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 2017) 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.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in South Carolina
|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|
Finding Accredited Vet Tech Schools 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 (2016)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—68 percent of vet techs nationwide hold associate degrees. 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 a 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, featuring courses such as veterinary terminology; office management and client education; anatomy & 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 Services. 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 2015 and 2018, 76.9 percent of Piedmont’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
TriCounty Technical College of Pendleton also provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. This 74 credit program can be completed part-time (3 years) or full-time (2 years), and there is a uniquely flexible schedule including day, evening, and online 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 & husbandry; veterinary anesthesia; clinical pathology; clinical techniques; and an externship at one of the locally approved veterinary facilities. Bbetween 2013 and 2016, seventy-nine percent of its graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
Trident Technical College of Charleston provides a 76-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. This involves classes such as office management & client communication; veterinary terminology and calculations; large animal clinical practice; small animal diseases, zoonosis and client; microbiology; laboratory animal medicine; and various special topics seminars. Labs take place in a facility equipped with a surgical laser, digital x-ray systems, ultrasound machine, 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 for the purpose of returning them to the shelter for adoption. Students also complete a preceptorship. Among Trident’s program graduates between 2014 and 2017, sixty-nine percent passed the VTNE on their first try.
Distance-based Vet Tech Programs
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 $79 per credit. For residents of SC, there are various Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals which are approved for students to complete clinical work. Distance-based courses include anatomy & physiology; medical nursing for veterinary technicians; radiology; medical mathematics; and clinical parasitology. Between 2014 and 2017, 63.3 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. 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; zoology; veterinary medical terminology; medical records & veterinary office skills; and breeds of domestic animals. Among CCC’s on-campus graduates in veterinary technology, 64 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt (2015-2018).
To discover other web-based training options in veterinary technology, please check out the online vet tech schools page.
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 May2017) projected that opportunities nationwide for vet techs will increase 20 percent between 2016 and 2026. This figure is much higher than the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that period (7 percent). In SC, these prospects look similar. According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2018)—a data organization affiliated with the US Department of Labor—the veterinary technology profession is the sixth fastest growing job among people with associate degrees in SC, and between 2014 and 2024, CareerOneStop predicted a 20 percent increase in vet tech openings across the state.
Where Do Vet Techs in SC 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 Charleston Veterinary Referral Center, Southside Animal Hospital, Aiken Veterinary Clinic, Banfield Pet Hospital, Wateree Animal Hospital, Animal Eye Care of the Low Country, Midlands Veterinary Practice, Heritage Animal Hospital LLC, and VCA Animal Hospitals.
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 Salary Data
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 2018) found that SC ranked twenty-sixth with respect to affordability, boasting particular savings in transportation and 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 2017) reported an annual average salary of $34,710 among the 103,430 vet techs across the country. In more detailed terms, American vet techs had the following salary percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
When converted to hourly terms, vet techs across the country earned an average of $16.69/hr. and had these percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $11.00/hr.
- 25th percentile: $13.19/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $16.06/hr.
- 75th percentile: $19.17/hr.
- 90th percentile: $23.73/hr.
By comparison, the 1,790 vet techs working in SC had an annual average salary of $30,930 and these percentile ranges (BLS 2017):
- 10th percentile: $21,030
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,200
- 75th percentile: $36,570
- 90th percentile: $42,390
In hourly terms, the SC vet techs made an average of $14.87/hr. with these ranges:
- 10th percentile: $10.11/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.02/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.52/hr.
- 75th percentile: $17.58/hr.
- 90th percentile: $20.37/hr.
Not surprisingly, these figures also tended to vary my region of SC. In fact, the 290 vet techs in the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin area had an average annual salary of $37,140. Here’s an in-depth look at the number of vet techs working, the average annual salaries, and wage percentiles for vet techs in the eight BLS-designated regions of SC (BLS 2017):
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC (220 employed): $31,460 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $20,660
- 25th percentile: $25,060
- 50th percentile (median): $30,330
- 75th percentile: $36,800
- 90th percentile: $42,590
Charleston-North Charleston, SC (610 vet techs employed): $28,530 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $20,530
- 25th percentile: $22,840
- 50th percentile (median): $27,550
- 75th percentile: $34,010
- 90th percentile: $38,940
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC (720 vet techs employed): $31,700 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $24,010
- 25th percentile: $27,810
- 50th percentile (median): $32,310
- 75th percentile: $36,400
- 90th percentile: $38,870
Columbia, SC (unknown number employed): $33,760 avg.
- 10th percentile: $25,830
- 25th percentile: $28,080
- 50th percentile (median): $32,000
- 75th percentile: $37,300
- 90th percentile: $44,210
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC (290 employed): $37,140 avg.
- 10th percentile: $26,300
- 25th percentile: $31,260
- 50th percentile (median): $37,710
- 75th percentile: $45,250
- 90th percentile: $49,420
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC (90 employed): $30,640 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,020
- 25th percentile: $24,960
- 50th percentile (median): $31,840
- 75th percentile: $36,270
- 90th percentile: $38,950
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC (100 employed): $31,750 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,340
- 25th percentile: $25,500
- 50th percentile (median): $31,990
- 75th percentile: $36,890
- 90th percentile: $40,090
Spartanburg, SC (100 employed): $27,510 avg.
- 10th percentile: $17,790
- 25th percentile: $21,330
- 50th percentile (median): $26,850
- 75th percentile: $33,830
- 90th percentile: $38,470
|Veterinary Career||South Carolina Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
SC Vet Tech Licensing
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:
- Submit an application 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 Jurisprudence 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 31st 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 which 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 & communications effectiveness
- Quality of program facilities & equipment
- Clinical training opportunities
- Availability of libraries & other resources
- Admissions standards
- Faculty & staff quality
- Curriculum comprehensiveness
For a detailed look at each of these factors, please visit the accreditation standards on the CVTEA website.
|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||LVT||Yes||Yes||Candidates are required to complete the State Jurisprudence Examination.||South Carolina Association of Veterinary Technicians|