Vet Tech Programs in Tennessee

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Dog flu has been a veterinary healthcare struggle in Tennessee for a long time. In 2007, Tennessee was one of only two states in the U.S. with reported H3N8 dog flu outbreaks. Over 12 years, one or both strains of the dog flu (H3N8 and H3N2) have hit the state of Tennessee, and every other state in the U.S. except North Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska, and Hawaii. The highly contagious flu infects 80 to 90 percent of exposed dogs, kills 8 percent of those infected, and causes severe symptoms in 20 percent of those infected.

For animal-lovers interested in being a part of the solution to dog flu—and for those interested in a rapidly growing career with a relatively quick entry-level education—attending one of the quality veterinary technician schools in Tennessee (TN) can be a rewarding choice.

In Tennessee, vet techs must be licensed before seeking employment and this state has more rigorous restrictions on the scope of practice in this profession than in other areas. As proof of point, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a table detailing how the scope of practice of vet techs varies by state. While many common surgical, diagnostic, and dental procedures must be completed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, vet techs in Tennessee can float animals’ teeth (i.e., file or contour them) without oversight.

Additionally, managing veterinarians in this state are held legally responsible for the conduct of their employees—including vet techs—and therefore, they seek to hire the most qualified, dependable, and skilled individuals for the role.

So how does a person become a veterinary technician in Tennessee? Here is one possible path to joining this career:

  • Graduate from high school, completing coursework in biology, chemistry, and algebra (in addition to volunteering in animal care hospitals or centers if possible).
  • Complete a two- to four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
  • Apply for licensure through the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

The Tennessee Veterinary Technicians Association (TVTA) offers continuing education (CE) conferences, quarterly newsletters, scholarships, and local legislation memos to members. Adding to the TVTA’s description of responsibilities for veterinary technicians, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides an extensive checklist of necessary skills, including instruction in animal restraint, anesthesia, operating room duties and sterilization, pharmaceuticals, necropsy, diagnostic imaging, and clinical pathology.

Generally, these animal healthcare professionals are tasked with providing emergency care or first aid to animals; restraining veterinary patients; collecting case histories; and assisting veterinarians with common surgical, dental, and diagnostic imagery procedures.

In addition to the generalist veterinary technicians in Tennessee, there is a wealth of specialties in this field, such as avian, large animal, small animal, equine, marine, dental, nutritional, psychological, radiological, anesthesiological, zoological, dermatological, and other types of veterinary technicians.

Read on to learn more about the career outlook for vet techs in Tennessee and what to know about CVTEA-accredited programs and professional certification.

Map of AVMA Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Tennessee

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Austin Peay State University 601 College Street, Clarksville, Tennessee, 37044NoYes
Chattanooga State Community College 4501 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37406-1097NoYes
Columbia State Community College 1665 Hampshire Pike, HEAL 105 Columbia, Tennessee, 38401NoYes
Lincoln Memorial University Cumberland Gap Pkwy. LMU Box 1659, Harrogate, Tennessee, 37752NoYes
University of Tennessee at Martin 554 University Street, Martin, Tennessee, 38238NoYes
Volunteer State Community College 1480 Nashville Pike Warf Building Room 100A, Gallatin, Tennessee, 37066NoYes

Career Outlook for Vet Techs in Tennessee

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) predicts that job openings will increase 20 percent nationally between 2021 and 2031, much faster than the growth rate expected for all professions during that time period (5 percent). According to Projections Central (2022), the outlook for vet techs in Tennessee is even brighter. With an anticipated growth rate of 29.8 percent between 2020 and 2030, vet techs in Tennessee may have more opportunities than the national average.

Veterinary technicians in Tennessee are employed in various facilities such as veterinary hospitals, private veterinary clinics, kennels, pharmaceutical companies, laboratory research facilities, zoos, wildlife preserves, aquariums, government agencies, non-profit organizations, universities, farms, pet sanctuaries, and more. Due to the nature of animal healthcare jobs, some veterinary technicians have to work evenings, weekends, and holidays to monitor the condition of their furry, feathered, and scaly patients.

While many choose traditional roles in animal healthcare, others work in areas including food safety, disease control, and biomedical research. The Tennessee Veterinary Technicians Association (TVTA) maintains an active list of jobs in this field with openings at facilities such as Southern Care Veterinary Hospital, Village Veterinary Medical Center, Oakdale Animal Hospital, Germantown-Farmington Animal Hospital, and Barfield Animal Hospital.

In addition to traditional job-hunting websites—Monster, CareerBuilder, and Glassdoor—the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) also maintains an active database of local openings in this field.

Salary Information for Vet Techs in Tennessee

According to the BLS (May 2021), 118,670 vet techs across the United States earned an average annual salary of $38,250. The following table demonstrates what the 1,830 vet techs employed in TN earned based on comparison to the national average at various earnings percentiles:

United States Tennessee
Number of vet techs employed 118,670 1,830
Average annual salary $38,250 $33,700
10th percentile $28,370 $23,450
25th percentile $29,810 $29,030
50th percentile (median) $36,850 $30,600
75th percentile $45,750 $37,350
90th percentile $48,100 $45,850

The substantially lower than average salaries are a reflection of the reality that the cost of living in Tennessee is substantially lower than in most other regions in the United States. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2022) found that TN was the eighth most affordable region in the United States, with below-average costs for groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare. Despite the below-average salaries, the dollar stretches further in TN than in many other places in the United States.

VETERINARY CAREER TENNESSEE JOBS SALARY DATA (BLS May 2021)
LOW SALARY (10TH %ILE) MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE) HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)
VET TECH 1,830 $23,450 $30,600 $45,850
VET ASSISTANT 2,970 $22,100 $29,160 $36,820

AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Tennessee

In the state of Tennessee, there are six campus-based programs accredited through the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the predominant accrediting body for vet tech programs in the country. For more information on accreditation, please reference the section below.

Typical requirements to gain admittance to a two- to four-year vet tech program include sending one’s official high school transcripts; completing specific coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, algebra, English); submitting test scores from the SAT, ACT, or TOEFL (for non-native speakers of English only); passing a background check; showing proof of immunizations and health insurance; and paying an application fee. Some competitive programs—particularly at the bachelor’s level—also call for observation hours or voluntary service in a veterinary setting.

Austin Peay State University

Austin Peay State University (APSU) offers a 120-credit CVTEA-accredited bachelor of science program in agriculture with a concentration in veterinary technology. The program provides students with rigorous training and prepares them for employment in veterinary technology. Along with a foundation in veterinary technology, this program will also provide students with knowledge in agricultural, biological, and chemical sciences, preparing them for success in the veterinary technology certification process. Graduates will be prepared to take veterinary technology certification exams.

In addition to general education requirements, students in this program learn courses such as animal health & disease; principles of macroeconomics; animal science; companion animal management; genetics of crops & livestock; veterinary terminology; animal nutrition; reproduction in farm animals; veterinary technology surgical nursing & pharmacology; and veterinary clinical experience.

In addition to coursework, APSU offers engagement in agriculture through their pre-vet club, beef cattle show team, agricultural honor societies, agricultural fraternities, and professional development organizations. Earning its initial accreditation in 2019, APSU posted its first report on June 30, 2021, with a first-time pass rate of 100 percent.

  • Location: Clarksville, TN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($284 per credit); out-of-state ($515 per credit)

Chattanooga State Community College

Chattanooga State Community College offers a CVTEA-accredited associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. This full-time five-semester program encompasses both general education requirements and specific veterinary technology skills.

With courses such as clinical pathology; anesthesia and surgical nursing; pharmacology and pharmaceutical calculations; medical terminology; animal nursing; animal anatomy and physiology; topics in veterinary technology, and general educational requirements, this 66-credit program encourages students to apply what they learn in supervised internships across local veterinary clinics, hospitals, and farms.

Between 2019 and 2022, an impressive 84 percent of Chattanooga’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) on their first attempt.

  • Location: Chattanooga, TN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($190.40 per credit); out-of-state ($724.40 per credit)

Columbia State Community College

Columbia State Community College provides a fully accredited, 21-month AAS program in veterinary technology featuring courses in pharmacology; microbiology; animal anatomy; veterinary medical & surgical nursing; veterinary patient care & management; livestock management; and veterinary diagnostic procedures. The average cohort sizes at Columbia are 30 people, and the college reports that every graduate of the program goes on to find employment in the field. The program consists of a total of 73 credits.

Students gain hands-on experience in the Middle Tennessee vet facilities during the final three semesters of the five-semester program. Columbia reported a 70 percent first-time VTNE pass rate between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: Columbia, TN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($171 per credit); out-of-state ($705 per credit)

Lincoln Memorial University

Lincoln Memorial University of Harrogate has two CVTEA-accredited programs: a two- or three-year associate of science (AS) and a four-year bachelor of science (BS), both in veterinary medical technology.

The AS program has a 72-credit two-year plan and a 75- to 78-credit three-year plan. It includes courses such as animal husbandry/nutrition; laboratory & zoo animals; pharmacology & anesthesia; surgical nursing & anesthesia; animal diseases & zoonoses; dental procedures & techniques; and diagnostic procedures, as well as several lab sections to apply didactic lessons. Applying to the program requires students to complete 20 observation hours in a veterinary facility, and two confidential evaluation forms that speak to the student’s character and work ethic. Between 2018 and 2021, Lincoln Memorial reported a 60 percent first-time pass rate among its graduates on the VTNE.

The 125-credit BS program—open to those with relevant associate degrees who already passed the VTNE—goes more in-depth with coursework in wildlife diseases; livestock health & management; equine health & management; advanced anesthesia; zoonotic disease; and animal nutrition. Scholarships from NAVTA, TVTA, and the Knoxville Veterinary Medical Association are available for qualified students.

  • Location: Harrogate, TN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AS (24 to 36 months); BS (48 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,030 per credit

The University of Tennesee Martin

The University of Tennesee Martin offers a vet tech program where the veterinary health technology option is a part of the animal science concentration of a bachelor of science in agriculture. In addition to general education requirements, students enrolled in the 122-credit UT Martin program will take coursework in animals, exotics, and pocket pets; companion animal management; and the behavior of farm and companion animals, among other courses.

Eighty percent of UT Martin VTNE test-takers passed on the first try between 2019 and 2022. Notably, all students in this veterinary technology concentration will participate in a high-quality internship in their specific area of interest.

  • Location: Martin, TN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($413 per credit); out-of-state ($665 per credit)

Vol State Community College

Vol State Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. The program at Vol State prepares vet techs for careers in agricultural businesses, veterinary practices, research facilities, wildlife rehabilitation, and more. Made up of 70 credits, the program includes courses such as large animal medical nursing; veterinary anesthesia and surgery; veterinary clinical pathology; small animal medical nursing; microbiology for vet tech; veterinary imaging; pharmacology and therapeutics; laboratory animal care; and applied veterinary anatomy and physiology.

In this competitive program of only 24 students per year, potential students must complete 20 hours of observation before applying. Vol State’s first-time VTNE pass rate between 2018 and 2021 was 63.6 percent.

  • Location: Gallatin, TN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($215 per credit); out-of-state ($749 per credit)

Online AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs

For some students with familial, professional, or distance-based limitations that make attending an on-campus program difficult, there are some online veterinary technician schools available. These programs typically involve web-based classes and clinical work to be completed at approved preceptor sites located close to a student’s home. In addition to the six CVTEA-accredited, on-campus programs in TN, there were ten approved online vet tech programs across the US as of November 2022.

Colby Community College

For instance, Colby Community College based in Kansas provides an online associate degree in veterinary nursing with classes such as math for veterinary nurses, medical records and veterinary office skills; basic nutrition of domestic animals; principles of anesthesiology and radiology; veterinary clinical pathology; animal facility management; large animal nursing; and veterinary nursing microbiology, among others.

Students in this online program gain hands-on experience by working with animals such as cats, dogs, cattle, horses, sheep/goats, rodents, birds, and rabbits in veterinary hospitals. Students will not be required to attend campus for any reason. However, on-campus weekend mentorships are offered during the spring and fall semesters for the laboratory animal/ exotic pet mentorship, microbiology mentorship, and large animal mentorship courses for students who do not have those species in their area.

The first-time VTNE pass rate for graduates of Colby Community College’s distance-learning veterinary nursing program between 2019 and 2022 was 82.35 percent.

  • Location: Colby, KS
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: Thomas county resident ($139.75 per credit); Kansas resident ($144.75 per credit); out-of-state ($198.75 per credit)

Purdue University

The Purdue University of Indiana offers a CVTEA-accredited, distance-based associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary nursing. In a heady combination of 18 targeted clinical mentorships and 27 didactic courses such as large animal nursing and health management; parasitology for veterinary technicians; microbiology for veterinary technicians; small animal nursing for veterinary technicians; pharmacy procedures; dentistry for veterinary technicians; anesthesia for veterinary technicians; management topics for vet techs; and nutrition for veterinary technicians, this rigorous program is one of the more competitive online options.

Between 2019 and 2022, 92.1 percent of online graduates from Purdue passed the VTNE on their first attempt.

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Three to six years
  • Estimated Tuition: $270 per credit

For more information on distance-based programs, please visit the online veterinary technician programs page.

Licensing for Vet Techs in Tennessee

As mentioned above, the state of Tennessee requires vet techs to be licensed prior to employment. The Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is the main professional credentialing agency for these animal healthcare specialists in the state and calls for the following:

  • Passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
  • A notarized application
  • An application fee
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • Proof of US or Canadian citizenship (e.g., birth certificate copy)
  • Official transcripts from a CVTEA-accredited veterinary technology program
  • Criminal background check

Additionally, this credential must be maintained annually following the completion of 12 hours of continuing education (CE). A maximum of four of these hours can be “multi-media courses” (i.e., completed online).

Vet Tech Program Accreditation

To qualify for professional licensure, certification, or registration in most states—including TN—an aspiring vet tech must typically complete a two- to four-year program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program approval body established by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The CVTEA—a programmatic accreditation body—weighs several factors in its program evaluation process, such as institutional accreditation, comprehensiveness of curricula, student outcomes, quality of facilities and equipment, availability of student support services, and program finances.

Jocelyn Blore (Chief Content Strategist)

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as an English teacher and freelance writer. After stints in England, Japan, and Brazil, she settled in San Francisco and worked as a managing editor for a tech company. When not writing about veterinary technology, nursing, engineering, and other career fields, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor.