The Palmetto State—also known as the “Pawmetto” State to animal-lovers—provides a wealth of organizations committed to furry, feathered, and scaly-skinned creatures. The non-profit Animal Protection League of South Carolina (APLSC) was founded in 1982 and offers fundraising activities (e.g., auctions, rummage sales) and a weekly Adopt-a-Pet event each Saturday to connect pets with loving homes.
Pawmetto Lifeline of Columbia, South Carolina (SC) rescues animals and advocates a no-kill shelter policy. Despite the abundant services advancing the cause, there’s still a lot of work to be done in SC.
One way to become involved in promoting animal wellbeing is to become a veterinary technician. Interestingly, South Carolina has relatively strict laws regarding the scope of practice in this profession. In its regional chart, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA 2022) defines a vet tech in SC as a person who has received a degree in animal health technology from an AVMA-accredited program and has received licensure to practice in the state.
Vet techs in SC must have immediate supervision from a licensed veterinarian while providing surgical assistance and floating horse teeth. They must have direct supervision while administering anesthesia, vaccines, or euthanasia; undertaking common dental procedures; giving blood transfusions; doing basic first aid (e.g., applying splints); or performing catheterizations.
SC vet techs can perform some duties under indirect supervision, including giving medication or parenteral fluid; performing diagnostic imaging; collecting blood or urine; preparing tissue samples; doing basic laboratory tests; and managing the handling of hazardous wastes. Finally, under emergency conditions when a licensed vet may not be present, vet techs can perform several duties with indirect or phone supervision such as applying tourniquets, temporary splints, or bandages; and resuscitating animal patients.
In addition to these responsibilities, vet techs in SC can also expect to restrain animals during common procedures; maintain veterinary medical records; monitor the health status of animal patients; manage animal clinic offices and drug inventories; keep surgical and examination rooms sterile; and educate animal owners on proper care.
Keep reading to learn about the bright job outlook for vet techs nationwide and in SC, as well as to discover accredited vet tech programs and how to become professionally licensed.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Piedmont Technical College||620 North Emerald Road, Greenwood, South Carolina, 29646||No||Yes|
|Tri-County Technical College||7900 US-76, Pendleton, South Carolina, 29670||No||Yes|
|Trident Technical College||7000 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston, South Carolina, 29406||No||Yes|
Demand for Vet Techs in South Carolina
Without a doubt, South Carolina is currently a hot state for vet tech job openings. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) projected that opportunities nationwide for vet techs will increase 15 percent between 2020 and 2030. This figure is much higher than the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that period (8 percent).
In SC, these prospects look even more bright. Projections Central (2021) found that openings for veterinary technicians and technologists are expected to increase 24.4 percent between 2018 and 2028—much higher than what’s anticipated nationally.
Where Do Vet Techs in South Carolina Work?
South Carolina’s veterinary technicians are employed in a wide range of facilities such as veterinary hospitals, specialty animal clinics (e.g., behavioral, surgical, zoological, etc.), kennels, farms, research organizations, public policy groups, labs, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, universities, state and federal regulatory agencies, food inspection groups, and aquariums. Some SC vet techs work regular business hours—particularly if they’re involved in lab work or diagnostics—whereas others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays to monitor the health of their animal patients.
One standout option for the job hunt in SC is iHireVeterinary, which has posted vet tech openings at places such as the Pathway Vet Alliance, Alpha Genesis, Inc., VCA Animal Hospitals, Vector, Banfield Pet Hospital, Southern Veterinary Partners, Carolina Veterinary Specialists, and more. Indeed (January 2022) adds additional posts with employers including Banfield Pet Hospital, VCA Animal Hospitals, University of South Carolina, and West Ashley Veterinary Clinic. Finally, Monster (January 2022) has postings at varied locations as well such as VetCor, Mission Veterinary Partners, Encore Vet Group, and Westside Veterinary Clinic. In sum, there are ample opportunities in this field across the state.
Additionally, some vet techs in SC may find it advantageous to specialize and become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). This process not only enhances a person’s skills in one particular field—areas such as behavior, surgery, clinical practice, pathology, dentistry, radiology, zoological medicine, etc.—but also can enhance one’s resume and salary prospects.
To learn more about how to become a VTS, visit the veterinary technician careers page.
South Carolina Vet Tech Salaries
While the veterinary technician salaries in South Carolina are slightly lower than national averages, the cost of living in the Palmetto State is also lower than almost half of the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2022) found that SC ranked twenty-first concerning affordability, boasting particular savings in housing relative to the rest of the country. Please keep this in mind while examining the salary overviews.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) reported an annual average salary of $37,860 among the 109,490 vet techs across the country. In more detailed terms, American vet techs had the following salary percentiles:
|United States||South Carolina|
|Number of Veterinary Technicians Employed||109,490||2,110|
|Annual mean wage||$37,860||$34,150|
|50th Percentile (Median)||$36,260||$33,850|
It’s important to note that these figures also varied based on the source of data. By illustration, Indeed (January 2022) found an average annual salary of $27,208 among South Carolina veterinary technicians, while PayScale (January 2022), found the following percentiles nationally:
- 10th percentile: $28,000
- 50th percentile (median): $37,973
- 90th percentile: $52,000
Finding Accredited Vet Tech Programs in South Carolina
While veterinary technicians and assistants used to learn many of their skills on the job in the past, it is now more common for these animal healthcare professionals to seek out a formal two- to four-year program and professional licensure.
According to O*NET (2022)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—reports that a majority of vet techs nationally hold a high school diploma or equivalent (41 percent) followed by an associate’s degree (26 percent). Most importantly, becoming professionally licensed and graduating from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is mandatory prior to practice in this occupation in SC.
To learn more about program accreditation and professional licensure, please check out the final sections of this article.
To gain entry into an AVMA-accredited vet tech program, applicants typically must submit:
- Official high school transcripts
- Proof of having finished particular classes (e.g., algebra, biology, psychology, basic computer skills, English)
- Personal statement
- Proof of health insurance and vaccinations
Additionally, some programs ask for experience working or volunteering in animal healthcare, letters of recommendation, candidate interviews, or test scores (e.g., TOEFL for ESL students).
Luckily for aspiring vet techs in SC, there are currently three CVTEA-accredited programs in the state: Piedmont Technical College, TriCounty Technical College, and Trident Technical College.
Piedmont Technical College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology preparing graduates to sit for the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) to become fully licensed veterinary technicians.
Made up of 77 credits, the program includes courses such as animal breeds and husbandry; office management and client education; anatomy and physiology; parasitology; pharmacology; large animal clinical practice; lab animal medicine; and animal nutrition. Students work with cats and dogs at the local animal shelter in Newberry County, as well as on local farms to gain experience with larger animals such as horses, cows, goats, and sheep.
Recent graduates have gained employment at Dutch Fork Animal Hospital, Grace Animal Hospital–Lexington, SC, and Verdin Veterinary Specialist. This five-semester program has produced impressive results among its graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the main national credentialing exam in this profession. In fact, between 2018 and 2021, 79.1 percent of Piedmont’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
- Location: Greenwood, SC
- Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
- Estimated Tuition: Greenwood, McCormick, Newberry, and Saluda Counties ($184.25 per credit); Abbeville, Edgefield, and Laurens Counties ($205.75 per credit); out-of-region ($216.25 per credit); out-of-state ($269.50 per credit)
TriCounty Technical College of Pendleton also provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. This 75 credit program can be completed part-time (three years) or full-time (two years), and there is a uniquely flexible schedule including day and evening course options. The program is a “shelter medicine facility” which houses dogs and cats of all sizes, and students are supervised by LVTs and veterinarians while taking care of animals, spaying, and neutering.
This hands-on experience from the get-go gives graduates a leg up in the vet tech world. Courses include animal breeds and husbandry; veterinary anesthesia; clinical pathology; clinical techniques; microbiology; veterinary pharmacology; veterinary anesthesia; and an externship at one of the locally approved veterinary facilities.
Impressively, between 2017 and 2020, 93 percent of TriCounty Technical College’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) on their first attempt.
- Location: Pendleton, SC
- Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
- Estimated Tuition: Anderson, Oconee, Pickens Counties ($185.33 per credit); all other SC counties ($243.33 per credit); out-of-state ($429.33 per credit)
Trident Technical College of Charleston provides a 76-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology preparing graduates to assist small and large animal veterinarians and providing opportunities for careers in pharmaceutical and research laboratories and veterinary supply businesses.
The program involves classes such as office management and client communication; veterinary terminology and calculations; large animal clinical practice; small animal diseases, zoonosis, and client; microbiology; veterinary parasitology and laboratory animal medicine; and various special topics seminars.
Labs take place in a facility equipped with a surgical laser, digital x-ray systems, ultrasound machines, and in-house blood diagnostic machines. Animals from local shelters that are less likely to be adopted are brought into the veterinary program where their needs are addressed. Students care for and work with animals to return them to the shelter for adoption. Students also complete a preceptorship.
Among Trident’s program graduates between 2017 and 2020, 65 percent passed the VTNE on their first try.
- Location: Charleston, SC
- Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
- Estimated Tuition: Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties ($188.69 per credit); other South Carolina residency ($209.34 per credit); out-of-state residency ($357.14 per credit)
Online Vet Tech Programs for South Carolina Students
For some prospective students in more rural areas of SC or those with professional, familial, or other types of time commitments, attending an online vet tech program may make more sense. These programs typically involve a combination of rigorous online courses and in-person clinical practicums under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Especially for people employed in a veterinary setting or with an approved facility and mentor in mind, a web-based program can be ideal.
In addition to the flexible scheduling and general education courses offered online at TriCounty Technical College, there are several distance-based, CVTEA-accredited vet tech programs across the country.
One popular choice is the associate program at Penn Foster College of AZ, which boasts a dedicated faculty, multimedia coursework, and an affordable price at just $85 per credit. For residents of SC, there are various Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals that are approved for students to complete clinical work.
The program comprises 73 credits. Distance-based courses include anatomy and physiology; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; clinical pathology; medical mathematics; radiography for veterinary technicians; and clinical parasitology. Between 2018 and 2021, 75.86 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Penn Foster also offers a bachelor of science degree in veterinary technology that is designed specifically for students who have already earned an AVMA-accredited associate degree.
- Location: Scottsdale, AZ
- Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
- Expected Time to Completion: Associate degree (16 to 24 months); bachelor’s degree (36 to 48 months)
- Estimated Tuition: $85 per credit
Another option is at Colby Community College (CCC) of Kansas. This online associate of applied science (AAS) degree has classes such as principles of animal science; basic nutrition of domestic animals; veterinary medical terminology; medical records and veterinary office skills; and breeds of domestic animals. The program consists of 82 credits.
Among CCC’s on-campus graduates in veterinary technology, 82.86 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt (2018 to 2021). The first-time pass rate for graduates of the distance program was 85 percent in the same period.
- Location: Colby, KS
- Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Expected Time to Completion: Eight terms
- Estimated Tuition: Thomas County ($136.25 per credit); Kansas resident ($141.25 per credit); out-of-state ($195.25 per credit)
To discover other web-based training options in veterinary technology, please check out the online vet tech schools page.
South Carolina (SC) Vet Tech Licensing – Become an LVT
As mentioned above, professional licensure for veterinary technicians is mandatory in South Carolina. The South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is the main credentialing agency. To qualify as a licensed veterinary technician (LVT), candidates must do the following:
- Apply with a passport-style photo, a copy of one’s driver’s license and social security card, and a $50 fee
- Pass the South Carolina Examination (i.e., Veterinary Medical Practice Rules and Regulations test) with a score of at least 70 percent
- Send official transcripts from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)
- Send official scores from the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
These licenses must be renewed every two years by March 31, following the completion of ten hours of continuing education (CE). Half of the CE credits can come from distance-based learning, as long as the provider has been pre-approved by the Board. For more information about the sources that qualify, please visit the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners website.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
For aspiring vet techs in South Carolina and beyond, seeking out programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is highly recommended. For SC vet techs, it’s a prerequisite to licensure. The CVTEA weighs many factors in its veterinary technology program approval process, including:
- Student outcomes indicators (e.g., VTNE pass-rates)
- School or program finances
- Organization and communications effectiveness
- Quality of program facilities and equipment
- Clinical training opportunities
- Availability of libraries and other resources
- Admissions standards
- Faculty and staff quality
- Curriculum comprehensiveness
For a detailed look at each of these factors, please visit the accreditation standards on the CVTEA website.