Veterinary Technician Schools in Montana


Montana is synonymous with natural beauty. Home to expansive wilderness, including Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, as well as hardworking ranchers, Big Sky Country has a special relationship with its animals. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) works to conserve antelope, bats, beavers, bighorn sheep, black bears, bobcats, deer, elk, grizzlies, moose, mountain goats, mountain lions, grouse, and wolves through rigorous research utilized by the FWP wildlife team, external parties, and the public.

The Animal Health Bureau in Montana provides education to animal owners, livestock producers, and vets to safeguard the health and food production capacity within the state. Montana’s pets also have a resource in the Humane Society of Western Montana, which has a 98 percent adoption rate, offers microchip identification, rehoming, and pet/owner reunion services.

Becoming an animal nurse in the fourth largest state in the U.S. (by landmass) is no easy task, which is why the Big Sky Veterinary Technician Association (BSVTA) exists. With a mission to advance the vet tech profession in Montana, BSVTA provides vet techs in Montana with continuing education opportunities, maintains an active job board, helps vet techs to get certified, and provides a professional network for all vet techs in the state.

There are no explicit requirements for veterinary technicians in Montana to become certified. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2024) the supervising veterinarian in Montana is responsible for determining if support staff has the competencies to assist with diagnosis, treatment, surgical, and other animal caretaking tasks. Someone with a high school diploma and without formalized training could have worked as a – vet tech in Montana, if a veterinarian was willing to take them on.

However, according to CareerOneStop (2024)—a U.S. government site that sources its data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—only 16 percent of vet techs have a high school diploma or less. While becoming certified was not required prior to 2023, having enough training to become certified may be useful to those who wish to be more competitive in the Montana vet tech job marketplace.

In 2021, Montana passed SB 106, which requires vet techs to be licensed. To be licensed, a vet tech must have graduated from an AVMA-accredited program and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), among other things. “The bill also allows individuals to obtain licensure by documenting 4,500 hours of experience and passing an examination approved by the Montana veterinary board.” The licensing requirements went into effect January 1, 2023.

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Pima Medical Institute-Dillon 434 E. Poindexter Street, Dillon, Montana, 59725NoYes*


There is one veterinary technology program accredited by the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).

Pima Medical Institute offers a veterinary technician associate of applied science (AAS) degree at a campus in Dillon, Montana. The hybrid online and on-campus 78.5-credit-hour program takes 18 months to complete as a day student. The combination of didactic, lab, and externship hours equals 1,775 hours. Pima students will take courses that include equine medicine and nursing, food and fiber animal, diagnostic imaging for veterinary technicians, laboratory animal science, small animal nursing, dentistry techniques, clinic surgery and lab, and much more.

The externship requires students to complete 225 hours of hands-on learning with a board-certified vet. Between 2020 and 2024, 74 percent of the graduates of the Pima vet tech program in Dillon passed their VTNE on the first try.

*Note that while the school has been accredited since 2017, it is currently on voluntary terminal accreditation. “Programs on TERMINAL accreditation have plans for voluntary closure. Programs on TERMINAL accreditation are still officially accredited.” Aspiring techs are advised to confirm that Pima Medical is still accepting students and that they will be able to complete the program before enrolling.

Online Vet Tech Programs for Montana Students

Students who wish to pursue an AVMA-accredited education within the state of Montana may also participate in distance learning through an online CVTEA-accredited program, such as those that follow.

Most students may have heard of Purdue University in Indiana, but may not have known that the school offers an online vet tech program. The program has full AVMA accreditation and students who graduate receive an associate of science (AAS) degree. The program includes a range of animal care courses and subjects, such as:

  • Anesthesia
  • Animal care
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Pre- and post-surgical care
  • Radiology

Students in this program complete 18 clinical mentorships in addition to courses. The first-time VTNE pass rate for graduates of the Purdue program was 92.9 percent through the distance learning program and 86.8 percent through their on-campus program (2020 to 2023).

Penn Foster College in Scottsdale, AZ, offers another option for online vet tech learning. The school has full AVMA accreditation and offers an associate of science (AAS) degree for aspiring veterinary technicians. Students in the vet tech program take courses in many different subjects and learn how to do many things, such as:

  • Administer medications or anesthesia
  • Collect lab samples
  • Prepare animals for surgery
  • Provide first aid
  • Record case histories

Students in this program complete two clinical externships working with veterinarians and veterinary technicians. In partnership with Banfield Pet Hospital, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, and VCA Animal Hospital, Penn Foster offers excellent opportunities for hands-on training throughout the United States. Graduates have a first-time VTNE pass rate of 78.2 percent between 2020 and 2023.

A third online option is San Juan College. Like the two preceding schools, it has AVMA accreditation and offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree through online learning. The program prepares students to take the VTNE and includes asynchronous online courses in combination with hands-on exercises and labs that take place in veterinary practices. Students are evaluated through web-based assessments at clinics in their area.

Students must be employed by a veterinarian beginning in tier two classes. Courses in this program include general education courses as well as vet tech-specific courses such as vet nursing care; vet diagnostic imaging; small animal disease and medical care; pharmacy and medical therapeutics; vet anesthesia and surgical assisting; vet business procedures; and much more. Graduates from this program have a first-time pass rate on the VTNE of 84.62 percent (2020 to 2023).

Students should check to see what types of clinical training online programs offer. Some programs can connect the students with shelters, clinics, hospitals, and other locations so that students can complete the practical portions of their schooling via externships. For more information visit our online vet tech programs page.

How to Become a Vet Tech in Montana

There is no single path to become a veterinary technician, but there are a few things that must be accomplished before vet techs are likely to find a job. The most common path is as follows:

Step 1: Graduate High School (Four Years) – An aspiring veterinary technician would be hard-pressed to find a job without a high school diploma or GED, and it is a prerequisite for applying to vet tech undergraduate programs. In high school, students should be sure to focus on relevant subjects including natural sciences such as biology and chemistry. High school students may also find volunteering at a local animal shelter to be a good way to gain some relevant experience.

Step 2: Complete an Accredited Vet Tech Program (Two Years) – Veterinary technician programs generally take just two years to complete and result in an Associate of Science degree. Vet techs for whom licensure is important must select a vet tech program that has been accredited by the AVMA.

Step 3: Take the VTNE (Timeline Varies) – Veterinary Technician National Exam is another certification prerequisite. You must graduate from an AVMA-accredited program in order to qualify for the VTNE exam. The exam is offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards and currently has an associated fee of $330. Vet techs can take the exam during any of three windows throughout the year.

Step 4: Apply for Licensure in Montana (Timeline Varies) – Licensure for vet techs is not offered through a national organization. Techs who have successfully completed the VTNE must apply for licensing. Licensing is regulated by the Montana Board of Veterinary Medicine, effective January 1, 2023.

Step 5: Renew Licensure (Timeline Varies) Renewal is available online only and requires registration with the Board. Applicants then submit a completed application and approved continuing education credits. In Montana, continuing education hours can consist of meetings, magazines, and online courses that are approved by AVMA, MVMA, AHHA, and RACE approved. Only four hours can be from alternative continuing education such as online or magazine courses.

Demand for Vet Techs in Montana

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023), the demand for vet techs is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2022 to 2032, making it a much faster-growing occupation than the average for all occupations (3 percent).

In Montana, specifically, things look even brighter. According to Projections Central (2024), the demand for vet techs in Montana is expected to grow by 45 percent from 2020 to 2030, which means an expected additional 270 jobs for vet techs during that span. In addition, veterinary technologist and technician employment is the fourth fastest-growing occupation among those with associate’s degrees in MT (CareerOneStop 2024).

On a national scale, the BLS (May 2023) reported that there were 122,000 American vet techs with an annual average salary of $44,040. In comparison, Montana currently employs 650 veterinary technicians who make an average salary of $39,590 per year (BLS May 2023). By percentile, here is the breakdown of annual salaries for vet techs in Montana and across the country:

United States Montana
Number of vet tech professionals employed 122,000 650
Annual mean wage $44,040 $39,590
10th percentile $30,180 $30,630
25th percentile $36,340 $35,730
50th percentile (median) $43,740 $37,700
75th percentile $48,900 $46,530
90th percentile $59,310 $48,930

Montana veterinary technicians had somewhat lower wages than national averages. Considering MT is thirty-third in the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC 2024) cost of living data series, MT vet techs may be wise to consider how far their dollar will go. While Montana residents pay less than the national average for utilities,and health, they pay more than average for housing, transportation, and groceries.

National groups like the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) and local organizations such as the Big Sky Veterinary Technician Association (BSVTA) offer great opportunities for vet techs to find out about training opportunities, network with other vet techs and otherwise establish a sense of community within the profession. The BSVTA site offers information on continuing education opportunities and employment opportunities listed on the site, both assets for veterinary technicians trying to break into the field.

Veterinary Career Montana Jobs SALARY DATA (BLS May 2023)
Low Salary (10th %ile) Median Salary (50TH %ile) High Salary (90th %ile)
Vet Tech 650 $30,630 $37,700 $48,930
Vet Assistant 600 $28,790 $35,490 $38,160

Program Accreditation & Vet Tech Licensure

Prior to 2023, Montana vet tech who chose to be certified applied through the BSVTA and met at least one of the following requirements:

  • You must have graduated from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program and must have passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
  • You must have worked consecutively in the capacity of a veterinary technician for five or more years, and must have passed the VTNE by December 31, 2006.
  • Reciprocity is granted for technicians currently registered, licensed, or certified in another state.

In 2021, Montana passed SB 106, which requires vet techs to be licensed. To be licensed, a vet tech must have graduated from an AVMA-accredited program and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), among other things. “The bill also allows individuals to obtain licensure by documenting 4,500 hours of experience and passing an examination approved by the Montana veterinary board.” Licensing is regulated by the Montana Board of Veterinary Medicine. Vet techs with BSVTA certification may be able to transfer their credentials to their license application.

AVMA accreditation means that a vet tech program meets the standards of the AVMA in terms of faculty, facilities, and curriculum. As vet tech education expands in Montana, it is hopeful that more than one CVTEA-accredited vet tech program will open up in the state in the future.

Jocelyn Blore (Chief Content Strategist)

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as an English teacher and freelance writer. After stints in England, Japan, and Brazil, she settled in San Francisco and worked as a managing editor for a tech company. When not writing about veterinary technology, nursing, engineering, and other career fields, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor.