In Rhode Island, also called Little Rhody, there’s a unique history of promoting animal welfare, adoption services, and proper veterinary care. In fact, the Rhode Island SPCA (RISPCA) is almost 150 years old, making it the 3rd oldest humane society in the US. With services such as animal cruelty investigations, education, legal support, adoption services, discounted veterinary care (i.e., the Marvin Fund), and a variety of events, RISPCA enlists a large staff of volunteers and nonprofit workers. One standout event is the Hearts & Paws Pasta Dinner, a large fundraiser for the organization featuring auctions, raffles, and dinner. Additionally, the RISPCA hosts the Horse & Rider Versatility Event, a trail ride which supports equine advocacy and raises money for RISPCA.
One way to become involved with helping animals is to become a veterinary technician (vet tech). Rhode Island (RI) vet techs enjoy some of the most generous privileges of practice in the United States. By illustration, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2017) reports that there are no specific state-based restrictions on what services these animal healthcare professionals can provide. Also, professional certification through the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association (RIVTA) is voluntary, whereas in other states, vet techs must be credentialed (i.e., registered, certified, or licensed) prior to practice.
So what do vet techs do? According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), veterinary technicians have a wealth of responsibilities such as assisting veterinarians with common diagnostic, surgical, or dental procedures; restraining animals during routine examinations; maintaining the cleanliness and sterilization of facilities; managing medical records of animals; monitoring anesthesia levels during surgeries; taking inventory of veterinary supplies; providing basic first aid care to a variety of animal species; taking and analyzing laboratory samples (e.g., bodily fluids); and educating pet owners on proper care. Furthermore, some vet techs choose to become veterinary technician specialists (VTS), a process which typically involves several years of experience, specialized training, and the passing of an exam in a designated specialty area. Some common specialties include critical care, anesthesia, nutrition, equine health, zoological medicine, dermatology, and dentistry. For more information on becoming a VTS, please visit the main veterinary technician career page.
Read on to discover the bright career outlook for vet techs in RI, as well as to learn what to expect from an accredited vet tech school and professional certification.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Rhode Island
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|New England Institute of Technology (NEIT)||One New England Tech Blvd., East Greenwich, Rhode Island, 2818||No||Yes|
AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Rhode Island
For animal-lovers in the northeast, there is an abundance of accredited vet tech programs in RI and in neighboring states. In order to qualify for credentialing in most areas, students must graduate from a two- to four-year program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). This is the main approval body for vet tech programs, and there is currently one qualifying program in the state of RI.
First, admissions offices typically need the following for vet tech school applicants: copies of official transcripts with proof of having completed specific courses (e.g., chemistry, biology, English, algebra), test scores (SAT or ACT, and the TOEFL for non-native speakers of English), a personal statement, and an application fee. Additionally, some programs call for candidates to have hands-on experience working with animals and may even ask for an interview.
Typical classes in accredited veterinary technology programs include veterinary practice management; clinical pathology; animal diseases; medical terminology; surgical nursing & anesthesia; vet laboratory procedures; diagnostic imaging; animal dentistry; small animal nursing; large animal nursing; pharmacology; veterinary parasitology; wildlife medicine; and general education courses.
The sole CVTEA-accredited in RI is at the New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, which offers an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology with classes such as animal anatomy & physiology; veterinary imaging; animal management; and veterinary clinical laboratory procedures. There are several hands-on lab sections which are taken in conjunction with relevant coursework. The program focuses on exposing students to team concepts and professional and ethical behaviors. In addition, students complete four practicums throughout the program. From 2015 to 2018, students who took the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) had a 73.13% first-time passing rate, which is above the national average.
Online Vet Tech Schools
Since there is only one CVTEA-accredited vet tech school in RI, some students may find it difficult to attend. They may live far away or have other types of commitments which would make an online program a better option. In general, distance-based programs involve the completion of online coursework in combination with a supervised preceptorship through a local, approved veterinary site.
Currently there are several distance-based, CVTEA-accredited programs in veterinary technology. For example, Penn Foster College offers an online associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology, featuring courses such as information literacy; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; medical mathematics; radiology; animal nutrition, reproduction, genetics, and aging; and clinical pathology. As part of the program, students complete a 24-credit externship through a site located close to their homes. It costs only $79 per credit, and between 2014 and 2017, 63.3 percent of program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Another online AAS program is available through San Juan College which has 12-week courses in areas such as vertebrate zoology, introduction to genetics, veterinary business procedures, and microbiology. General education courses last 16 weeks. Students begin the program in January, May, or August. Students complete clinical experiences at approved Off-Campus Clinical Instruction (OCCI) sites. Between 2015 and 2018, 88.1 percent of San Juan’s program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
To learn more about accredited distance-based programs in veterinary technology, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.
Job Outlook for Rhode Island Vet Techs
In the Ocean State and nationwide, the career outlook for vet techs is very bright. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017) projected a 20 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2016 and 2026. This figure is nearly triple the average growth anticipated for all US occupations during that time period (7 percent). And this addition of 20,400 vet tech positions across the country is only part of the good news. According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2018)—an organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—the veterinary technician career represents the third fastest growing career for associate degree holders in RI. CareerOneStop predicts a 18 percent increase in RI vet tech openings between 2014 and 2024.
Rhode Island vet techs also make slightly more per year on average, than national salaries. The BLS (2017) found an annual average salary of $34,710 for vet techs nationwide, whereas the figure jumped is $35,440 for vet techs in RI. In hourly terms, these figures were $16.69/hr. and $17.04/hr. respectively.
In further detail, the BLS (2017) found the following salary percentiles for the 103,430 vet techs working across the country:
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
As a basis of comparison, Payscale (2018)—a reputed collector of self-reported salary data—found similar figures among the 327 vet techs responding:
- 10th percentile: $20,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,887
- 75th percentile: $39,000
- 90th percentile: $47,000
In the Ocean State, the percentiles were slightly higher at most salary levels for vet techs employed (BLS 2017):
- 10th percentile: $26,520
- 25th percentile: $29,690
- 50th percentile (median): $35,010
- 75th percentile: $40,990
- 90th percentile: $46,880
In hourly terms, vet techs in RI can expect to make (BLS 2017):
- 10th percentile: $12.75/hr.
- 25th percentile: $14.27/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $16.83/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.71/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.54/hr.
Not surprisingly, these wages also tend to vary by region and levels of experience and the Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-MA area had the highest mean annual wage at $39,040. According to BLS (2017), there are two designated regions in RI:
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA (520 vet techs employed): $36,190 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $26,580
- 25th percentile: $30,170
- 50th percentile (median): $35,420
- 75th percentile: $41,530
- 90th percentile: $47,600
Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI (110 vet techs employed): $39,040 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $27,450
- 25th percentile: $30,840
- 50th percentile (median): $35,510
- 75th percentile: $40,590
- 90th percentile: $57,950
In hourly terms, the wages in this region were:
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA: $17.39/hr. average
- 10th percentile: $12.78/hr.
- 25th percentile: $14.50/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $17.03/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.97/hr.
- 90th percentile: $22.88/hr.
Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI: $18.76/hr. average
- 10th percentile: $13.20/hr.
- 25th percentile: $14.83/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $17.07/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.51/hr.
- 90th percentile: $27.86/hr.
It’s important to note that while the salary percentiles for vet techs are somewhat higher than national averages, the cost of living in RI is also substantially higher than many other areas. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that RI is the tenth most expensive state in which to live, and has especially steep housing costs.
Finally, vet tech salaries also vary by experience. Although the BLS does not keep data on this variable, Payscale (2018) has accumulated median annual salary figures according to different levels of time on the job and number of respondents in each category:
- Entry-level (0-5 years): $29,9550
- Mid-career (5-10 years): $32,479
- Experienced (10-20 years): $36,227
- Late-career (20+ years): $39,997
In RI, there is a wide array of environments which employ vet techs such as veterinary hospitals, clinics, animal sanctuaries, zoos, biomedical research facilities, aquariums, kennels, farms, shelters, pharmaceutical companies, and animal welfare organizations. In addition to traditional job search websites such as Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and SimplyHired, iHireVeterinary provides continually updated vet tech openings around Rhode Island. Some of these include Banfield Pet Hospital, Hill and Harbour Veterinary Center, Oaklawn Animal Hospital, and Bayside Veterinary Care.
Vet techs in RI are encouraged to become members of the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association (RIVTA), an organization which offers a voluntary professional certification (see section below), a job posting board, continuing education (CE) opportunities, and more.
Additionally, some people in the field of veterinary technology choose to specialize. There are many societies and academies designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)—some of them with specialized credentialing—in areas such as animal behavior, animal psychology, dermatology, rehabilitation, anesthesia, clinical pathology, and zoological medicine, to name a few.
For more information about these subfields and how to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), please visit the main page on veterinary technicians.
|Veterinary Career||Rhode Island Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Certification for Rhode Island Vet Techs
Although certification is voluntary for vet techs in RI, it may be advisable in order to enhance one’s candidacy for jobs and potentially qualify one for credentialing in other states. Professional certification for vet techs is available through the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association (RIVTA), which requires the following of applicants:
- Graduating from an AVMA-accredited (i.e., CVTEA-accredited) program in veterinary technology
- Passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) with a score of at least 425
- Completing an application
- Paying a $51.80 application fee
To maintain an active RIVTA certification, veterinary technicians must complete 12 hours of qualifying continuing education (CE) and submit a certification renewal form before December 31 annually with a $40 fee. RIVTA adds that six CE credits must be from a physical venue (e.g., conference, seminar, etc.) and the remaining six credits can be completed online.
Here are a few of the organizations which provide online CE opportunities:
- VetMed Team
- AtDove CE
- National American Veterinary Technicians Association (NAVTA)
- Veterinary Support Personnel Network (VSPN)
Rhode Island Vet Tech Program Accreditation
Finally, it’s important for prospective vet techs in RI to verify the accreditation status of their programs. As mentioned above, the predominant accreditation body is the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, and there are currently nine approved distance-based programs in addition to one campus-based program in RI. The committee weighs a number of factors in its process such as the quality of facilities & equipment, the availability of clinical instruction resources & student support, and an assessment of student outcomes. Please visit the CVTEA Accreditation Standards page for a full examination of the criteria.
|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|
|No||CVT||Yes||Yes||Rhode Island does not require its veterinary technicians to become certified with the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association (RIVTA). At least two years of education in a vet tech program is generally a requirement for most employers. Taking the VTNE upon graduation may still be advisable for those candidates interested in being employable in other states.||Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association|