Utah is well-known around the world for its spectacular natural beauty. From Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion and Moab, it is a destination for both U.S. and international hikers, campers, and wilderness photographers. As a state that values its wilderness and its people, Utah of course also values its animals, making it an attractive choice for aspiring veterinary technicians. It is interesting to note that unlike many states, Utah does not use its state authority to regulate veterinary technicians. This means that technically, it is possible to start work as a vet tech right out of high school, with no formal training. However, this is not necessarily the ideal course of action for someone who wants to find a good job and have a future in the career. For serious vet techs, it is a good idea to start with formal education and training before jumping into a clinical setting. Students should look for programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the accrediting body of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Luckily, there is one CVTEA-accredited program and several online programs available to residents of the Beehive State who want to pursue this rewarding career.
During the course of their education, or when looking for initial employment opportunities, vet techs in Utah may want to avail themselves of the Utah Society of Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (USVTA). Through an active Facebook page, this group allows vet techs and students in Utah to connect to other professionals and to find jobs through networking and job postings. The Utah Veterinary Medicine Association (UVMA) may also be able to assist. Read on for information about vet tech programs in Utah, employment and salary statistics, and how to become a vet tech in Utah.
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Utah
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Broadview University-West Jordan||1902 W 7800 S, West Jordan, Utah, 84088||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Utah
The state of Utah has one American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program in operation with an on-campus option. However, students do have the option of choosing an online program if they prefer.
Broadview University – West Jordan is the only CVTEA-accredited, on-campus program currently operating in Utah. Although the Orem location of the university used to also offer an accredited program, that campus has since closed. Broadview – West Jordan offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. The program takes 18 months to complete and encompasses 94 credit hours with a combination of 30 general education credits and 64 vet tech course credits.
The program provides training in all of the fundamentals and basic vet tech information that are critical for aspiring veterinary technicians to learn. The programs covers such subjects as:
- Animal anatomy
- Small animal emergency care
- Medical terminology
- Physiology of animals
- Surgical assisting
Students gain hands-on experience caring for various animals through labs, and complete a veterinary externship and a career capstone course. The school’s accreditation status also means that graduates should be prepared to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) when they finish, and the program includes a VTNE review course with mock exams. The VTNE first-time pass rate for West Jordan graduates was 61% from 2014 to 2017.
Students may want to consider CVTEA-accredited distance learning programs as well, particularly if the West Jordan school is not convenient for them. Many online programs, such as that offered by Penn Foster College, offer programs that give students the training for the field through distance learning. The online program can even help to pair students with local clinics to receive hands-on training. Penn Foster College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology with courses such as clinical parasitology for vet techs; anesthesia; surgical nursing; clinical pathology; radiography; and more. The VTNE pass rate for Penn Foster’s online program was 63.3% from 2014 to 2017.
Another such program is that offered by San Juan College of New Mexico, which provides a Veterinary Technology Distance Learning Program (VTDLP). This associate of applied science (AAS) degree program requires 4-6 hours of study per week and includes courses such as vet anesthesia and surgical assisting; veterinary business procedures; small animal disease and medical care; vet diagnostic imaging; vet clinical pathology; and vet nursing care. In addition to online classes, students must enroll in Off-Campus Clinical Instruction (OCCI) sessions to complete required hands-on training. The 3-year first time pass rate for the VTNE of San Juan graduates was 88.1 percent between 2015 and 2018.
For more information on distance-based learning options, please visit our online vet tech programs page.
How to Become a Vet Tech in Utah
Not every veterinary technician follows the same path to the career, but there are some prerequisites to finding employment in the field. The following are the most common steps that new vet techs take on their way to their first job.
- Step 1: Graduate High School
Duration: 4 years
According to CareerOneStop, an employment statistics site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, just 1.8% of veterinary technicians in the U.S. have less than a high school education, which means it is virtually required. Current high school students who are working towards a career as a vet tech should be sure to focus on classes like biology and chemistry to have the best chance of succeeding at the next level. High school students may also find it useful and inspirational to volunteer at a local animal shelter or veterinary office.
- Step 2: Complete Accredited Vet Tech Program
Duration: 2 to 4 years
Because vet techs in Utah are not required to be licensed, there is no strict requirement that they attend a vet tech program. However, it will be much easier to find employment for those who can point to thorough training in the basics of the job, which means applying for and attending a vet tech program. Most programs last just 2 years and culminate in an Associate’s Degree. While accreditation is also not required, those programs that have earned programmatic accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (AVMA), will be able to offer the best educational opportunities.
- Step 3: Take VTNE
In states where licensure is offered, the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is a prerequisite. In Utah, this test is optional, but does serve to demonstrate the commitment and knowledge of the new vet tech who is able to prepare for and pass the exam.
Strong Demand for Vet Techs in Utah
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Utah currently employs 1,000 veterinary technicians (BLS, 2017). Vet techs in Utah work in private veterinary practice clinics and surgical centers, animal shelters, and educational facilities. In the U.S., the overall demand for vet techs is expected to grow by 20% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average of all occupations. In Utah, however, growth is expected to be much higher. In fact, the demand for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow by a whopping 79% between 2014 and 2024 and is currently the fastest growing occupation in Utah among all occupations (CareerOneStop). Let’s look at salary statistics nationally and in Utah to see what vet techs should expect.
In the U.S. as a whole, vet tech salaries are as follows (BLS, May 2017): $34,710 average annual salary
- 10th percentile: $22,880
- 25th percentile: $27,430
- 50th percentile (median): $33,400
- 75th percentile: $39,860
- 90th percentile: $49,350
In hourly terms, national BLS vet tech wages equated to: ($16.69/hr. avg.)
- 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.
Averaging salaries across the state, median pay for vet techs is a bit lower than it is for all states in the U.S. This is something to keep in mind when considering vet tech positions in Utah, which is 23rd in affordability according to The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC, 2018), boasting particular savings in housing and utilities compared with the rest of the states. Here are the Utah salaries as a state (BLS 2017): ($29,620 avg.)
- 10th percentile: $20,650
- 25th percentile: $24,530
- 50th percentile: $28,920
- 75th percentile: $34,530
- 90th percentile: $39,100
In hourly terms, Utah BLS vet tech wages equated to: ($14.24/hr. average)
- 10th percentile: $9.93/hr.
- 25th percentile: $11.71/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $13.90/hr.
- 75th percentile: $16.60/hr.
- 90th percentile: $18.80/hr.
As with any occupation, the distinct region or city in Utah where one seeks employment can have an impact on job availability as well as salary.
Following is a regional breakdown of where the most vet techs in Utah are employed (BLS 2017):
- Salt Lake City: 540
- Ogden-Clearfield: 180
- Provo-Orem: 120
- St. George: 30
Here is a breakdown of median annual salaries around Utah:
- Ogden-Clearfield: $29,710
- St. George: $28,840
- Provo-Orem: $29,360
- Salt Lake City: $29,460
Professional networking and development is important for veterinary technicians who are just starting out. Groups such as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) and local organizations like the aforementioned USVTA offer the opportunity for techs to meet other veterinary professionals, learn about continuing education training and establish a sense of community within the profession.
|Veterinary Career||Utah Jobs||Salary Data (BLS, 2017)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Accreditation and Certification in Utah for Vet Techs
Currently, there is no licensing or regulation of vet techs in Utah. Those who are in the state do not have to have any license if they want to work as a veterinary technician. This means that even those who do not have training could become a vet tech theoretically. However, most of the animal clinics, hospitals, and other facilities throughout the state want to make sure they are hiring the best quality techs for the job. They may hire those who prove themselves through training and education and who take and pass the VTNE. Just because it is not necessary to have training in Utah does not mean you should forego it.
Take the time to look for a qualified two-year school that offers the proper training, and that has AVMA accreditation. This accreditation ensures you can sit for the national exam when the time comes. Although there is no regulatory board in Utah, it is still important to have training. You can use your transcripts and test score to help land a job in one of the clinics or animal hospitals in the state. Consider the prospect of hiring from the point of view of the clinic. If two candidates come into the clinic to apply for the same job, chances are they will hire the person who has the schooling and training simply because it can mean less training on the job.
|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||N/A||N/A||N/A||Utah does not require its veterinary technicians to be licensed.||Utah Veterinary Practice Act Law|