Vet Tech Schools in Virginia

1
2

From the heart of the Chesapeake Bay and along the Appalachian Mountains, the Old Dominion State boasts a wide range of plant and animal life. For those interested in taking care of furry, feathered, or scaly-skinned patients, there are several veterinary clinics, farms, laboratories, zoological parks, and universities to name a few of the organizations that employ veterinary technicians in Virginia.

Vet techs in Virginia must have direct supervision from licensed veterinarians while they provide surgical assistance and float horse teeth. They must also have direct supervision while they administer anesthesia, euthanasia, or vaccines; undertake dental procedures; give blood transfusions; do basic first aid; or perform catheterizations.

Virginia vet techs can also perform duties under indirect supervision, such as giving parenteral fluid; collecting urine or blood samples; preparing tissue samples; performing diagnostic imaging; doing laboratory tests; and handling hazardous wastes. Finally, under emergency scenarios where licensed vets may not be available, veterinary technicians may perform several duties with a phone or indirect supervision such as applying temporary splints, bandages, or tourniquets; and resuscitating animal patients.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), there are currently 2,180 of these animal healthcare professionals employed in the state. Not only do these people earn more than national averages for this occupation (see “job outlook” below), but the number of openings is expected to explode in coming years.

CareerOneStop—a data organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor—estimates that positions for veterinary technologists and technicians will increase 34 percent in Virginia between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the 15 percent growth expected nationally for this field (2020-2030).

So how does one join this dynamic, high-growth, and rewarding field? Read on below to learn how to become a veterinary technician in Virginia, as well as the job outlook, accredited vet tech colleges in the state, and professional licensure information.

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Blue Ridge Community College 1 College Lane, Weyers Cave, Virginia, 24486-0080YesYes
Northern Virginia Community College-Loudoun 21200 Campus Drive, Sterling, Virginia, 20164-8699YesYes
Tidewater Community College 121 College Place, Norfolk, Virginia, 23510NoYes

Strong Job Outlook for Vet Techs in Virginia

Without a doubt, Virginia 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 VA, these prospects look even more bright. According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2022), the occupational increase for vet tech openings in Virginia is predicted to be 34 percent between 2018 and 2028.

Projections Central (2022) also offers data on the future of vet techs in VA. It found that openings for veterinary technicians and technologists are expected to increase at a higher rate (34.2 percent) than what’s anticipated nationally.

Where Do Vet Techs in Virginia Work?

Virginia’s vet techs are employed in several facilities such as specialty animal clinics, kennels, veterinary hospitals, farms, public policy groups, research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, labs, universities, zoos, food inspection groups, aquariums, and state and federal regulatory agencies. Some VA veterinary technicians work regular business hours whereas others may be called to work weekends, holidays, or evenings to monitor the health of their animal patients.

There is further evidence that the employment climate is thriving for veterinary technologists and technicians in VA. In fact, common job posting sites are filled with opportunities. For example, Indeed (March 2022) posted job opportunities with employers such as Blue Ridge Animal Hospital, Banfield Pet Hospital, the City of Virginia Beach, and Fairfax County Government. Monster (March 2022) has postings at varied locations as well such as Virginia Commonwealth University, Cherrydale Veterinary Clinic, Hollin Hall Animal Hospital, and Valley veterinary emergency and referral center. In sum, there are ample opportunities in this field across the state.

Additionally, some vet techs in VA 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.

Virginia Vet Tech Salaries

While the veterinary technician salaries in Virginia are higher than national averages, the cost of living in the state is also higher than almost half of the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2022) found that VA ranked twenty-seventh concerning affordability.

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—the latest data available as of early March 2022. In more detailed terms, American vet techs had the following salary percentiles:

United States Virginia
Number of veterinary technicians Employed 109,490 2,180
Annual mean wage $37,860 $45,050
10th percentile $25,520 $32,660
25th percentile $30,030 $37,830
50th percentile (median) $36,260 $44,740
75th percentile $43,890 $50,980
90th percentile $52,410 $61,740


It’s important to note that these figures also varied based on the source of data. By illustration, Indeed (March 2022) found an average annual salary of $35,637 among Virginia veterinary technicians, while Payscale (March 2022), found the following percentiles nationally:

  • 10th percentile: $28,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,447
  • 90th percentile: $54,000

How to Become a Vet Tech in Virginia

To practice as a veterinary technician in Virginia, one must be a licensed professional. While it’s possible to qualify for a reciprocal license if one is certified to practice veterinary technology in another state, here is the typical path to becoming a vet tech in Virginia:

  • Graduate from high school (four years). In addition to having a love of animals, successful veterinary technicians generally have strong grades in natural sciences classes such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy (if offered), and may even garner extra experience (and letters of recommendation) volunteering through local animal hospitals, clinics, and shelters.
  • Complete an associate or bachelor’s degree program accredited by the American Medical Veterinary Association (two to four years). Most states require that veterinary technicians graduate from an AVMA-accredited program before practice. There are currently over 220 approved associate and bachelor’s programs across the country, including three in Virginia, two of which offer convenient distance learning options to their students as well. These programs teach the fundamentals of assisting veterinary care such as small animal medicine, administering anesthesia, animal dentistry, and other skills.
  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This exam, offered during three-month-long windows annually, gauges the knowledge of aspiring veterinary technicians in nine primary domains of expertise. These areas include pharmacology, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory procedures.
  • Get licensed by the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine. All practicing vet techs in Virginia are required to be licensed. This process involves filling out an application, sending one’s transcripts as proof of having graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, and sending one’s VTNE test scores.
  • Renew license (annually). In Virginia, veterinary technicians are expected to complete six hours of continued education (CE) as well as a yearly renewal application.

For working vet techs in Virginia, it’s crucial to have the support of a professional network and the empathy of a group that understands the difficulties of the job. The Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians (VALVT) provides a job board, conferences, social events, legal briefs on the profession, and a list of resources to its members.

Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Virginia (VA)

To become a licensed vet tech in Virginia, one must have graduated from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). There are over 220 qualified schools nationwide with associate’s and bachelor’s programs in veterinary technology, including three schools in Virginia:

Blue Ridge Community College

Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) in Weyers Cave—a charming area northwest of Charlottesville— offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. BRCC boasts both on-campus learnings as well as a distance education option.

Made up of 72 credits, both programs include courses such as anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; laboratory techniques; clinical practices; applied veterinary surgical nursing; animal diseases and microbiology; and more. Facilities on campus include two labs, a surgery, radiology suite, a treatment area, and small and large animal facilities.

The on-campus program takes five semesters or two years to complete, one of those being a summer semester. Students complete an externship during the summer between the first and second year which includes 350 hours of veterinary hospital work.

The Blue Ridge Community College distance education option is for Virginia residents only or those who are engaged in a preceptorship in the state of VA, therefore it is not listed on the CVTEA-accredited distance-based learning programs page.

Students must work a minimum of 20 hours in a veterinary hospital preceptorship during the entire three-year program. In addition, campus visits include at least three, all-day labs that typically take place on Fridays. Online courses are delivered twice a week for a total of about six hours per week.

Students in the online program must have a web camera-equipped computer with high-speed internet access where they intend to be during scheduled class times, as a live connection is mandatory. For its on-campus graduates, BRCC had an outstanding 90.3 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2018 and 2021. For its web-based students during the same period, the rate was a perfect 100 percent.

  • Location: Weyers Cave, VA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: On-campus (24 months); online (36 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Virginia residents ($154 per credit); out-of-state ($330.60 per credit)

Northern Virginia Community College-Loudoun

Northern Virginia Community College-Loudoun (NOVA) in the Potomac Falls area also offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology. With convenient on-campus and distance-based learning formats, courses at NOVA include animal breeds and behavior; anesthesia of domestic animals; animal dentistry; clinical pathology; and more. Students complete the program with a vet tech preceptorship. Students must complete a total of 68 credits.

The on-campus program is full-time and takes two years to complete. It begins in the fall and covers five semesters consecutively including a summer semester. The online program is part-time takes three years to complete, and is AVMA-accredited just like the on-campus program. Again, for the online program here, students must make a minimum of two to three visits to the Loudoun Campus per semester. In addition, online students must work at least 20 hours per week in a veterinary practice, supervised by a licensed veterinarian, for the entire three-year program.

For its on-campus program graduates, the first-time passing rate on the VTNE was 76.99 percent between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: Annandale, VA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: On-campus (24 months); online (36 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Virginia residents ($180.40 per credit); out-of-state ($359.65 per credit)

Tidewater Community College

Tidewater Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology at their Virginia Beach campus that is designed for professionals who are already veterinary assistants working a minimum of 20 hours per week. Courses in this 63-credit six-semester program meet twice per week. Students must participate in all-day labs three to four days per semester for study and testing.

Coursework in the program includes animal breeds and behavior; anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; introduction to laboratory, zoo, and wildlife medicine; and animal pharmacology. Students will also be expected to complete 13 credits of general education courses before being admitted to the vet tech program. Tidewater is still in its initial accreditation phase at the time of this writing, which means that VTNE first-time pass rates are not currently available.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, VA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: Virginia residents ($156 per credit); out-of-state ($332.60 per credit)

Students who want to become Vet Techs in Virginia and want to look outside the online options listed above can consider other online vet tech program options.

Program Accreditation and Licensure for Vet Techs in Virginia (VA)

Prospective vet techs in Virginia are encouraged to seek out programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the premier accrediting organization for veterinary technology programs in the U.S. This agency weighs factors such as comprehensiveness of curricula, facility quality, program resources, staff support, and student outcomes to ensure that students are receiving training worthy of practice in this sensitive profession.

Finally, to practice as a vet tech in VA, one must be licensed by the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine. First-time applicants for licensure are required to do the following:

  • Complete an application (including a notarized statement of understanding the laws governing practice in the state of Virginia)
  • Pay an application fee
  • Send official transcripts from an AVMA-accredited program
  • Send official test scores from the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)

Please note that these professional licenses must be renewed annually following the completion of six hours of continued education (CE).

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.