) to put their passion for animal advocacy to action is to become a veterinary technician (vet tech). Many of these veterinary professionals hold two-year (rather than four-year) degrees. O*NET (2020)—an affiliate of the US Department of Labor—reported that 26 percent of vet techs nationwide hold associate degrees. Furthermore, there’s a supportive climate for these workers in MO.
The Missouri Veterinary Technicians Association (MVTA) was created in 1974 and its mission is “to represent, promote and advance the field of veterinary technology through education, legislation and by providing superior animal care.” In addition to a scholarship program for vet tech students, the MVTA also has job-related tips, continuing education (CE) opportunities, and a volunteer board for entities such as the Missouri Volunteer Veterinary Corps.
According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), these animal healthcare workers have a range of responsibilities such as helping licensed veterinarians with procedures (e.g., dental, radiological, anesthetic, surgical); taking and testing laboratory samples; maintaining vet patient records and pharmaceutical inventories; providing basic first aid to animals; keeping facilities and equipment sterile; and educating pet-owners on all aspects of proper animal care. Additionally, the scope of practice in this profession varies by state.
In Missouri, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2019) reports that registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) can perform several procedures under the direct supervision of a vet including applying casts and inserting catheters. According to this state’s relatively generous laws of veterinary practice, MO vet techs may also give emergency treatment to animals “gratuitously and in good faith” and will not be liable for damages.
This article discusses the high demand for veterinary technicians in MO, as well as their salary prospects, accredited college programs, and how to become registered in this profession.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Crowder College||601 Laclede Ave, Neosho, Missouri, 64850||No||Yes|
|Jefferson College||1000 Viking Drive, Hillsboro, Missouri, 63050-2440||No||Yes|
|Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods||2601 NE Barry Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 64156||No||Yes|
|Midwest Institute||2 Soccer Park Rd, Fenton, Missouri, 63026||No||Yes|
CVTEA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs In Missouri
As mentioned in the introduction, 26 percent of vet techs nationwide hold associate degrees (O*NET 2020). In Missouri, it is advisable to seek out a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA is the gold standard in vet tech program accreditation, and while graduating from one of these programs isn’t mandatory to qualify for professional registration in the state, the board has the sole authority to decide whether or not a non-AVMA program qualifies one for credentialing. To learn more about how programs are accredited, please visit the final section of this article.
Luckily for aspiring vet techs in Missouri, there are currently four CVTEA-accredited programs in the state.
Crowder College of Neosho offers an accredited AAS program in veterinary technology. This 78 credit hour program takes place on a campus well-designed for aspiring vet techs including more than 300 acres of farmland, several barns with corrals, an indoor kennel for small animals, and an outdoor dog kennel. The Agricultural Science Center also offers a surgery, anatomy lab x-ray, and field technology.
Applicants must have completed prerequisites as well as have observed or worked with a licensed veterinarian for at least 20 hours. Courses include farm animal health; radiology and electronic procedures; chemistry for health sciences; laboratory animal/avian technology; large animal medicine/surgery; and more. Students also participate in labs and two clinical experiences, as well as a board review. Eighty-three percent of this program’s graduates between 2018 and 2020 passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) on their first attempt.
Jefferson College offers another CVTEA-accredited AAS degree in veterinary technology. Courses in this program include applied pharmacology; microbiology for the health sciences; principles of clinical medicine; veterinary hospital technology; applied radiology; large animal technology; and more. Students also complete a capstone course and a clinical internship. Graduates have a first-time pass rate on the VTNE of 76.36 percent between 2017 and 2020.
Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods of Kansas City also offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. MCCKC has had AVMA accreditation since 1975 and hosts clinical experiences with 12 distinct animal species in its competitive program.
Courses include laboratory animal technology; veterinary hospital technology; radiology and electronic procedures; clinical pathology techniques; veterinary practice management; and more. Students also complete a preceptorship during the program. Impressively, 93 percent of MCCKC’s graduates between 2016 and 2019 passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Finally, Midwest Institute in Fenton, MO, offers a very hands-on associate of occupational science (AOS) veterinary technician program. Upon graduation, students are able to administer anesthesia to animals, prepare them for surgery, administer medications and vaccines, provide nursing and emergency care to patients, take x-rays, and more.
Courses include public health and parasitology; medical business; veterinary office computing; employment preparation; applied veterinary pharmacology; and more. In addition to labs, students complete a veterinary assisting internship. The program is designed to be completed in 64 weeks. Between 2017 and 2020, 51.2 percent of those who completed the Midwest Institute AOS program passed the VTNE on their first try.
Distance-Based Vet Tech Programs
While some prospective veterinary technicians may prefer the more traditional brick-and-mortar experience of a college program, others with time commitments or those who live in rural regions may not have easy access to an on-campus program.
Fortunately, there are also several CVTEA-accredited online programs in veterinary technology. These typically combine rigorous web-based coursework and in-person clinical practicums to be completed at a facility close to a student’s home. As skills are acquired, a supervisor—generally a licensed veterinarian—signs off on a student’s capabilities.
Colby Community College of Kansas provides a distance learning veterinary nursing program which involves classes such as veterinary immunology, parasitology, pharmacology, hematology, imaging, clinical chemistry, large animal clinical procedures, and veterinary cytology. In order for a preceptor to qualify for the clinical portion of a student’s training, it must have at least one licensed veterinarian on staff who is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Notably, 76.5 percent of distance learning students passed the VTNE exam on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020. Please note that students must complete several prerequisite courses to qualify (e.g., biology), a list of which is available on Colby’s website.
Another option is the online associate in science (AS) available at St. Petersburg College of Florida. Courses include small animal breeds & behavior; animal physiology; animal nursing; anesthesia; veterinary medical terminology; animal emergency medicine; large animal diseases; and avian & exotic pet medicine. Notably, 74 percent of graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2016 and 2019.
To learn more about the distance-based programs in veterinary technology, please visit the main online vet tech programs page.
Job Demand for Missouri Vet Techs
For Missouri residents interested in a career in animal healthcare, there is excellent news: this is a high-growth professional field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020), there will be an anticipated 16 percent increase in job openings between 2019 and 2029 for veterinary technicians nationwide. This figure is four times the average growth expected across all occupations in that time period (4 percent).
With a projected growth rate of 30 percent between 2016 and 2026, CareerOneStop (2020)—an affiliate of the US Department of Labor—adds that vet techs occupy the fastest growing career in MO for people with associate degrees.
Where Do Vet Techs In Missouri Work?
Veterinary technicians in MO can seek employment in many environments including veterinary hospitals, clinics, farms, zoos, animal rescue centers, government regulatory agencies, biomedical research labs, universities, specialty clinics (e.g., avian, equine), aquariums, animal control facilities, shelters, kennels, and wildlife centers.
While some vet techs in MO work typical business hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, holidays, or weekends to serve the needs of their veterinary patients, particularly those seeking emergency treatment or recovering from surgery.
iHireVeterinary has posted job opportunities for MO vet techs at places such as Varsity Tutors, Banfield Pet Hospital, Washington University, Kirkwood Animal Hospital, and MRI Global. Indeed (2020) listed openings at Circle of Life Animal Hospital, Elm Point Animal Hospital, Carter Pet Hospital, Angel Animal Hospital, Associated Veterinary Specialists, Lebanon Veterinary Clinic, Raymore Veterinary Center, and more. In sum, there’s no shortage of employment opportunities in this state.
Finally, some MO vet techs choose to become veterinary technician specialists (VTS) to enhance their career opportunities. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes several academies which offer professional certification across subfields of veterinary technology such as anesthesia & analgesia, animal behavior, clinical pathology, dentistry, equine nursing, emergency & critical care, nutrition, internal medicine, and zoological medicine. To become a VTS, candidates typically need to have at least 1,000 hours of experience in a specialized discipline and pass a comprehensive exam. To learn in detail how to become a VTS, check out the vet tech careers page.
Missouri Vet Tech Salary Data
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for the 110,650 vet techs in the U.S. as of May 2019 was $36,670. In the same year, the 1,780 vet techs in Missouri made an average annual salary of $32,670 – nearly 9 percent less than the national average. To put this salary into perspective, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that MO is the fifth most affordable state in the US, boasting savings across every category, with deep savings in housing.
Here are how vet tech salaries in Missouri compare to national averages (BLS May 2019):
|Number of vet techs employed||110,650||1,780|
|Average annual salary||$36,670||$32,670|
|50th percentile (median)||$35,320||$29,700|
|Veterinary Career||Missouri Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2019)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Missouri Vet Tech Registration – Becoming an RVT
In the Show-Me State, veterinary technicians must be registered prior to practice. The main credentialing authority is the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board which requires the following from candidates for vet tech registration:
- Completed application with fee
- Official transcripts from a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) or a program otherwise approved by the Board
- Two passport-style photos
- Official VTNE scores (minimum 425 points)
- Signed employment verification
- Passing scores on the Missouri State Board Examination (minimum 70 percent)
Finally, to maintain active status as a registered veterinary technician (RVT), candidates must renew their registration annually by November 30th following the completion of at least five hours of continuing education (CE). In addition to qualifying in-person events, seminars, and conferences, there are online CE opportunities available at:
- Veterinary Support Personnel Network (VSPN)
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned in the discussion of programs, the gold standard for vet tech program accreditation in MO and nationwide the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA evaluates several factors in its program-approval process, including:
- Student outcomes (e.g., VTNE first-time pass rates among graduates)
- School & program finances
- Organizational effectiveness
- Quality of facilities
- Clinical practicum opportunities
- Availability of libraries & student resources (e.g., campus groups)
- Admissions criteria
- Quality of faculty & staff
To learn more about the veterinary technician program accreditation process, please visit the CVTEA accreditation standards page.