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 over 150 years old, making it the third-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 large staff of volunteers and nonprofit workers really step up to speak and care for those who have no voice. Working closely with elected officials, RISPCA has expanded protections to protect animals in households experiencing domestic abuse, more expedient care for animals seized due to cruelty, more restrictions on the sources for saleable dogs and cots, and expanded protections for canines and horse.
One way to become involved with helping animals in Rhode Island is to become a veterinary technician (vet tech). 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.
Rhode Island (RI) vet techs enjoy some of the most generous privileges of practice in the United States. There are no specific state-based restrictions on what services these animal healthcare professionals can provide, and also no legal requirements to become certified to practice as a vet tech in the state. While certification is not a legal necessity, the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association (RIVTA) does offer a voluntary vet tech certification that mirrors what is required for vet techs to practice in other states. This voluntary certification can be used by a vet tech in Rhode Island to prove competency, increase competitiveness in the job market, and/or lead to slightly higher salaries than those who do not have this credential.
Because the requirements for the voluntary credential mirror the legal requirements in other states, earning the credential may also be important to vet techs who wish to eventually become veterinary technician specialists (VTS). Certified Vet Techs (CVTs) and VTS candidates both need to complete a two- or four-year vet tech program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program-approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Specialization beyond initial certification involves earning several years and thousands of hours of experience, specialized training, and passing an exam in the specialty of the vet tech’s choosing. 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.
|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
In order to qualify for the voluntary vet tech credential in Rhode Island, animal-loving 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).
Vet tech school applicants are often expected to submit the following to earn admission into accredited programs: 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.
In Rhode Island, the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) in East Greenwich is the sole CVTEA-accredited program in the state. NEIT offers a 100 quarter-hour associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology that prepares graduates to provide professional support to veterinarians. Courses in the NEIT’s program include animal anatomy & physiology; veterinary imaging; animal management; veterinary pharmacology; large animal nursing; and veterinary clinical laboratory procedures. There are several hands-on lab sections that 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. As of May 2021, no information regarding Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) pass rates was available on NEIT’s website.
Online Vet Tech Schools for Rhode Island Students
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 close to the student’s home.
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. The entire cost of the program, if paid in full is $1299 or $1749 if paid in monthly installments. Between 2017 and 2020, 71 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 2017 and 2020, 89.8 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 2020) projected a 16 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2018 and 2028. This figure is four times the average growth anticipated for all US occupations during that time period (4 percent). And this addition of 18.300 vet tech positions across the country is only part of the good news.
According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2021)—an organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—the veterinary technician career represents the fastest-growing career for associate degree holders in RI. CareerOneStop predicts a 21 percent increase in RI vet tech openings between 2018 and 2028.
Vet Tech Salaries in Rhode Island and Nationwide
In May of 2020, the BLS found that the 109,490 vet techs working in the United States made an average of $37,860 per year. How much vet techs in Rhode Island make depends greatly on various factors including experience, location, type of vet tech position, and more. The following chart compares vet tech salaries in Rhode Island to the national averages to help aspiring vet techs create a baseline understanding of earning potential at various earning levels:
|United States||Rhode Island|
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||210|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$38,160|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$38,230|
It’s important to note that while the salary percentiles for vet techs tend to be higher than national averages, the cost of living in RI is also substantially higher than in many other areas. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) found that RI is the tenth most expensive state in which to live, and has especially steep housing and utility costs. Salaries for vet techs in Rhode Island may be higher as a response to the reality of the higher cost of living in this region.
Where Do Rhode Island Vet Techs Work?
In RI, there are a wide array of work environments for 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 continuously updated vet tech openings around Rhode Island. Some of the opportunities listed in April of 2021 include vet tech jobs at National Veterinary Associates, Banfield Pet Hospital, Pathway Vet Alliance, Lifespan, VCA Antech Inc., and Ocean State Veterinary Specialists.
From a professional standpoint, vet techs in Rhode Island can benefit from becoming members of the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association (RIVTA). RIVTA offers a voluntary professional certification (see the section below), a job posting board, continuing education (CE) opportunities, and more. The careers section of RIVTA in May of 2021 had job opportunities for techs at North Kingstown Animal Hospital, Newport Animal Hospital, Cowesett Animal Hospital, VCA Povar Animal Hospital, and Bristol County Veterinary Hospital.
For vet techs that find a certain aspect of animal nursing piques their professional curiosity, there are many societies and academies designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). These academies offer specialized credentialing in areas such as animal behavior, animal psychology, dermatology, rehabilitation, anesthesia, clinical pathology, zoological medicine, and more. Vet techs who wish to eventually specialize may want to seek jobs that provide practice opportunities in that medical discipline.
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 2020)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Median Salary (50th %ile)||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:
- Graduation 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 ($50 if paid by money order)
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.
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 ten 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.