Wisconsin—otherwise known as the “Badger State”—is replete with wildlife. The state boasts not only badgers, but also bobcats, river otters, beavers, elk, coyotes, white-tailed deer, flying squirrels, timberwolves, porcupines, and red foxes, to name a few. WI also has an abundance of animal welfare organizations, professional veterinary societies, and pet care-taking enterprises.
By Illustration, Wisconsin Pet Care LLC offers an array of services including pet sitting, dog walking, canine and feline massage, and animal training. While there are several vet techs on-site to assist with care-taking, competition for these openings is stiff as this Milwaukee area business hires only one person per 145 resumes submitted!
Luckily for animal-lovers in Wisconsin, however, there is a wealth of employment and networking opportunities in America’s Dairyland. In fact, the Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association (WVTA) has a job post board, animal protection advocacy at all levels of government, and discounted continuing education (CE) opportunities. This non-profit strives to ensure that all members abide by the oft-cited “Veterinary Technician Oath” and provides a rigorous code of ethics encouraging vet techs to provide excellent care, relieve animal suffering, inform the public, assume accountability, protect confidential information, commit to continued learning, and collaborate with other veterinary professionals.
In addition to upholding these ideals, what exactly does a vet tech in WI do? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides a comprehensive list of desired skills in the vet tech profession. Their responsibilities include managing veterinary health records; restraining animal patients during routine exams and vaccinations; helping licensed vets with common procedures (e.g., surgical, dental, diagnostic imaging, etc.); maintaining clinic inventories; sterilizing rooms and equipment; giving first aid to animals; examining laboratory samples (e.g., urine, blood, etc.); educating pet-owners about all aspects of animal care; and keeping abreast of developments in the field of veterinary care, typically through continued education.
For most vet techs in the state, these skills are gained through a degree in veterinary technology, and there are currently three accredited programs in Wisconsin. Additionally, veterinary technicians in Wisconsin must be certified by the Veterinary Examining Board (VEB), a branch of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) chart of regional restrictions, Wisconsin vet techs may legally perform nonsurgical procedures such as administering vaccines, collecting specimens, performing diagnostic imaging (e.g., radiography), providing nutritional counseling to pet-owners, giving anesthesia, and conducting dental extractions under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. For a detailed examination of WI’s scope of practice laws, please visit the AVMA website.
Read on to discover the promising career outlook for vet techs in WI, as well as to explore accredited vet tech programs and how to become a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Wisconsin.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Gateway Technical College||400 County Road H, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, 53121||No||Yes|
|Madison College (formerly Madison Area Technical College)||1701 Wright St, Madison, Wisconsin, 53704-2599||No||Yes|
|Milwaukee Career College||3077 N Mayfair Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53222||No||Yes|
Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Wisconsin
For aspiring veterinary technicians in WI, there are currently three programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). For more information on the accreditation process, please visit the last section of this article.
One CVTEA-accredited AAS vet tech program is available at the Truax campus of Madison College (formerly Madison Area Technical College). This school imparts the fundamentals of the discipline including animal husbandry, nutrition, laboratory analyses, anesthetic administration, and other skills.
Courses at Madison College include lab animal science; veterinary medical terminology; animal care and management; animal disease, pharmacology; veterinary clinical pathology; diagnostic imaging; and surgical nursing. Students enrolled in the program have the option to complete the program completely on-campus, or as a hybrid learning format offering a combination of in-person and online courses.
Impressively, between 2016 and 2019, 90 percent of Madison’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) on their first attempt.
Milwaukee Career College provides an accredited associate degree in veterinary technology geared toward veterinary assistants who wish to evolve into the next phase of their careers. The program at MCC provides advanced training in observing animal behavior, giving x-rays, collecting patient histories, and other cornerstones of veterinary technology.
Courses include food and fiber; diagnostic imaging for veterinary technicians; lab animal science and exotic medicine; nursing for veterinary technicians; emergency procedures; equine medicine; and more. The program also includes a 12-week externship at a veterinary practice. Milwaukee Career College graduates had a 37.8 percent first-time pass rate on the VTNE between 2016 and 2019.
Finally, Gateway Technical College offers a high-demand veterinary technician program that only accepts applicants from June 15th through July 31st each year. This AS program includes courses such as veterinary business practices; microbiology; surgical procedures for vet sciences; lab animals and non-traditional pets; clinical skills for veterinary science; clinical pathology; and more.
Students also complete labs and an internship for a total of 66 credits. The program is offered at the Elkhorn Campus. Despite earning accreditation in 2017, no VTNE pass scores are available at this time.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs for Wisconsin Residents
For some prospective vet techs in WI, attending an on-campus program can prove difficult due to familial, professional, and other types of obligations. Fortunately, there are also several distance-based vet tech programs accredited by the CVTEA. These programs typically involve a combination of online didactic coursework and the completion of clinical practicums at local sites approved by the institutions.
Among these distance-based programs is the part-time, 70-credit program at the prestigious Purdue University, which now can be completed in as little as three years. Comprising 27 web-based courses and 18 supervised mentorships, Purdue’s online AAS program thoroughly prepares students for a career in veterinary technology.
Classes include anatomy for veterinary technicians; small animal nursing and health management; diagnostic imaging; sterilization procedures; clinical pathology; and parasitology. Mentorships to be completed at local sites include units in equine nursing, large animal medical nursing, anesthesia (small and large animals), diagnostic imaging (small and large animals), and necropsy. For the on-campus graduates in veterinary technology, the first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2016 and 2019 was 92 percent. For online students, this figure was also quite high at 90 percent.
Another popular online vet tech program is available at Penn Foster College, which has classes such as veterinary office management; medical nursing for vet techs; medical mathematics; pharmacology; clinical parasitology; and anesthesia. Between 2016 and 2019, 67 percent of Penn Foster’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.
For more information about distance-based programs, visit the main online veterinary technician programs page.
Outlook for Vet Tech Jobs in Wisconsin
In America’s Dairyland, the future looks very bright for veterinary technicians. According to the most recent data from CareerOneStop (2020)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—the field of veterinary technology is the fastest growing profession in WI among people with associate degrees. In fact, this data organization predicted a 34 percent explosion in job openings between 2016 and 2026.
Adding to this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) provides more recent countrywide data on the expected job growth in this field, projecting a 19 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2018 and 2028, nearly four times the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that time period (5 percent).
Vet Tech Salary in Wisconsin
Vet techs in WI make slightly lower salaries compared to national averages across the profession. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) found an average annual salary of $36,670 among the 110,650 vet techs employed nationwide. For the 2,400 vet techs employed in WI, this figure was $34,730. It’s important to note that the cost of living in Wisconsin is also lower than many other states across the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that WI ranks twenty-fourth in affordability, with particular savings in housing compared to the rest of the country.
In more granular terms, how much do vet techs make around the country and in Wisconsin? The BLS (May 2019) found the following salary percentiles among vet techs nationwide:
- 10th percentile: $24,530
- 25th percentile: $29,080
- 50th percentile (median): $35,320
- 75th percentile: $42,540
- 90th percentile: $51,230
Here are the BLS (May 2019) figures for vet tech salaries in Wisconsin, by percentile:
- 10th percentile: $26,120
- 25th percentile: $30,140
- 50th percentile (median): $34,780
- 75th percentile: $38,850
- 90th percentile: $45,180
Where Are Wisconsin Vet Techs Employed?
In Wisconsin and beyond, veterinary technicians typically work not only in veterinary clinics and hospitals, but also in zoos, kennels, animal rescue centers, shelters, adoption non-profit organizations, farms, laboratories, biomedical (or pharmaceutical) research facilities, aquariums, and universities.
In addition to popular job search websites such as LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed, iHireVeterinary maintains current job postings at places such as the Land OLakes, Inc., Ethos Veterinary Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Banfield Pet Hospital, VCA Animal Hospitals, TMG, and Mission Veterinary Partners.
Also, the Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association (WVTA) has a job board with career opportunities that may include facilities such as Lakeshore Veterinary Specialists, VCA-Veterinary Emergency Service & Veterinary Specialty Center, Poynette Veterinary Care, Token Creek Veterinary Clinic, Birch Bark Veterinary Care, and the Veterinary Village of Lomira.
Finally, for vet techs in WI looking to enhance their job candidacy, resume, or salary prospects, one option is to pursue a specialization and become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). There is an abundance of subfields distinguished by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) such as dermatology, critical care, zoological medicine, equine nursing, anesthesia & analgesia, radiology, dentistry, and other niche areas. For a detailed look at how to get educated and become a VTS in these and other specializations, please check out the vet tech career page.
|VETERINARY CAREER||WISCONSIN JOBS||SALARY DATA (BLS, 2019)|
|LOW SALARY (10TH %ILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)|
Certification for Vet Techs in Wisconsin
Starting January 1, 2016, the duties of the Veterinary Examining Board (VEB) were folded into the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), which is now the main body that certifies veterinary technicians in WI. To practice as a certified vet tech (CVT) in the state, professional credentialing is necessary. There are currently three ways to become certified in WI:
- Graduate from a two- to four-year program in veterinary technology approved by the VEB; for this option, programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) typically qualify
- Work for at least two years under a veterinarian, spending a minimum of 50 percent of one’s time garnering practical field experience
- Obtain credentialing in another state and submit a letter of verification
For each category of applications, DATCP requires a notarized application, proof of VEB-approved education (or a letter from one’s employer), VTNE score results, Wisconsin Statutes & Rules exam results, and an application fee (veterans exempted). Also, if there have been any malpractice suits, applicants are required to divulge this in their applications.
The WI vet tech certification is valid for two years and must be renewed following the completion of 15 hours of continuing education (CE). Please note that the first renewal period does not require formal CE documentation.
Please visit the Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association (WVTA) website for a detailed examination of qualifying CE courses. Online opportunities to complete CE are available at:
- University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
As mentioned in the overview of approved colleges around WI, aspiring vet techs are encouraged to seek out programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Not only is graduating from a CVTEA-accredited program a basic requirement to become a credentialed vet tech in most states, but the formal program approval also can serve as a proxy for the quality of training to expect. The CVTEA weighs many variables in its program accreditation process including:
- Institutional accreditation (see discussion of the Higher Learning Commission below)
- Organization & communications networks
- Program finances
- Quality of facilities & equipment
- Clinical training resource availability
- Libraries & other student resources
- Admissions processes
- Student outcomes assessment
- Faculty & staff
For a detailed look at each of these, please check out the CVTEA accreditation criteria page.
Finally, in addition to programmatic accreditation (i.e., CVTEA), there is also institutional accreditation. There are currently six main regional organizations recognized by the US Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). For residents of Wisconsin, the main institutional accreditation body is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The criteria for institutional accreditation is similar to that of programmatic accreditation. To learn more about this accreditation process, please visit the HLC 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||CVT||No||Yes||Wisconsin requires an affidavit from a licensed veterinarian employer.||Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association|