For aspiring veterinary technicians in the Keystone State, the future looks very bright indeed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), there are currently 5,650 vet techs employed in Pennsylvania, making it the fourth highest employing state nationally. In addition, the Pittsburgh area alone is one of the highest employing metropolitan areas for these animal care specialists in the U.S. at 1,540. Furthermore, vet techs were paid an average annual salary of $35,880 in Pennsylvania, higher than the national average of $34,710.
Not only is Pennsylvania one of the highest employing states with a higher-than-average annual wage, but the career prospects for this profession both in this state and nationally are predicted to grow considerably. The BLS (2017) reports that openings for vet techs and technologists are expected to swell 20% nationally between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations (7%).
So how does an animal-lover in the Quaker State become involved in this career on the rise? Although vet techs must become certified by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association prior to practice, there are a number of accredited veterinary technician schools in PA to prepare aspiring animal healthcare professionals for all of the steps involved.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Pennsylvania
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Harcum College||750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 19010-3470||No||Yes|
|Johnson College||3427 N Main Ave, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18508-1495||No||Yes|
|Lehigh Carbon Community College||4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, 18078-2598||No||Yes|
|Manor College||700 Fox Chase Rd, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 19046-3399||No||Yes|
|Northampton County Area Community College||3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18020-7599||No||No|
|Pittsburgh Career Institute||421 7th Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15219||No||Yes|
|The Vet Tech Institute||125 Seventh St, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15222-3400||No||Yes|
|Wilson College||1015 Philadelphia Ave, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 17201-1285||No||Yes|
|YTI Career Institute||2900 Fairway Drive, York, Pennsylvania, 16602||No||Yes|
Finding Accredited Vet Tech Programs in PA
There are a number of quality vet tech schools in Pennsylvania. In order to become eligible for practice, candidates must graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Accreditation ensures that schools are meeting standards of quality, including instruction, curriculum, clinical opportunities, and student outcomes. Prior to enrolling in a program, all prospective veterinary technicians in PA are advised to check the AVMA status of their programs. All programs include labs and some sort of clinical experience such as a preceptorship or externship.
As of 2018, there are ten AVMA-accredited vet tech programs in PA:
- Harcum College, located in Bryn Mawr, offers students an associate of science (AS) degree program in veterinary technology. In addition to taking courses such as anatomy & physiology of domestic animals, pharmacology/anesthesia, and advanced nursing skills, students have the opportunity to gain clinical experience at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. This program typically takes six semesters to complete both the didactic and clinical practicum requirements. The first-time pass rate for Harcum graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) was 72% between 2014 and 2017.
- The Vet Tech Institute, with locations in six cities across the country, is another popular veterinary technician school in PA. Taking only 18 months to complete and conveniently located in Pittsburgh, this program prepares students to sit for the veterinary technician national exam (VTNE) in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Courses include animal technology; radiography; clinical medicine; anesthesia; and large animal theory. The Vet Tech Institute had a 68% passing rate on the VTNE among Pittsburgh graduates between 2015 and 2018.
- Manor College is another esteemed vet tech program in PA, accredited by the AMVA since 1992, and boasting a beautiful 35-acre campus and 50-acre farm. The campus offers hands-on labs in surgery, large and small animals, radiology, and more. Courses include hematology; animal medicine; veterinary radiology; veterinary pharmacology, anesthesiology and pain management; animal nutrition; small animal dentistry; and more. Most notably, the clinical sections are relatively small with only six to nine students to guarantee adequate individual instruction. The college is only a short distance from Philadelphia and offers a two-year associate of science (AS) degree to graduates after coursework in subjects such as breeds & behavior, laboratory animal science, and hematology. VTNE first-time pass scores averaged an impressive 82% for Manor graduates from 2015-2018.
- Wilson College in Philadelphia is another one of the available vet tech schools in PA. Wilson offers a four-year bachelor’s of science (BS) degree in veterinary technology. This program has three concentrations for students depending on their career aspirations: veterinary biology, veterinary business management, and Equi-Assist. All concentrations offer core courses such as parasitology; animal management; animal diseases and nutrition; laboratory animal science; veterinary anatomy/physiology; and more. The vet biology concentrations has courses in biology, chemistry, microbiology, and college algebra. Veterinary business management concentration has courses in financial accounting; biology; management; entrepreneurship/small business management; marketing and others. The Equi-Assist concentration has courses in equine management; ground training the horse; equine health management; advanced equine techniques; equine clinical and surgical practices; and more. While a BS program takes more time to complete than an associates degree, it can offer students more advanced instruction and may enhance one’s career prospects and chances of passing the VTNE. The first-time pass-rate for graduates of Wilson College between 2014 and 2017 was 62.5%.
- YTI Career Institute in York, PA, offers a 21 month associate in specialized technology degree. Some portions of the program are taught at Leg Up Farm and White Oak Farm where students have the opportunity to learn and practice their skills with large animals such as cows and horses. Students are trained in animal anatomy and physiology; animal nursing; sanitation; animal behavior; euthanasia; animal husbandry; and more.The first-time pass-rate for graduates of YTI graduates between 2015 and 2018 was 44.4%.
- Johnson College offers a 71 credit associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. On-campus, students gain hands-on knowledge and skills at the Johnson College Animal Care Center offers routine exams, dental care, spays and neuters, and lab diagnostics to dogs and cats. Courses include clinical applications for small and large animals; animal anatomy and physiology; parasitology and immunology; animal husbandry/breeds/nutrition; surgical nursing; and more. Johnson College graduates have a three-year, first-time VTNE pass rate of 60% (2014-2017).
- Lehigh Carbon Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. Courses include animal management and nutrition; introduction to computers and applications; physiological chemistry; veterinary clinical laboratory techniques; veterinary parasitology; animal disease; and more. In collaboration with Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA, also offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology. Students at Northampton complete courses and labs there, while also taking part in clinical training at Lehigh’s veterinary technician barn, working with large and small animals. Lehigh and Northampton graduates boast a VTNE first-time pass rate of 91% (2015-2018).
- Another option is offered through Lancaster County Career and Technology Center. Future vet techs will complete a 2-year, 74 credit associate degree program (AST) at the Willow Street campus. Courses include laboratory animal/avian/exotics; large animal science; veterinary office management; emergency small animal; veterinary dentistry; veterinary nutrition; veterinary anesthesia/surgical nursing; and more. Clinical externship sites include veterinary offices, animal hospitals, and the Humane League of Lancaster County. The Technology Center received CVTEA accreditation in March of 2018.
- Finally, Pittsburgh Career Institute offers an associate in specialized technology (AST) degree in veterinary technology. The 88-credit program combines hands-on practice at their on-campus laboratory, x-ray, and surgical facilities, as well as at clinical instruction sites including agricultural farms, equine veterinary offices, animal shelters, animal hospitals, and clinics. Courses include hematology and urinalysis techniques; internal parasitology; breeds/preventative medicine; specialized nutrition; avian and exotic care; veterinary surgical nursing; and more. Pittsburgh Career Institute received initial CVTEA accreditation in December, 2015.
For information on distance-based vet tech programs, visit our online vet tech programs page.
How to Become a Vet Tech in PA
Here are the typical steps to become a veterinary technician in Pennsylvania:
- Pass prerequisite classes in high school. To gain admittance to an accredited program in Pennsylvania, aspiring vet techs typically must have taken algebra I/II, biology, and chemistry. Some programs also recommend classes in physics, calculus, or statistics to enhance a student’s candidacy.
- Graduate from an accredited vet tech program in Pennsylvania (2-4 years). In order to become eligible for this profession, vet techs must complete a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These programs can last from 18 months to four years, generally resulting in an associate of science (A.S.), an associate of applied science (AAS), or a bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) after completing all requirements. The O*NET (2016)—a partner of the American Job Center—reports that a majority of vet techs nationally hold associate degrees (68%). In these programs, Pennsylvania students may take classes such as veterinary clinical pathology, surgery, radiology procedures, and exotic animal nutrition, in addition to completing clinical practicums.
- Take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). In order to be eligible in this state, one must have passed with a score of at least 425.
- Become certified with the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine (a few weeks). To become a vet tech in this state, these prospective healthcare professionals must get certified. There is no special state test or jurisprudence exam in Pennsylvania, but students must complete an application in addition to sending their VTNE exam scores. For those licensed in other states, they can apply for a vet tech certification endorsement with a letter of good standing from their current licensing entity.
- Maintain certification (every two years). Students are expected to maintain their certification from the Pennsylvania State Board. The certifications expire two years and candidates are eligible for recertificationfollowing the completion of 16 hours of continued education.
Therefore certified veterinary technicians in Pennsylvania can expect to complete two to five years of postsecondary work, depending on degree attained, VTNE testing schedule, and application submission method (online or paper-based).
Strong Outlook for Vet Tech Jobs in PA
There are strong job prospects for veterinary technicians both in the Pennsylvania and nationally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) estimates that there will be a 20% increase in openings for these professionals between 2016 and 2026, much more robust than the 7% growth projected for all occupations. With these 20,400 added jobs anticipated nationally, many of them in Pennsylvania, becoming a vet tech can be a wise career choice.
The BLS (2017) reported that there are 5,650 vet techs in Pennsylvania that make an average annual salary of $35,880, higher than the average national salary for these workers at $34,710. Here is the national salary data:
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
For comparison, here is the salary data for PA:
- 10th percentile: $23,930
- 25th percentile: $28,650
- 50th percentile (median): $35,130
- 75th percentile: $42,220
- 90th percentile: $49,460
Given that vet tech school in Pennsylvania typically costs only a fraction of the expected annual salary for these professionals, this investment can pay off. In addition, Pennsylvania is ranked 30 in the most affordable states in which to live by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC, 2018), boasting savings and housing and health.
Additionally, some areas in Pennsylvania pay more than others. For example Johnstown, PA had the highest mean annual salary at $47, 430 and falls as the 4th highest paying region in the nation. The Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division came in second in PA at $42,820. Here’s a list of the average annual salaries for vet techs in various regions of PA (BLS 2017):
- Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division – $39,150
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – $37,960
- Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, PA – $35,560
- Northern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – $33,280
- Western Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – $29,770
- Southern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – $33,050
- Johnstown, PA – $47,430
- Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division – $42,820
- Pittsburgh, PA – $31,460
- Erie, PA – $34,280
Pennsylvania is also one of the top-employing states in the nation. Here are the employment numbers for some areas of PA:
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – 2,840 employed
- Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division – 750
- Pittsburgh, PA – 1,540
- Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ – 180
- Northern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – 70
- Southern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area – 110
- Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA – 170
- Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ – 330
- Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division – 870
In addition to the BLS, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) can be a valuable resource in staying abreast of issues in the community and industry at large.
|Veterinary Career||Pennsylvania Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Program Accreditation and Professional Certification for Vet Techs in PA
Prospective veterinary technicians in Pennsylvania must seek out programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) which gauges institutional quality in the following areas:
- Library and resources
- Outcomes assessment
Graduating from an AVMA-approved program makes students eligible to sit for the the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE), one of the requirements to become a certified veterinary technician in the state of PA.
According to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, vet techs must be certified in order to practice in this state. Before becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT), prospective vet techs must have graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, completed an application, and passed the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE) with a score of at least 425. There is no state certification or jurisprudence exam required. Additionally, this certification must be renewed every two years with 16 hours of continued education. There is a downloadable PDF of the application available from the State Board for Veterinary Medicine.
Overall, with high employment and salary prospects in the state of Pennsylvania, becoming a veterinary technician can be a promising career choice for animal-lovers.
|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||CVT||Yes||Yes||Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association|