For the aspiring vet tech looking to work in the Beaver State, the animal populations—and opportunities to nurse animals—are abundant. According to Oregon.gov, nearly 50 percent of the Beaver State is forestland, bringing forth the abundance of wildlife that comes with the abundance of the natural habitats animals call their homes. Because wildlife is quite common in the state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) even provides residents with tips on how to coexist with bats, beavers, birds, black bears, cougars, coyotes, tree squirrels, and rocky mountain goats endemic to the region.
Far from only being a haven for wildlife, Oregon is the home to the Oregon Humane Society (OHS)—the largest Humane Society in the Pacific Northwest. In 2019, OHS found homes for almost 12,000 pets, including 7,834 “second chance” animals that couldn’t find homes in 75 other welfare agencies across the country. The animal numbers don’t stop there. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) cattle and calves were the second agricultural commodities for Oregon in 2018, and in 2019, Oregon was the home to three million chickens, more than two million cows, and more than 400,000 other types of livestock.
Regardless of the animal population with whom a vet tech works, as the nurses of the animal medicine world, vet techs are essential to the smooth operations at veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, research laboratories, agricultural operations, wildlife conservatories, and more. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2020), vet techs in Oregon work under the supervision of a licensed vet to obtain and record information, prepare patients and implements for treatments and surgery, collect lab specimens and perform lab tests, perform surgery after-care, and assist veterinarians with diagnosis, surgery, and treatments.
Oregon vet techs who want to experience a sense of camaraderie with their fellow professionals can also join the Oregon Veterinary Technician & Assistant Association (OVTAA). Part of the Portland Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), the OVTAA is dedicated to fostering recognition for and protecting the vet tech profession in the state. Joining the OVTAA exposes Vet Techs to continuing education opportunities, provides discounts on products and services, gives access to a calendar of local events and lectures, and creates the possibility for connection to the entire veterinary community in the state of Oregon.
Going to a vet tech school in Oregon and pursuing a degree can help prepare you to channel a passion for animals into a fulfilling career. A typical program takes about two years to complete, upon graduating from high school. That means that a vet tech could start working and earning much sooner than a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, while still getting to make a measurable impact on the lives of animals and pet owners.
Following is a breakdown of the information you need to know to become a vet tech in Oregon, including accredited programs, vet tech employment and salary statistics, and available resources.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Central Oregon Community College||2600 N.W. College Way, Bend, Oregon, 97703||No||Yes|
|Portland Community College-Rock Creek Campus||17705 NW Springville Rd, Portland, Oregon, 97229||No||Yes|
AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Oregon
In order to become certified as a vet tech in Oregon, a person must be a graduate of a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the approval committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). For aspiring vet techs, there are over 200 accredited associate’s and bachelor’s programs across the country, including two on-campus programs in Oregon:
Portland Community College has full AVMA accreditation and offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology to graduates of their vet tech program. Courses in this program include facility ward care; large animal nursing and restraint; veterinary parasitology and pathology; pharmaceutical mathematics; animal health record systems; small animal diseases; radiation safety; anesthesiology; and more. Students complete three clinicals throughout the seven-term program.
There are course prerequisites and a 40-hour minimum of hours of observation with a veterinarian to apply to the limited entry program. The three-year, average, first-time pass rate for all students taking the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is needed to seek state licensure, was 98 percent (2017-2020).
Central Oregon Community College offers the other on-campus CVTEA-accredited vet tech program in Oregon. The 86-credit, full-time, two-year associate of applied science (AAS) degree is only offered to 24 students. Applicants are only accepted every two years.
Courses include small animal nursing; parasitology and pathology; animal hospital and office procedures; veterinary terminology; hematology and urinalysis; exotic and lab animal medicine; radiation safety; and more. Students also complete two clinical practicums in their 6th term. Graduates will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree and be prepared for the VTNE. Between 2017 and 2020, 100 percent of the graduates of the COCC vet tech program passed the VTNE on the first try.
For information on distance-based veterinary technician programs, visit our online vet tech programs page.
How to Become a Vet Tech in Oregon
Veterinary technicians in Oregon have a fairly prescribed course to follow in order to become first employable and then certified in the vet tech field. As mentioned above, prospective vet techs should expect to spend 2 years in an approved vet tech program before beginning work.
Step 1: Graduate High School (Four Years)– Veterinary technicians must be high school graduates, or earn a GED, before applying to vet tech programs. High school students should be sure to excel in hard science classes, such as biology and chemistry, as well as math and statistics, in order to be as prepared as possible for their continued education.
Step 2A: Earn Veterinary Technician Degree (Two to Four Years) – Following high school, vet techs in Oregon must earn a veterinary technician degree from a Board-approved veterinary program. Although listed here as step 2, the fact is that many applicants to veterinary technician programs already have experience in a veterinary office prior to enrolling.
Step 2B: Complete On-the-Job Training (One Year or More) – A degree from an approved vet tech school is not strictly required in Oregon. In order to become a certified veterinary technician (CVT), those without a degree must submit proof of at least 6000 hours of on-the-job experience in the vet tech role, as verified by an Oregon licensed veterinarian, and must complete a 20-hour radiation safety training course. Board approval is essential for this particular path.
Those who do not earn a degree from a Board-approved program may be required to verify on-the-job training hours in addition to whatever degree they earn. This training requirement ranges from 1,500 hours for those with a bachelor’s degree in a field such as zoology to 4,500 hours for those who do not complete enough credits to earn an approved degree.
Step 3: Pass VTNE (Timeline Varies) – Whether a vet tech has chosen formal education or on-the-job training as their route to certification, vet techs in Oregon must sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) as administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. The computer-based exam is used to evaluate entry-level veterinary technicians’ competency to practice and to be credentialed.
Step 4: Pass Oregon Jurisprudence Exam/Regional Disease Test (Timeline Varies) – No matter which path to certification a new vet tech, he or she must take and pass the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam/Regional Disease Test. This 25 question exam covers diseases local to the Pacific Northwest and preparation for it should be part of any accredited vet tech program based in Oregon.
Step 5: Apply for CVT Certification (Timeline Varies) – Vet techs who meet all the requirements laid out above are eligible to apply to become CVTs. The application is available online and is administered by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board.
|VETERINARY CAREER||OREGON JOBS||SALARY DATA (BLS 2020)|
|LOW SALARY (10TH %ILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)|
Vet Tech Career Outlook & Salary in Oregon
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) predicts there will be significant growth in the number of jobs available for vet techs in the coming years. The overall demand for vet techs in the U.S. is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average 4 percent growth rate expected for all jobs.
In Oregon (OR), veterinary technician and technologist jobs are expected to increase by 23 percent between 2018 and 2028 (Projections Central 2021). The annual average salary for the 109,490 vet techs across the U.S. in 2020 was $37,860, and at an average salary of $39,150, vet techs in Oregon are currently making roughly equal to the national average (BLS 2020).
Here’s a comparison of national and state salary percentiles for veterinary technicians:
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||1,350|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$39,150|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$36,930|
While earning levels are on par with the rest of the country, potential vet techs in Oregon may be interested to know that cost of living is the fifth most expensive in the U.S. (MERIC 2020). Although Oregon boasts lower than average utility costs, the dollar in Oregon doesn’t stretch as far to cover the costs of housing, transportation, groceries, and health.
For those on the job hunt, the Portland Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) maintains an active listing of jobs all across the state, including opportunities to work with organizations like the Ha’Penny Cavaliers, Veterinary Cancer & Surgery Specialists, Washington County Animal Services, Kenton and Cathedral Animal Hospital, Columbia River Veterinary Specialists, Sunnyside Veterinary Hospital, and more. In addition to PVMA, Oregon-minded vet techs can find local opportunities on PortlandVeterinaryJobs.com or iHireVeterinary.
CVT Certification & Program Accreditation for Vet Techs in Oregon
Applying for a license as a certified veterinary technician in Oregon first requires the applicant to have a degree from an approved school with AVMA accreditation. In addition, the graduate needs to have taken and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam, or VTNE. The school needs to have accreditation for the student to be able to sit for the exam.
Once a student passes the exam, they can go to the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board and access the application for licensure. The application is easy to fill out, and after submitting it, along with the fee, students may need to wait just a short time to become certified and licensed techs.
It’s important that students consider schools that have AVMA accreditation. Accreditation ensures that the school has a program that is rigorous and that meets specific standards of vet tech training. Some of the things the AVMA examines when looking at program accreditation include:
- Institutional accreditation
- Resources for training
Students will find a variety of vet tech programs that are available. By choosing one of the vet tech schools in Oregon with AVMA accreditation, they may well be on their way toward career establishment and success.