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 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.
Local laws governing the scope of practice in this profession vary. 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.
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.
|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 is 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 April 2021, 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 five 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, 73 percent of CNMCC’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2017 and 2020. This program costs $672 per full-time term of 12 to 18 credits ($56 per credit hour) for NM residents.
The second on-campus program is offered at Navajo Technical University. This associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology comprises 68 credits, 50 of those in core vet tech courses. In addition to courses that 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, an understanding of radiography, and proper handling of animals. Between 2017 and 2020, 40 percent of first-time candidates from Navajo passed the VTNE.
Online Vet Tech Programs in New Mexico
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. San Juan College has detailed requirements for a site to be approved as an OCCI site. Between 2017 and 2020, an impressive 89.8 percent of all program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. SJC’s veterinary technology program costs $52 per credit hour in addition to fees based on residency and student activities.
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.
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 2016 and 2019, 74 percent 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 2020) predicts that there will be a 16 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2019 and 2029, much more robust than the average growth projected across all occupations over that time period (4 percent).
This nationwide number appears to be in alignment with the predicted growth in New Mexico, specifically. Projections Central (2021)—a data-crunching affiliate of the US Department of Labor—reported that among people in NM with two-year associate degrees, veterinary technology is expected to be the fifth fastest-growing career in the state. Between 2018 and 2028, the occupation in the state is anticipated to grow by 20.3 percent.
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, Lovelace Respiratory Research, and the Department of Agriculture in several jurisdictions. Indeed has posted positions at Española Humane, VCA Animal Hospitals, Gruda Veterinary Hospital, Casa Querencia Animal Health Center, Malaherd Veterinary Hospital, and Bernalillo Pet Care Center. Finally, the New Mexico Registered Veterinary Technician Association (NMRVTA) also maintains an active job board with opportunities at Ridgeview Veterinary Hospital, Los Lunas Animal Clinic, and Northwest Animal Clinic and Hospital.
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
From a national perspective, the 109,490 vet techs across the United States earn an average annual salary of $37,860 (BLS May 2020). At $35,750 per year, vet techs in New Mexico earn slightly less than this average.
The following is how the salaries of 680 veterinary technicians working in the state of New Mexico in 2020 compared to national averages across different earning levels:
|United States||New Mexico|
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||680|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$35,750|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$35,320|
When looking at potential earning power, it can be important to note the cost of living in any given area. Often, salaries reflect how expensive or affordable it is to live in that region. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021), New Mexico is the seventh most affordable state in the U.S., with notable savings in housing, transportation, and utilities. The reality that New Mexico vet techs earn at a level lower than the national average may be because the state is generally an affordable one in which to live.
|Veterinary Career||New Mexico Jobs||Salary Data (BLS 2020)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Median Salary (50th %ile)||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.