In the Sooner State, there’s a growing tide of animal welfare activism incited in part by the Humane Society of the United States and the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals. Take for example the story from 2016 when the two organizations offered a reward of $7,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the party responsible for leaving 24 cats in pet carriers in Oklahoma City to starve and die. Or the 2018 story of the discovery of an unregulated market for giraffe parts in the United States. While there is much work to be done to prevent these glaring instances of animal cruelty, a number of organizations have risen to the challenge in Oklahoma (OK) to protect its most vulnerable creatures. Among them is the esteemed Central Oklahoma Humane Society which has been in operation since 2007. This group seeks to end the euthanasia of healthy pets, cultivate kindness in people toward animals, and promote strong animal protection laws at local and state levels. It has a wealth of programs designed with animals’ interests in mind such as the “Happy Tails” blog series—a collection of success stories about adopted pets—as well as neutering services, pet relocations, and educational events.
For animal-lovers in Oklahoma, one way to become involved with the movement is to become a veterinary technician. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs take on varied tasks in animal healthcare settings such as collecting and processing laboratory samples; restraining animals during routine examinations; assisting veterinarians with procedures (e.g., dental, diagnostic, radiological, surgical); keeping facilities sterilized; maintaining patient records and inventories; and giving pet-owners best practices in taking care of their animals. In sum, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) states that a vet tech is trained to be the “veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse, and client educator.” It’s important to note that the responsibilities in this profession vary by state of practice. According to the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act (June 2016), vet techs must register with the board after graduating from an AVMA-accredited program. Oklahoma vet techs enjoy a relatively generous scope of practice, and may perform some procedures independently on order from a licensed veterinarian: euthanasia, thoracocentesis, abdominocentesis, vaccinations, dental scaling, and more. In emergency situations, a registered vet tech (RVT) in OK may fulfill additional functions—even when communication cannot be established with a licensed veterinarian—such as initiating resuscitation or opening airways with intubation.
Read on the learn about the promising career outlook for vet techs in OK, the salary prospects, accredited educational programs, and how to become an RVT.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City||900 N Portland, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73107-6195||No||Yes|
|Tulsa Community College-West Campus||7505 W 41st Street South, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74107||No||Yes|
Vet Tech Programs in Oklahoma with AVMA Accreditation
According to the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, aspiring veterinary technicians in this state must graduate from a two- to four-year college program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the main program approval entity of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
To gain entry into an accredited program in OK, admissions committees typically call for official secondary school transcripts with proof of having completed specific courses (e.g., algebra, biology, chemistry), proof of vaccinations and/or health insurance, a personal statement, and an application fee. Some more competitive programs may call for letters of recommendation, experience working in an veterinary healthcare setting, or test scores (e.g., entrance exams, TOEFL for non-native speakers of English).
As of August 2018, there were three AVMA-accredited programs. Here is a breakdown of each:
Murray State College (MSC) located in Tishomingo, offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. Students take approximately 13 to 15 credits per semester if they elect to take general education courses prior to the core veterinary technology curriculum. If students elect to take GE courses concurrent with vet tech courses, they must take 16-19 credits per semester to complete the program in 2 years. There is also a 1-year veterinary assistant certificate program available. Courses include veterinary medical terminology; anesthesia and surgical nursing; wild, zoo, and laboratory animals; physiology of domestic animals; pharmacology for veterinary technicians; diseases of domestic animals; veterinary imaging; and veterinary hospital managing. One way to measure the effectiveness of a program is by its first-time passing rate on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the predominant credentialing exam in this field. At MSC, 77.81 percent of program graduates passed the exam between 2015 and 2018. Even more impressive is the fact that 100 percent of these students passed the Oklahoma State Board exam in that same time frame, a requirement for registration in the state covered below in the “Vet Tech Registration” section.
Tulsa Community College-West Campus (TCC) also offers an AVMA-accredited AAS degree in veterinary technology with coursework in anatomy & physiology; clinical calculations for vet techs; principles of small animal care; clinical pathology; veterinary office and computer skills; microbiology and sanitation; and large animal technology. Students complete labs throughout the program and a practicum during the summer between their first and second year in the two-year full-time plan. There is also a 3-year part-time plan with the practicum placed in a summer between semesters. Graduates of Tulsa Community College had an impressive 88 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2014 and 2017.
Finally, Oklahoma State University—OKC also offers an AAS in veterinary technology with didactic classes such as radiology; breeds, restraint and first aid; animal pathology; pharmacology; animal reproduction, nutrition & production; VT radiology; and wild, zoo & lab animal care. Students also complete a preceptorship of a minimum of 320 clock-hours of training under supervision. The program consists of 69 credit hours and takes about 3 years to complete. Oklahoma State also boasts a vibrant Veterinary Technician Student Association (VTSA)—the third largest student group on campus—which was founded in 1997 and holds fundraising events to promote animal welfare. Notably, 80 percent of OSU program graduates passed the VTNE between 2014 and 2017 and again, 100% passed the Oklahoma State Board Exam for the same 3-year period.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs
For aspiring OK vet techs who live in more rural regions of the state or have professional or personal time commitments preventing them from attending an on-campus program, there are some online veterinary technology schools available. These programs involve a combination of online coursework and clinical trainings which are completed in approved veterinary facilities close to a student’s home.
As of August 2018, there were eight CVTEA-accredited online programs offered by schools across the country. One standout option is available through Purdue University which offers a distance-based associate program in veterinary technology. This competitive program now includes 27 didactic courses in subjects such as anatomy; physiology; small animal nursing & health management; imaging for veterinary technicians; introduction to ophthalmology, dermatology & oncology; principles of anesthesia for veterinary technicians; and clinical pathology. In addition to web-based coursework, students complete 18 clinical mentorships at approved facilities to put their knowledge to the test in an empirical setting. Impressively, 88.5 percent of Purdue’s distance-based students passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2013 and 2016, while 100% of on-campus students passed on their first attempt.
Penn Foster College also provides an online associate program in veterinary technology with classes such as information literacy; medical mathematics; veterinary office management & skill with people; pharmacology for veterinary technicians; clinical pathology; anesthesia for veterinary technicians; and clinical parasitology. Not only is Penn Foster one of the more affordable programs at $79 per credit, but also this school has partnered with Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals—many of which are in Oklahoma—to deliver consistent clinical training for its students across the country. Finally, 63.3 percent of Penn Foster’s graduates between 2014 and 2017 passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
To discover other web-based vet tech programs, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.
Occupational Outlook for Oklahoma Vet Techs
The outlook for vet techs in OK is uniquely bright. In fact, CareerOneStop (2018)—a data organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—reported that this career is the seventh fastest growing occupation in the state among people with associate’s degrees. By illustration, they project a 20 percent increase in openings in OK between 2014 and 2024. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017) also anticipates a 20 percent jump in openings for vet techs across the country between 2016 and 2026, much more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (7 percent).
Vet Tech Salary in Oklahoma
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017) found that there were 103,430 vet techs across the country earning an average annual salary of $34,710 or $16.69/hour. In more detailed terms, vet techs across the country make:
- 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:
- 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.
There were differing accounts of salary prospects in this field based on source of data. As proof of point, Payscale (July 2018)—a reputable collector of self-reported salaries online—found the following annual salary percentiles among its 463 responding vet techs around the US:
- 10th percentile: $20,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,887
- 75th percentile: $39,000
- 90th percentile: $47,000
And for the 5,097 vet techs who responded with hourly figures, these were the percentile ranges:
- 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.
Although the BLS (May 2017) found lower salary figures for vet techs in Oklahoma, it’s important to note that residents of the Sooner State have much better buying power with their dollars than those living in other states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) ranked OK as the second most affordable state in the US, boasting particular savings in housing, groceries, transportation, and health relative to the rest of the nation. Please keep this fact in mind which evaluating the following salary prospects.
The BLS (May 2017) found a mean annual salary among the 820 vet techs in the state at $27,370. In more granular terms, here were the salary percentiles for vet techs working in OK:
- 10th percentile: $17,330
- 25th percentile: $20,130
- 50th percentile (median): $24,650
- 75th percentile: $34,040
- 90th percentile: $40,190
In hourly terms, these figures equate to:
820 vet techs in OK ($13.16/hr. average)
- 10th percentile: $8.33/hr.
- 25th percentile: $9.68/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $11.85/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16.36/hr.
- 90th percentile: $19.32/hr.
These salary estimates for OK vet techs also varied by region of the state. Notably, the southeast nonmetropolitan region of OK had the highest wage estimates among the six BLS-designated regions in the state (BLS May 2017):
Fort Smith, AR-OK: (40 vet techs employed): $27,240 avg.
- 10th percentile: $17,510
- 25th percentile: $19,940
- 50th percentile (median): $23,740
- 75th percentile: $33,890
- 90th percentile: $43,280
Lawton, OK: (40 vet techs employed): $24,120 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $17,110
- 25th percentile: $19,310
- 50th percentile (median): $25,780
- 75th percentile: $28,530
- 90th percentile: $30,190
Oklahoma City, OK: (460 vet techs employed): $29,420 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $20,110
- 25th percentile: $21,950
- 50th percentile (median): $26,270
- 75th percentile: $36,950
- 90th percentile: $41,520
Tulsa, OK: (170 employed): $22,470 avg.
- 10th percentile: $16,070
- 25th percentile: $17,360
- 50th percentile (median): $20,090
- 75th percentile: $27,2400
- 90th percentile: $30,690
Southeast Oklahoma Nonmetropolitan Area: (40 vet techs employed): $33,310 avg.
- 10th percentile: $26,050
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $29,740
- 75th percentile: $33,720
- 90th percentile: $55,480
Where Do Oklahoma Vet Techs Work?
As stated above, the career outlook is very bright for vet techs in OK. They’re employed in a wide range of environments including animal hospitals, clinics, zoos, aquariums, public policy organizations, humane societies, kennels, universities, biomedical research facilities, farms, rescue centers, and more. The Oklahoma Veterinary Technician Association (OVTA) maintains an active job posting list with opportunities at places such as the Pet Medical Center, Perkins Veterinary Clinic, Rose Rock Veterinary Hospital & Pet Resort, Animal Eye Clinic, Oklahoma State University—OKC, McKinney Animal Hospital, Greystone Pet Hospital, Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists, and Edmond East Animal Hospital. iHireVeterinary has also posted positions with employers including VCA Animal Hospitals, Oklahoma City Zoological Park & Botanical Garden, Banfield Pet Hospital. Finally, Indeed has had postings at varied locations as well such as BluePearl Veterinary Partners, Heritage College, the Cat Hospital of Norman, VCA Antech, Inc., Ardmore Animal Hospital, and Bartlesville Animal Hospital & Boarding Kennel. In sum, there are ample opportunities in this field across the state.
Some vet techs in OK choose to specialize their skills and become veterinary technician specialists (VTS). Some of the designated subfields of the discipline include zoological medicine, analgesia & anesthesia, clinical pathology, surgery, equine medicine, avian nursing, animal behavior & psychology, and more. To apply for professional credentialing in these areas, candidates typically need to garner thousands of hours in the specialty, get letters of recommendation, and pass a comprehensive exam.
To learn in depth about how to become a VTS, please check out the veterinary technician careers page.
|Veterinary Career||Oklahoma Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Vet Tech Registration in Oklahoma
As mentioned in the introduction, veterinary technicians must be registered with the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (OBVME) in order to qualify to work in the state. The application packet to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) includes:
- Notarized application
- Photograph of applicant
- Signed “Applicant Affirmation”
- Proof of having graduated from an AVMA-accredited vet tech program
- Two letters of recommendation from RVTs or licensed veterinarians
- Passing score (70 percent or above) on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Passing score (70 percent or above) on the OK State Veterinary Technician Exam (SVTE)
- Application fee ($130)
This credential is valid for one year and must be renewed annually by June 30th with a fee ($45) and proof of having completed at least ten hours of continuing education (CE). Late fees apply. Please note that registrations which aren’t renewed by August 30th will automatically be suspended.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
Aspiring veterinary technicians in Oklahoma are encouraged to seek out accredited programs to qualify for registration with the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (OBVME). As mentioned above, the predominant accreditation body for vet tech programs nationally is the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The CVTEA weighs several factors in its program-approval process, including the school’s institutional accreditation, how finances are managed, the availability of resources, the quality of faculty & curricula, admissions processes, and student outcomes.
For an in-depth examination of how each of these is evaluated, please check out 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||Candidates must take the State Veterinary Technician Exam and submit two letters of recommendation from RVTs or licensed veterinarians.||Oklahoma Veterinary Technician Association|