North Carolina is a state renowned for its educational programs. In fact, NC boasts the famous “Research Triangle” of cities—Raleigh (NC State University), Chapel Hill (University of NC), and Durham (Duke University)—as well as two of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation (Raleigh and Charlotte). Among this bustling progress and development in the Old North State, there are a number of renowned, accredited veterinary technician programs for animal-lovers offering rigorous curricula and abundant clinical opportunities. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are currently four accredited vet tech programs in NC, recognized for their challenging coursework, distinguished faculty, and positive student outcomes.
Not only are there several AVMA-accredited vet tech schools in NC, but there’s a healthy job outlook as well. There are currently 3,070 of these healthcare professionals employed in the state, although this figure is expected to rise significantly in coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) reports that openings for veterinary technicians are poised to increase 19% nationally between 2014 and 2024, better than double the growth rate expected for all occupations (7%).
With ample educational programs and a growing job market, the opportunities are ripe for prospective vet techs in North Carolina. Read on to discover how to become a vet tech in NC, as well as the state-specific employment prospects and licensure process.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in North Carolina
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Alamance Community College||1247 Jimmie Kerr Road, Graham, North Carolina, 27253-8000||No||No|
|Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College||340 Victoria Rd, Asheville, North Carolina, 28801-4897||No||Yes|
|Central Carolina Community College||1105 Kelly Dr, Sanford, North Carolina, 27330-9840||No||Yes|
|Gaston College||201 Hwy 321 S, Dallas, North Carolina, 28034||No||Yes|
How to Become a Vet Tech in North Carolina
Here is one common path to becoming a veterinary technician in North Carolina:
- Graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is the primary accrediting body for veterinary technician programs in the U.S. Their process ensures quality control of teaching and practice throughout the country, weighing criteria such as facilities, student resources, and admissions standards.
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). The VTNE is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and gauges aspiring vet tech’s knowledge of concepts such as diagnostic imaging, anesthesia, and laboratory procedures. Passing this exam is a prerequisite for practice in nearly every state in the country.
- Apply for licensure through the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) and pass the North Carolina Veterinary Technician State Exam. After fulfilling all the licensure prerequisites, vet techs can apply for registration with the NCVMB and are offered licensure following successful completion of the state vet tech exam. This test is offered six times annually, comprising 100 questions based on the “Practice Act,” the general rules governing veterinary medicine in the state. Aspiring vet techs must score at least 70 to pass and are given one hour to complete the exam.
- Renew licensure every two years with 12 hours of continued education credits. In the state of North Carolina, only registered vet techs (RVTs) are allowed to practice, and therefore licensure and ongoing renewals are essential in this profession.
Promising Outlook for Vet Tech Jobs in North Carolina
After becoming a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in North Carolina, there are a number of job opportunities available.
As mentioned above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) expects this occupation to grow 19% between 2014 and 2024. If this growth rate is applied to the number of vet techs currently employed in NC (3,070), this will result in 583 new positions.
Here are the top-employing regions in North Carolina for veterinary technicians (BLS 2013):
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC: 690 vet techs employed
- Raleigh-Cary, NC: 570
- Greensboro-High Point, NC: 220
- Wilmington, NC: 220
- Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area: 220
It’s no surprise that Charlotte and Raleigh—two of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation—have the most vet techs employed, and also hold the distinction of being two of the top five highest paying regions as well.
Here are the top-paying regions for vet techs in NC (annual average salary):
- Other North Carolina nonmetropolitan areas: $34,440
- Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area: $34,020
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC: $32,030
- Raleigh-Cary, NC: $31,550
- Durham-Chapel Hill, NC: $31,100
Vet techs in North Carolina work in a number of different settings, including clinics, laboratories, animal shelters, kennels, and zoos. Since animal illness and injury can be unpredictable, vet techs may be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays, depending on the needs of their furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned patients.
In addition to the job openings for vet techs in NC, there are two notable professional organizations. The North Carolina Association of Veterinary Technicians (NCAVT) hosts conferences in spring and fall, as well as maintains a job board and professional resources (e.g., continuing education classes, seminars). The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) provides not only licensure for vet techs, but also up-to-date information on regulatory statutes and facilities.
Here is a summary of statewide salary data on veterinary technicians and assistants in North Carolina, respectively:
|Veterinary Career||North Carolina Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2014)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Choosing Accredited Veterinary Technician Schools in NC
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are four accredited programs in North Carolina. Not only is graduating from an AVMA-accredited program essential for state licensure, but it’s also a prerequisite to sit for the national and state exams.
Here are the approved vet tech programs in NC:
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College offers a six-semester associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree in veterinary technology. This competitive Asheville school teaches students essential skills for the occupation, including the preparation of animals, equipment maintenance, anesthesia administration, dental procedures, and laboratory techniques. This school, established in 1959, boasts a library of over 47,000 volumes and a diverse student body and faculty.
Central Carolina Community College’s veterinary medical technology program, established in 1974, was the first of its kind in North Carolina. This program is located in Sanford—45 miles southwest of Raleigh— and boasts state-of-the-art equipment as well as “bright and enthusiastic” students. This curriculum features guest lectures from one of the “Research Triangle” campuses (NC State) and is designed to be completed within two years.
Gaston College offers a veterinary medical technology associate degree with three convenient campus locations in Dallas, Lincolnton, and Belmont—all three just west of Charlotte. Students get the opportunity to work with live animals during their third semester, clinical experiences which prepare them for common vet tech procedures and responsibilities. The sixth semester involves a supervised externship at a nearby veterinary clinic, further honing students’ skills such as preparing animals, record-keeping, and applying bandages or splints.
Miller-Motte College, a Raleigh-based school has an impressive post-graduation job placement rate of 90%. Through coursework in areas such as animal husbandry, veterinary parasitology, and diagnostic imaging, this program prepares students to excel on the state and national vet tech exams.
Accreditation and License Requirements in the State of North Carolina
Prior to enrolling in a program, prospective vet techs in North Carolina are encouraged to ensure that their program has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (AVMA CVTEA). This organization uses the following criteria to ensure quality control among vet tech programs across the country:
- School Accreditation Through Other Agencies
- Institutional Finances
- Organization and Communications
- Facilities and Equipment
- Clinical Instruction Resources
- Library and Informational Materials
- Faculty and Staff
- Student Outcomes
As mentioned above, graduating from an AVMA-accredited program is a prerequisite for taking both the national and state veterinary technician exams in North Carolina.
Prior to practice, vet techs in NC must be licensed as registered veterinary technicians (RVTs). The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) lists the application materials to register for the state exam:
- Notarized application
- Passport photo taken within the past six months
- Copy of social security card
- Official transcripts
- VTNE Scores
- Application fee ($50)
Upon successful completion of the state exam offered six times per year, the student is awarded the North Carolina veterinary technician licensure. Please note that NC vet techs must renew their licenses every two years following the completion of 12 hours of continued education (CU), only three of which can come from online coursework.
The licensing requirements are summarized below:
|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||North Carolina requires that its applicants take a NC Veterinary Technician State Examination.||North Carolina Association of Veterinary Technicians|