The Texas motto is “Friendship” and it turns out that humans aren’t the only gregarious companions in the Lone Star State. In fact, Texas offers an abundance of animals—particularly in its thriving cattle businesses and ranches—which has created an astounding demand for veterinary technicians within the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), Texas employs 10,570 vet techs, more than any other state in the country. It’s also home to three of the top ten municipal regions for vet tech job openings–the greater Dallas, Houston and Austin areas. Finally, Texas provides 11 vet tech programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), including the convenient web-based program through Cedar Valley College.
For current and aspiring residents of Texas who are interested in a career in animal healthcare, the future looks bright. By illustration, CareerOneStop—a data organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor—predicts that openings for vet techs in Texas will swell 31 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average growth predicted for all occupations during that time (7 percent).
Read on to discover how to become a veterinary technician in Texas, as well as information about the employment outlook, accredited vet tech programs, and professional licensure in the state.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Texas
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Austin Community College||5930 Middle Fiskville Rd., Elgin, Texas, 78752||No||Yes|
|Blinn College||902 College Ave., Bryan, Texas, 77833||No||Yes|
|Cedar Valley College||3030 North Dallas Ave, Lancaster, Texas, 75134-3799||Yes||Yes|
|Lone Star College||5000 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas, 77381-4399||No||Yes|
|McClennan Community College||1400 College Drive, Waco, Texas, 76708||No||Yes|
|Palo Alto College||1400 W Villaret Blvd, San Antonio, Texas, 78224-2499||No||Yes|
|Pima Medical Institute-Houston||10201 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas, 77024||No||Yes|
|Texas A&M University-Kingsville||700 University Blvd., Kingsville, Texas, 78363||No||Yes|
|The Vet Tech Institute of Houston||4669 Southwest Fwy Ste 100, Houston, Texas, 77027||Yes||Yes|
|Vista College||6101 Montana Ave., Lubbock, Texas, 79925||No||Yes|
11 Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Texas
In order to become a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) in Texas, it is imperative to graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are currently 11 of these programs, one school offering both online as well as on-campus programs. As mentioned above, while licensure is not essential for practice as a veterinary technician in this state, it may be advisable since it can enhance one’s job prospects after graduation. Note that all accredited programs require hands-on training through labs and externships or preceptorships in order to demonstrate learned skills.
Here is a synopsis of the AVMA-accredited vet tech programs in Texas:
The Vet Tech Institute of Houston provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree program in veterinary technology. Students take courses such as animal behavior, veterinary radiology, and veterinary pharmacology in order to garner the essential job skills recommended by AVMA’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The 3-year, first-time pass rate on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) was 66.81 percent between 2015 and 2018.
Cedar Valley College in Lancaster offers two vet tech associate degree programs: a traditional on-campus option and a distance education veterinary technology program (DEVTP). The latter web-based program is open to students employed at least 10 hours per week in an approved facility such as a veterinary clinic. Between 2014 and 2017, 72 percent of the distance-based students passed the VTNE on the first try, compared to 76 percent of the campus-based graduates. Finally, Cedar Valley also offers certificate opportunities to enhance specialized skills such as small animal assisting and large animal assisting.
McLennan Community College in Waco provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology which typically takes six semesters to complete. This 72 credit hour program is designed to prepare students for the Texas LVT process, and features courses such as veterinary anatomy, clinical pathology, and parasitology. McLennan graduates had a first-time VTNE pass rate of 55% between 2014 and 2017.
Austin Community College offers a CVTEA-accredited program in Elgin, TX. Courses include canine and feline clinical management; veterinary radiology; veterinary office management; large animal assisting techniques; anesthesia and surgical assistance; and more. This program earned accreditation in 2016 so there are currently no 3-year VTNE pass rate statistics available.
Palo Alto College lies in the heart of one of the top-employing regions for vet techs: San Antonio. This AAS vet tech program combines rigorous hands-on experience in its state-of-the-art 15,000 square-foot facility. Palo Alto hosts a broad-based curriculum with unique classes such as veterinary nutrition, canine and feline clinical management, and exotic animal clinical management. Finally, this school boasted an impressive 93 percent first time passing rate on the VTNE among its graduates between 2014 and 2017.
Blinn College in Bryan, TX, offers a two-year AAS degree program beginning each fall only with a competitive admissions process. This program is offered in collaboration with Texas A&M University which is where students receive much of their schooling the second year. Courses include veterinary jurisprudence and ethics; pharmacological calculations, veterinary nutrition; anesthesia and surgical assistance; and more. Blinn College graduates had high 89.7 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2015 and 2018.
Lone Star College–Tomball also offers a veterinary technology AAS degree that lasts 2 years. Courses include veterinary medical terminology; exotic animal clinical management; food animal clinical management; veterinary pharmacology; veterinary radiology; and more. Credits earned in the veterinary assistant certificate program can be applied to the AAS degree. Lone Star graduates have an above average first-time pass rate on the VTNE of 77% (2015-2018).
Another option exists through Texas A&M University in Kingsville. What sets this program apart is the emphasis on wildlife, large animals, and lab animals. The program offered is a 4-year BS degree in veterinary technology, and only 30 students are admitted each year. The institution boasts a 10,000 sq. ft. teaching facility with animal housing areas, classrooms, lab spaces, surgical rooms, radiology room, and more. There is also a university farm, on-campus vivarium, and wildlife center for where students gain hands-on practice with animals. In addition to general education courses, students take courses such as vet diagnostic imaging; vet nursing technology; vet disease management; advanced nursing techniques; and vet clinical pathology. The school also offers membership in a veterinary technologists club.
Pima Medical Institute-Houston offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology that takes 18 months to complete. Courses include food and fiber animal; diagnostic imaging for vet techs; laboratory animal science; dentistry techniques; surgical nursing for vet techs; and more. The first-time pass rate for Pima graduates on the VTNE was 81.25% at the Houston location (2015-2018).
Tyler Junior College also offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology that takes 2 years to complete. Courses are similar to other programs and include veterinary anatomy and physiology; radiology; clinical pathology; veterinary office management; lab animal clinical management; large animal assisting techniques; and more for a total of 60 credits. Tyler Junior College received accreditation in March of 2018, therefore there are no VTNE pass rate statistics available at this time.
How to Become a Vet Tech in Texas
According to the Texas Board of Veterinary Examiners, licensure is not required to practice as a veterinary technician in the state, but it is an option available to those joining the profession. As of September 1, 2014, only those who have successfully completed the licensed veterinary technician (LVT) admissions process can refer to themselves as LVTs. It may be advisable to seek licensure for several reasons. First, veterinary medical boards in some states offer a reciprocal licensure, certification, or registration process in case a person relocates to another region of the country. Only licensed candidates who have passed the national Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) can qualify. Also, employers typically prefer candidates who have the highest credentials and proven competencies for a position. Becoming an LVT can be an indicator of one’s professional achievement. Finally, being an LVT may even qualify a candidate for higher pay than unlicensed professionals in this field.
Here is one possible path to becoming a licensed vet tech in TX:
- Graduate from high school. In order to gain admittance to a competitive vet tech program, students generally must have high grades in subjects such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy (if available) in order to thrive in this scientific occupation. It may be wise to seek out volunteer opportunities at animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and other environments to prepare for this line of work.
- Graduate from a vet tech program in Texas accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This process normally takes from two to four years depending on a student’s educational goals. Some students choose to enroll in a two-year associate degree program featuring coursework in veterinary nursing care, animal radiology, and surgical assisting techniques, to name a few. Other students choose to pursue a lengthier, more in-depth bachelor’s degree program which may be recommended for people interested in taking on more specialized work, responsibilities, and leadership opportunities.
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This exam tests students’ knowledge across 11 domains such as pharmacy & pharmacology, dentistry, and diagnostic imaging. This test is a prerequisite to becoming an LVT in Texas.
- Apply for licensure through the Texas Board of Veterinary Examiners and pass the the Texas state exam: the Licensed Technician Veterinary Examination (LVTE). In order to qualify to licensure as an LVT in Texas, a person must submit an application, proof of graduation from an AVMA-accredited vet tech program and pass two exams: the VTNE (first) and Texas’s special state exam, the LVTE.
- Renew license annually. This process involves the completion of 10 hours of continued education (CE).
Strong Job Outlook for Aspiring Vet Techs in Texas
As mentioned above, Texas offers an outstanding employment climate for current and aspiring veterinary technicians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reports that there are 10,570 vet techs working in the state, and this number is expected to swell 31 percent in Texas between 2014 and 2024 (CareerOneStop).
Let’s look at vet tech salaries nationwide and in Texas as a whole, as well as in various regions of Texas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2017) reported that there were 103,430 vet techs employed in the US with an annual average salary of $34,710 and the following wage percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
Comparably, Texas vet techs average annual salary was lower at $30,820, and percentiles look like this (BLS 2017):
- 10th percentile: $20,830
- 25th percentile: $25,240
- 50th percentile (median): $29,670
- 75th percentile: $36,020
- 90th percentile: $43,610
It is important to look at the cost of living when comparing vet tech salaries. Texas is one of the least expensive states in which to live falling at number 10 in the nation, with particular savings in groceries, housing and transportation (MERIC 2018).
There are also variations in salary according to region, some of which pay more than the state average of $30,820. Here is a list of some of the highest paying regions of Texas listed with their average annual salaries (BLS 2017). As you can see the highest paying region was the Coastal Plains Region of Texas at $41,060.
- Coastal Plains Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area: $41,060
- Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division: $36,580
- College Station-Bryan, TX: $33,680
- West Texas Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area: $31,320
- San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX: $32,230
- Brownsville-Harlingen, TX: $34,550
- Longview, TX: $31,130
- McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX: $31,630
So which areas in Texas employ the most veterinary technicians? The regions surrounding major cities tend to have the highest employment for this profession. Here is a list of the top-employing sections of TX (BLS 2017):
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: 1,860
- Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division: 1,880
- Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division: 1,020
- San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX: 1,380
- Austin-Round Rock, TX – 1,390
Not only does Texas boast a strong employment outlook for vet techs, but it also is home to a number of professional associations and networking opportunities. A popular agency in Texas for the advancement and education of vet techs is the Texas Association of Registered Veterinary Technicians (TAVRT). It offers a job openings board, continued education (CE) opportunities, and ways to connect with fellow veterinary workers across Texas. Additional resources and career-related support can be found at the Southwest Veterinary Symposium held every September in Texas. This annual conference provides CE, product exhibitions, and networking opportunities for industry professionals.
Vet techs in Texas are employed in a wide array of working environments including veterinary clinics, hospitals, laboratories, ranches, farms, amusement parks, zoos, animal shelters, or rescue facilities.
|Veterinary Career||Texas Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Program Accreditation and Licensing for Vet Techs in Texas
In order to qualify for licensure as a vet tech in Texas, it’s essential to graduate from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). As mentioned above, while licensure isn’t currently necessary to practice this profession in TX, it may be advisable to enhance one’s candidacy for jobs and opportunities for reciprocal licensure, certification, or registration in other states.
There are currently 11 AVMA-approved programs in Texas. These schools have met the accreditation standards of the AVMA which include an inspection of program facilities, as well as an examination of program curricula, college finance management, and student outcomes, among other measures.
Finally, in order to become a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) in Texas, a candidate must fulfill several prerequisites:
- Submit an application
- Send official transcripts from an AVMA-accredited program
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and send official scores
- Pass the state-specific Licensed Veterinary Technician Examination (LTVE) provided by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
These licenses are valid for one year and must be renewed annually following the completion of 10 hours of continued education (CE).
|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||LVT||Yes||Yes||Texas candidates are required to take the Licensed Veterinary Techncian Examination (LVTE) and submit a copy of their birth certificate.||Texas Association of Registered Veterinary Technicians|