For animal-lovers in the Garden State seeking a fast-tracked veterinary career, there are both accredited schools and many opportunities in New Jersey (NJ). With 3,210 veterinary technicians and technologists currently employed in NJ and a projected national increase of 19 percent, veterinary technicians should find ample opportunity to work with animals (Bureau of Labor and Statistics OOH 2019).
While becoming a licensed veterinarian can require eight years of post-secondary education and additional time in residency, joining an animal healthcare clinic as an entry-level vet tech typically only requires a two-year associate degree. Furthermore, in New Jersey, these professionals are given more clinical independence than vet techs in many other states. To illustrate, NJ does not require vet tech professional licensure and offers a more generous scope of practice.
By comparison, a majority of US states require licensure and detail what vet techs are permitted to do.
Although professional licensure is not necessary for NJ vet techs, it can be advisable to enhance one’s career prospects. The predominant credentialing agency is the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians & Assistants (NJVTA), which provides many resources in addition to vet tech certification, including continuing education (CE) opportunities, professional development events, and networking. Founded as a non-profit in 1972, NJVTA strives to ensure that its members uphold the Veterinary Technician’s Oath:
I solemnly dedicate myself to aiding animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, by alleviating animal suffering, and by promoting public health. I accept my obligations to practice my profession conscientiously and with sensitivity, adhering to the profession’s Code of Ethics, and furthering my knowledge and competence through a commitment to lifelong learning.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Bergen Community College||400 Paramus Rd, Paramus, New Jersey, 07652-1595||No||Yes|
|Camden County College||200 College Drive, Blackwood, New Jersey, 8012||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Programs in New Jersey
In the state of New Jersey, there are two campus-based programs accredited through the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the primary accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country. For more information on accreditation, please reference the section below.
Bergen Community College in Paramus provides a CVTEA-accredited associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology, instructing its students in the fundamentals through classroom work, hands-on clinical experiences, and externship training. Students must complete prerequisites to enter the program, as well as general education courses, and two clinical externships.
Courses in this two-year program include vertebrate anatomy and physiology; veterinary pharmacology; veterinary medical terminology; veterinary nursing; clinical laboratory procedures; diagnostic imaging; surgical assist and anesthesia; and more. As far as test scores go, 76 percent of Bergen’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first try between 2017 and 2020.
Camden County College of Blackwood also offers a CVTEA-accredited associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. As a fairly competitive program, students must complete prerequisites with a “C” grade or higher, and complete an application before they can begin taking vet tech coursework.
This program involves a rigorous combination of 300 hours of practical clinical education and courses such as small animal nursing; principles of animal husbandry; hematology; veterinary pharmacology; farm animal nursing; small animal co-op; and parasitology. Camden County College seeks to prepare students for work in teaching hospitals, small animal clinics, veterinary offices, and exotic practices. Sixty-two percent of Camden’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2016 and 2019.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs for New Jersey Residents
In addition to the accredited on-campus programs in NJ, there are currently several CVTEA-accredited, online vet tech programs across the US.
One distance-based option is available through Penn Foster’s associate degree program, giving advanced instruction in the administration of anesthesia, the collection and recording of case histories, animal anatomy and physiology, emergency first aid, and preparing animals for treatments & surgery. With a dedicated faculty and externships through Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals, Penn Foster’s program is also one of the most affordable with payment plans as low as $59 per month and additional savings for paying in full or enrolling in autopay. Between 2017 and 2020, 71 percent of its graduates passed the VTNE on the first attempt.
St. Petersburg College in Florida provides two online programs in veterinary technology including an associate of science (AS) and a bachelor of science (BS). The 73-credit AS program offers classes such as medical terminology; animal nursing; animal anatomy; exotic pet medicine; and pharmacology.
The 120-credit online BS program—offered to applicants who already have associate degrees—provides three specializations: advanced clinical applications, veterinary hospital management, and combined clinical and hospital management. Both programs require students to work or volunteer for 20 hours weekly in a veterinary facility located close to their homes. Distance-based programs begin in August, January, and May each year.
Additionally, St. Petersburg offers a certificate in veterinary practice management. Boasting an $11 million state-of-the-art veterinary technology facility, an 82 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2017 and 2020, and several scholarships for students, St. Petersburg College can provide a solid foundation in vet tech skills at the convenience of students.
For more information on distance-based programs, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.
How to Become a Vet Tech in New Jersey
So how does a resident of NJ become a vet tech? And what types of responsibilities do they have? In order to join this high-growth occupation, a citizen of NJ typically takes a number of steps, outlined below.
- Step 1: Graduate from a two-to-four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—which is the main accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country.
- Step 2: Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
- Step 3: Apply for professional certification through the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians & Assistants, Inc. (NJVTA).
While professional certification is not required to practice as a veterinary technician in New Jersey, it is required in many other states. And since professional certification typically requires graduating from an AVMA-accredited program and passing the VTNE, both steps merit serious consideration, especially for those who may wish to practice in other states. Also, many employers require candidates to have earned at least a two-year degree, so skipping that step may impact employability.
According to the extensive skills checklist of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs are tasked with many responsibilities such as collecting laboratory samples; performing medical tests under the supervision of licensed veterinarian; helping to diagnose illnesses and conditions; providing first aid and monitoring the stability of animals in medical recovery; restraining animals during examinations; assisting with diagnostic imaging, anesthesia, surgery, and dentistry procedures; and administering treatments.
Veterinary technicians generally have two-year degrees, whereas veterinary technologists have four-year degrees and more in-depth training. Finally, some vet techs choose to specialize in fields such as zoology, nutrition, equine medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, animal behavior, emergency care, clinical pathology, and more.
Read on to discover the job outlook for vet techs in NJ, as well as the range of accredited programs and detailed information about professional certification.
Current Job Outlook for Vet Techs in New Jersey
For New Jersey residents and beyond, there’s excellent news for aspiring veterinary technicians. As mentioned above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) anticipates that openings in this profession will swell 16 percent between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the growth rate expected of all occupations during that time period (5 percent). That equates to a projected addition of 18,300 vet tech jobs nationally.
Also, the average annual salary for vet techs in NJ ($40,320) is higher than the national average at $37,860 (BLS 2020). When zooming in on salaries by percentile, how does New Jersey compare the rest of the nation? The BLS (May 2020) found the following salaries among vet techs nationwide:
|United States||New Jersey|
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||2,930|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$40,320|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$39,230|
It’s important to note that while vet techs in New Jersey are better compensated than in other states, the cost of living is also higher than the national average. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) found that NJ ranked thirty-ninth among all American states with respect to affordability, marked by especially steep housing costs relative to the rest of the nation.
Veterinary technicians can seek employment in a variety of environments including animal hospitals, clinics, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, animal products manufacturers, race tracks, zoos, aquariums, farms, livestock yards, animal sanctuaries, universities, and more.
The jobs listings on iHireVeterinary indicate that a range of opportunities is available for vet techs in New Jersey at companies such as Shore Veterinarians, Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, Somerset Veterinary Group, South Brunswick Animal Hospital, Vetmetis Veterinary Services, Verona Animal Hospital, Linwood Pet Hospital, Vetcor, Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, Purrfurred Vet Care, and more.
|VETERINARY CAREER||NEW JERSEY JOBS||SALARY DATA (BLS 2020)|
|LOW SALARY (10TH %ILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)|
Certification and Program Accreditation for Vet Techs in New Jersey
As mentioned in the introduction, professional certification, licensure, or registration is not currently mandatory for veterinary technicians in New Jersey. That said, it can be advisable to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)—for several reasons. First, it’s a prerequisite to licensure for nearly all American states and mandatory for practice in neighboring areas such as New York. Second, it can enhance an aspiring vet tech’s job candidacy and salary prospects.
The New Jersey Veterinary Technicians & Assistants, Inc. (NJVTA) offers professional certification to applicants who have completed an application; submitted proof of having completed a two- to four-year, CVTEA-accredited veterinary technology program; passed the VTNE; and paid a credentialing fee. Credentials must be renewed every two years in January following the completion of 20 hours of continuing education (CE), including approved conferences, courses, events, and other relevant activities.
In order to qualify for licensure, certification, or registration as a veterinary technician in most states, students must have graduated from a two- to four-year program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—the program approval body established by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—which is the main accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country.
The CVTEA takes several aspects into consideration in its program accreditation process such as comprehensiveness of curricula, student outcomes, quality of facilities, availability of student support services, program finances, and admissions processes.
Finally, Purdue University provides an extensive list of AVMA-mandated vet tech skills which must be included as part of the curricula in any approved program.