In the Land of Enchantment, the black bear reigns as the official state animal. Not many people know that New Mexico was home to the original Smokey the Bear, the famed “spokes-animal” of the US Forest Service and a longtime symbol of fire prevention. Smokey was found as a cub in a tree, frightened after 17,000 acres of the Lincoln National Forest had burned. Not only does NM boast a rich history of creatures great and small, but it also is home to some to some top-notch animal welfare organizations as well.
For example, the Lap Dog Rescue of New Mexico has a vast network of foster homes for dogs displaced by the shelter system, owner abuse, and other sad realities. In 2017, this group rescued over 700 dogs and helped to re-home 620. Additionally, the Animal Humane of New Mexico works with both cats and dogs, providing low-cost veterinary care, pet training services, adoption connections, volunteering, and even a program for children ages 5-13 called Camp Humane, an opportunity for kids to learn about the proper treatment of animals.
One way for animal-lovers in NM to apply their interest to a career is to become a veterinary technician or technologist. The New Mexico Registered Veterinary Technician Association (NMRVTA) has been in operation for over 40 years and provides various services such as continuing education (CE) events, professional networking, job postings, and more.
So what do vet techs in New Mexico do? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), these animal healthcare workers offer assistance to licensed vets with various procedures (e.g., vaccines, surgeries, dentistry, radiology, critical care, diagnostic tests, routine examinations); maintain the cleanliness of facilities; keep orderly patient records and supply inventories; monitor the health of animals; and educate pet-owners on appropriate care and nutrition for various species. In sum, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) states that a veterinary technician is the “veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse, and client educator.” In NM, vet techs must register with the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine (NMBVM) prior to seeking employment.
Since local laws governing the scope of practice in this profession vary, the AVMA (Nov. 2017) has provided a handy chart of regional duties and responsibilities in this field organized by state. In New Mexico, veterinary technicians may perform several services under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian such as preventative dentistry (e.g., removal of soft deposits, plaque, stains, etc.), as well as several procedures in emergency conditions (e.g., applying tourniquets, giving pharmaceuticals, resuscitating animals, applying splints), even in the absence of direct supervision. To learn in depth about the laws surrounding the practice of veterinary technology, check out the full NM Veterinary Practice Act.
This guide serves as a resource for people interested in becoming veterinary technicians or technologists in New Mexico; read on to learn about the career outlook, salary prospects, accredited vet tech programs, and how to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in the state.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in New Mexico
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Central New Mexico Community College||525 Buena Vista SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87106||No||Yes|
|Navajo Technical University||Lower Point Road, State Road 371, Crownpoint, New Mexico, 87313-0849||No||Yes|
|San Juan College||4601 College Blvd, Farmington, New Mexico, 87402-4699||Yes||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Programs in New Mexico
For aspiring veterinary technicians in NM, there are three accredited programs available, one of which is an online program. The predominant accreditation institution in this field the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
To secure entry into one of the NM vet tech programs, applicants typically need to submit the following:
- Completed application
- Official transcripts with proof of specific coursework (e.g., English, algebra, biology, chemistry, etc.)
- Personal statement (500-600 words)
- Proof of health insurance
- Application fee
Although most programs do not require SAT scores, letters of recommendation, or candidate interviews, there are exceptions. Also, for candidates whose first language isn’t English, some programs call for TOEFL scores as well.
As of August 2018, there were three CVTEA-accredited programs in New Mexico, two on-campus, and one distance learning program. Here are some details about each of these programs.
Central New Mexico Community College of Albuquerque offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology, which comprises hands-on lab sessions in addition to courses such as veterinary office & hospital procedures; animal comparative anatomy & physiology; surgical technology for vet techs; radiology; dentistry; pharmacology; noninfectious & infectious diseases; clinical pathology; applied therapeutics & care for veterinary technicians; and anesthesiology. The program takes 5 terms to complete. One way to measure a program’s effectiveness is by its first-time passing rate on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the main credentialing exam in this field. Falling above the average, 75.69 percent of CNMCC’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2014 and 2017. This program costs $660 per full-time term of 12-18 credits ($55 per credit hour) for NM residents.
The second on-campus program is offered and Navajo Technical University. This associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology comprises 68 credit hours, 50 of those in core vet tech courses. In addition to courses which include labs, students complete a clinical practicum. Courses include avian, exotic, lab animal husbandry and handling; veterinary medicine and surgery; veterinary critical care; veterinary nursing; veterinary dentistry; veterinary surgical nursing; and a VTNE preparation course. Program goals include a focus on safety, ethics, proper administration of drugs to patients, an understanding of office and hospital procedures, and understanding of radiography, and proper handling of animals. No VTNE pass score statistics are available at this time.
For residents of more rural areas of NM or for those who have unbreakable time commitments, attending an on-campus vet tech program can be difficult. Luckily there are various accredited, distance-based vet tech programs available, including one based in NM. San Juan College of Farmington provides an online associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. Each vet tech course is 12 weeks in length, while general education courses run for 16 weeks. The program begins in January, May or August, and for flexibility all classes are offered in each term. It features coursework in vet nursing care; business procedures; small animal diseases; diagnostic imaging; medical terminology; and emergency & critical care medicine, among others. All vet tech students are responsible for securing a Companion Animal Off-Campus Clinical Instruction (OCCI) site through which they complete their clinical experience. Sanu Juan College has detailed requirements for a site to be approved as an OCCI site. Between 2015 and 2018, an impressive 88.1 percent of all program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. SJC’s veterinary technology program costs $46 per credit hour in addition to fees based on residency and students activities.
Additional Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs
San Juan College isn’t the only school at which New Mexico residents can enroll in a distance-based vet tech program; in fact, there are several other CVTEA-accredited online programs around the country.
Cedar Valley College based in Lancaster, TX provides a distance-based AAS degree in veterinary technology, featuring coursework in veterinary office procedures; anesthesia & surgical assistance; veterinary pharmacology; anatomy & physiology; canine & feline clinical management; equine clinical management; and veterinary parasitology. Courses are offere in the fall, spring and summer. Between 2014 and 2017, 72 percent of CVC’s online program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. The total tuition for this program is $14,070 for out-of-state students (including NM-based students).
St. Petersburg College of Florida offers an online associate of science (AS) program with convenient August, January, and May start dates. Coursework includes units in animal nursing; animal breeds & behavior; large animal clinical & nursing skills; avian & exotic pet medicine; large animal diseases; laboratory animal medicine; and more. In addition St. Petersburg offers a bachelor of science (BS) degree. All students must volunteer for 20 hours per week in a local veterinary clinic and complete clinical practice to graduate. Between 2014 and 2017, 76.2% of graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
To discover the gamut of accredited online programs in veterinary technology, check out the online vet tech programs page.
Demand for Vet Techs in New Mexico
Fortunately for aspiring vet techs in NM, the employment climate looks bright on into the future. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017) predicts that there will be a 20 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2016 and 2026, much more robust than the average growth projected across all occupations over that time period (7 percent). That said, there is some evidence that opportunities in NM might be increasing at a slightly slower rate. CareerOneStop (2018)—a data-crunching affiliate of the US Department of Labor—reported that among for people of NM with two-year associate degrees, veterinary technology is expected to be the twelfth fastest growing career in the state, anticipating an 11 percent increase in jobs between 2014 and 2024.
It’s no surprise that the career outlook is promising in this field since there is an array of places where these animal healthcare professionals are employed. Not only do NM vet techs work in clinics and animal hospitals, but they also work at zoos, humane societies, farms, research facilities, kennels, rescue organizations, veterinary dentistry clinics, surgical hospitals, neurology & imaging centers, and more. By illustration, popular job post websites offered a broad array of employment opportunities for vet techs in NM. iHireVeterinary has advertised openings at Banfield Pet Hospital, VCA Animal Hospital, Lovelace Respiratory Research, and through the City of Farmington. Indeed has posted positions at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center of NM, Veterinary Dentistry & Oral Surgery of NM, Route 66 Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Center, Animal Neurology & Imaging Center, Petroglyph Animal Hospital, ABQ Pet Care, and Taos Veterinary Clinic. Finally, the New Mexico Registered Veterinary Technician Association (NMRVTA) also maintains an active job board and had opportunities at the Arroyo Veterinary Clinic, Calista Animal Hospital, and the Animal Humane New Mexico Veterinary Clinic. In short, there’s a wealth of openings for vet techs in NM.
For vet techs who want to push their skills to the limit, there is an array of specialties available. By becoming a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), a person may be able to enhance his or her employment prospects, salary, and career growth. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has designated several specialized academies and societies; an academy typically provides credentialing to VTSs who qualify, whereas a society operates more as a professional networking organization. Some of the specializations include:
- Animal behavior & psychology
- Zoological medicine
- Emergency & critical care
- Analgesia & anesthesia
- Clinical pathology
- Equine medicine
- Avian nursing
To qualify for credentialing through an academy, VTS candidates generally need to submit a copy of their NM vet tech registration, proof of 1,000+ hours of experience in their area of expertise, letters of recommendation, a detailed portfolio, and a passing score on an exam. To discover how to join one of the vet tech specializations, check out the veterinary technician careers page.
New Mexico Vet Tech Salary Data
Veterinary technicians in New Mexico make slightly lower salaries than the national average, but NM is also relatively cheaper than a majority of US states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) reported that the Land of Enchantment ranks seventeenth in affordability, boasting particular savings in utilities and housing compared to other US states. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the following figures.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017), there were 103,430 vet techs working nationwide with an average annual salary of $34,710 or $16.69/hour. In more detailed terms, the BLS found the following wage percentiles for vet techs working around the state:
United States (103,430 vet techs employed): $34,710 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
Translated into hourly figures, these numbers equated to:
US: $16.69/hr. average
- 10th percentile: $11.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $13.19/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $16.06/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.17/hr.
- 90th percentile: $23.73/hr.
Interestingly, these national figures varied slightly by source of data. In fact, Payscale (Aug. 2018)—an aggregator of self-reported salaries among common professions—found the following annual wage percentiles among its 463 responding vet techs:
- 10th percentile: $20,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,887
- 75th percentile: $39,000
- 90th percentile: $47,000
A majority of Payscale’s respondents in this profession chose to report their salaries in hourly terms. For these 5,097 vet techs, Payscale found the following percentiles nationwide:
- 10th percentile: $10.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.00/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.16/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16.00/hr.
- 90th percentile: $19.00/hr.
Due to the sampling methods and larger pool of data, the BLS (May 2017) figures are generally considered more reliable. According to the BLS, the 670 working vet techs in NM had an annual average salary of $32,370—roughly on par with the national average—and the following percentiles:
New Mexico: (670 vet techs employed): $32,370 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $18,990
- 25th percentile: $24,950
- 50th percentile (median): $31,150
- 75th percentile: $40,740
- 90th percentile: $47,070
Translated into hourly figures, these regional salaries equated to:
NM: $15.60/hr. average
- 10th percentile: $9.13/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.00/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.98/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.59/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.63/hr.
Not surprisingly, these figures tended to vary by area within the state of New Mexico as well. The Albuquerque, NM area boasted the highest salaries for its 380 working vet techs at $34,380, right in line with national average salaries. Other regions fell below national averages. Here are the numbers of vet techs employed, the mean salaries, and wage percentiles among the BLS-designated regions of NM (BLS May 2017):
Albuquerque, NM (380 vet techs employed): $34,380 annual average salary ($16.53/hr.)
- 10th percentile: $19,970
- 25th percentile: $26,790
- 50th percentile (median): $34,470
- 75th percentile: $43,020
- 90th percentile: $48,210
Eastern New Mexico Nonmetropolitan Area (unknown number employed): $30,330 avg. ($14.58/hr.)
- 10th percentile: $18,130
- 25th percentile: $21,460
- 50th percentile (median): $29,310
- 75th percentile: $38,750
- 90th percentile: $45,590
Las Cruces, NM (60 employed): $29,700 avg. ($14.28/hr.)
- 10th percentile: $18,430
- 25th percentile: $22,060
- 50th percentile (median): $28,330
- 75th percentile: $37,830
- 90th percentile: $43,070
North and West Central New Mexico Nonmetropolitan Area (50 employed): $26,860 avg. ($12.91/hr.)
- 10th percentile: $17,480
- 25th percentile: $21,420
- 50th percentile (median): $27,460
- 75th percentile: $31,010
- 90th percentile: $36,540
|Veterinary Career||New Mexico Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Registration in New Mexico
As mentioned in the introduction, vet techs in NM are required to get registered with the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine. To qualify to become a registered vet tech (RVT) in NM, candidates must:
- Submit a notarized application with a passport-style photo, a copy of a diploma from an AVMA-accredited school
- Send official transcripts from their vet tech degree program
- Send passing scores (75 percent or above) on the Veterinary Technician National Examination
- Register for and pass the New Mexico Vet Tech State Exam ($85 if taken at the scheduled time and $100 if arranged with the Board)
These registrations last one year. To maintain active vet tech registration, candidates must complete eight hours of continuing education annually, four of which can be completed online.
New Mexico Vet Tech Program Accreditation
For aspiring veterinary technicians in New Mexico, it’s important to graduate from an accredited program in veterinary technology. As mentioned above, the main accreditation body for programs in this field is the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), which evaluates various factors in its program-approval process:
- School’s institutional accreditation status
- How finances are managed
- Availability of resources
- Quality of faculty & curricula
- Admissions processes
- Student outcomes
For a full examination of how programs are accredited, please visit the AVMA’s vet tech program accreditation standards page.
|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||RVT||Yes||Yes||New Mexico requires a state exam for RVTs to be given in January and May.||New Mexico Registered Veterinary Technician Association|