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. The state 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 WI, however, there is a wealth of employment and networking opportunities in America’s Dairyland. In fact, the Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association (WVTA 2016) has a job post board, as well as a quarterly e-journal, 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 imparted through a two- to four-year degree in veterinary technology, and there are currently nine accredited programs in WI. Additionally, the scope of practice for vet techs also tends to vary by region. In WI, vet techs 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’s (AVMA 2016) 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).
Map of Vet Tech Schools in Wisconsin
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Gateway Technical College||400 County Road H, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, 53121||No||Yes|
|Madison College||1701 Wright St, Madison, Wisconsin, 53704-2599||No||Yes|
|Milwaukee Career College||3077 N Mayfair Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53222||No||Yes|
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 (2014)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—the field of veterinary technology is the third fastest growing profession in WI among people with associate degrees. In fact, this data organization predicted a 29 percent explosion in job openings between 2012 and 2022. Adding to this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) provides recent data on the expected job growth in this field, projecting a 19 percent increase in openings for vet techs nationwide between 2014 and 2024, nearly three times the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that time period (7 percent).
Vet Tech Salary in WI
Interestingly, vet techs in WI make slightly lower salaries compared to national averages across the profession. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) found an average annual salary of $33,280 among the 95,790 vet techs employed nationwide. In WI, this figure was $32,220. 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 2015) reported that WI ranks twenty-fourth in affordability with modest savings in housing compared to the rest of the country.
So in more granular terms, how much do vet techs make around the country and in Wisconsin? The BLS (May 2015) found the following salary percentiles among vet techs nationwide:
- 10th percentile: $21,890
- 25th percentile: $26,350
- 50th percentile (median): $31,800
- 75th percentile: $38,480
- 90th percentile: $47,410
For comparative purposes, Payscale (2016)—a website which aggregates self-reported salaries in common professions—found that its 327 responding vet techs in the US had similar salary ranges:
- 10th percentile: $21,000
- 25th percentile: $25,000
- 50th percentile (median): $30,914
- 75th percentile: $40,000
- 90th percentile: $49,000
In WI, these figures were slightly lower for its 1,950 working vet techs (BLS May 2015):
- 10th percentile: $21,970
- 25th percentile: $25,890
- 50th percentile (median): $30,900
- 75th percentile: $37,870
- 90th percentile: $45,610
In hourly terms, these WI figures equated to a mean wage of $15.49/hour and the following percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $10.56/hr.
- 25th percentile: $12.45/hr.
- 50th percentile (median): $14.86/hr.
- 75th percentile: $18.21/hr.
- 90th percentile: $21.93/hr.
The salaries for vet techs also tended to vary by region within WI with the Milwaukee area boasting the highest regional salaries. Here is a detailed look at the employment figures, salary averages, and wage percentiles among the vet techs in the 14 BLS-designated areas of WI (BLS 2015):
Appleton, WI (unknown number of vet techs employed): $30,750 annual average salary
- 10th percentile: $21,570
- 25th percentile: $23,590
- 50th percentile (median): $28,230
- 75th percentile: $35,490
- 90th percentile: $45,940
Eau Claire, WI (40 employed): $27,110 avg.
- 10th percentile: $20,530
- 25th percentile: $22,350
- 50th percentile (median): $25,580
- 75th percentile: $30,020
- 90th percentile: $36,110
Green Bay, WI (unknown number employed): $31,730 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,020
- 25th percentile: $26,690
- 50th percentile (median): $31,490
- 75th percentile: $36,910
- 90th percentile: $42,080
Janesville-Beloit, WI (30 employed): $28,970 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,860
- 25th percentile: $25,100
- 50th percentile (median): $28,820
- 75th percentile: $33,510
- 90th percentile: $37,180
La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN (40 employed): $28,990 avg.
- 10th percentile: $23,570
- 25th percentile: $25,860
- 50th percentile (median): $28,370
- 75th percentile: $30,940
- 90th percentile: $36,760
Madison, WI (470 employed): $32,510 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,230
- 25th percentile: $23,310
- 50th percentile (median): $31,070
- 75th percentile: $38,710
- 90th percentile: $48,740
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI (390 employed): $36,620 avg.
- 10th percentile: $26,620
- 25th percentile: $30,490
- 50th percentile (median): $36,980
- 75th percentile: $43,860
- 90th percentile: $48,010
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI (50 employed): $32,200 avg.
- 10th percentile: $21,130
- 25th percentile: $27,540
- 50th percentile (median): $32,970
- 75th percentile: $37,320
- 90th percentile: $42,330
Racine, WI (50 employed): $29,590 avg.
- 10th percentile: $20,220
- 25th percentile: $23,190
- 50th percentile (median): $28,410
- 75th percentile: $35,840
- 90th percentile: $42,670
Sheboygan, WI (30 employed): $31,300 avg.
- 10th percentile: $25,150
- 25th percentile: $27,640
- 50th percentile (median): $31,790
- 75th percentile: $35,850
- 90th percentile: $38,290
Wausau, WI (60 employed): $27,500 avg.
- 10th percentile: $16,570
- 25th percentile: $17,890
- 50th percentile (median): $25,580
- 75th percentile: $36,520
- 90th percentile: $45,930
Northeastern Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (130 employed): $29,680 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,070
- 25th percentile: $25,380
- 50th percentile (median): $28,820
- 75th percentile: $33,480
- 90th percentile: $38,900
South Central Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (250 employed): $31,460 avg.
- 10th percentile: $25,470
- 25th percentile: $27,200
- 50th percentile (median): $30,070
- 75th percentile: $35,150
- 90th percentile: $39,640
Western Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (130 employed): $30,320 avg.
- 10th percentile: $22,030
- 25th percentile: $25,060
- 50th percentile (median): $29,370
- 75th percentile: $35,450
- 90th percentile: $39,250
Where Are Vet Techs in WI 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 (2016) maintains current job postings at places such as the Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center, Vein Clinics of America, Inc., the Wisconsin Humane Society, and Oak Creek Veterinary Care. Also, the Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association (WVTA) has a job board with career opportunities at facilities including Tillie Lake Veterinary Clinic, Pulaski Veterinary Clinic, the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, the Compassionate Care Animal Clinic, Little Animal Hospital, Prairie Valley Associates, North Heights Veterinary Clinic, Globe University (Madison East), and Turtle Valley Equine Hospital.
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, 2015)|
|Low Salary (10th %ile)||Average Salary (Median)||High Salary (90th %ile)|
Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Wisconsin
For aspiring veterinary technicians in WI, there are currently nine programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). For more information on the accreditation process, please visit the last section of this article.
In order to gain entry into one of the WI programs, typical application requirements include sending one’s official high school transcripts with proof of specific coursework (e.g., English, algebra, biology, chemistry, etc.); writing a personal statement; submitting test scores such as the TOEFL (for non-native speakers of English); showing proof of health insurance or vaccinations; and paying an application fee. For some of the more competitive programs, a candidate interview, letters of recommendation, or other requirements may also be part of the admissions process.
Interestingly, seven of the nine CVTEA-accredited programs in WI comprise various branches of Globe University, a school which offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology in Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, East Madison, Middleton (i.e., West Madison), and Wausau. All of Globe University’s campuses have small class sizes, competitive tuition rates, state-of-the-art equipment, and advanced clinical training. Some of the classes available through these schools include hematology, anatomy & physiology, small animal surgeries, pharmacology, and large animals. One measure of a vet tech program’s effectiveness is its three-year, first-time pass rate among graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the national exam in the field and a requirement to become credentialed in most states. Although these pass rates differed across the campuses, two standout options in WI were Middleton and Eau Claire, which reported success rates of 76 and 81 percent (respectively) among program graduates between 2012 and 2015. Another CVTEA-accredited AAS vet tech program is available at the Truax campus of Madison College. This school imparts the fundamentals of the discipline including animal husbandry, nutrition, laboratory analyses, anesthetic administration, and other skills. Classes at Madison include introductory zoology, lab animal science, veterinary medical terminology, animal care & management, life science chemistry, animal disease, and surgical nursing. Impressively, between 2012 and 2015, 93.4 percent of Madison’s graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Finally, Milwaukee Career College also provides an associate degree in veterinary technology with advanced training in observing animal behavior, giving x-rays, collecting patient histories, and other cornerstones of veterinary technology.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs
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 nine 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 generally takes four to five years to complete. Comprising 35 web-based courses and 17 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 & 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 2012 and 2015 was an astounding 94 percent. For online students, this figure dropped to 79 percent. Another popular online vet tech program is available at Penn Foster, which has classes such as veterinary office management, medical nursing for vet techs, medical mathematics, pharmacology, clinical parasitology, and anesthesia. Between 2011 and 2014, 75.5 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.
Certification for Vet Techs in WI
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 which 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:
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|