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, 24486-0080||Yes||Yes|
|Northern Virginia Community College-Loudoun||21200 Campus Drive, Sterling, Virginia, 20164-8699||Yes||Yes|
|Tidewater Community College||121 College Place, Norfolk, Virginia, 23510||No||Yes|
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:
|Number of veterinary technicians Employed||109,490||2,180|
|Annual mean wage||$37,860||$45,050|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$44,740|
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 (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 (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 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).
Virginia Tech’s Veterinary Program: A Closer Look
Virginia Tech, officially known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is a well-regarded institution in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded in 1872, it has since become a renowned hub for higher education. The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, or VMCVM, is an integral part of Virginia Tech and serves as the sole veterinary college in the state.
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which is a crucial factor to consider when evaluating the quality of a veterinary program. Accreditation ensures that the program meets the highest standards of education and training in the field of veterinary medicine.
What Sets Virginia Tech Apart?
- Strong Curriculum: The curriculum at Virginia Tech’s veterinary program is designed to provide students with a well-rounded education in veterinary medicine. Students are exposed to a diverse range of subjects, including small animal, large animal, and exotic animal medicine. This diversity prepares graduates for a wide array of career paths within the field.
- Research Opportunities: Virginia Tech is a leading research university, and the veterinary program reflects this commitment to research. Students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research, which not only enhances their knowledge but also contributes to the advancement of veterinary science.
- Clinical Experience: The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine offers a robust clinical training program. Students have access to a teaching hospital where they gain practical experience working with animals under the guidance of experienced faculty members. This hands-on experience is invaluable for students.
- Community Engagement: The college emphasizes community engagement, providing students with opportunities to serve local communities through outreach programs. This not only allows students to apply their skills but also fosters a sense of responsibility and compassion in future veterinarians.
- State-of-the-Art Facilities: The college is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including diagnostic and treatment centers, laboratories, and animal care units. These facilities ensure that students have access to the best resources for their education.
Notable Achievements and Awards
To gauge the quality of a veterinary program, it’s essential to consider the achievements and awards it has received. Virginia Tech’s veterinary program has garnered recognition for its excellence. Some notable achievements and awards include:
- Outstanding Faculty: The college boasts a faculty of accomplished veterinarians and researchers. Several faculty members have received awards for their contributions to the field of veterinary medicine.
- High AVMA Certification Rates: The college consistently achieves high certification rates in the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), which is a testament to the effectiveness of its educational programs.
- Research Grants: The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine has secured numerous research grants, highlighting its commitment to advancing veterinary science.
- Veterinary Outreach Programs: The college’s veterinary outreach programs have been recognized for their positive impact on local communities.
Virginia Colleges with Pre-Vet Programs
While Virginia Tech’s veterinary program is a strong choice for those seeking a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, many students begin their journey by pursuing pre-veterinary programs at various colleges and universities in Virginia. Pre-veterinary programs are designed to provide students with a solid foundation in the biological and physical sciences, which are essential prerequisites for admission to a veterinary program. Some notable Virginia colleges with pre-vet programs include:
- University of Virginia: The University of Virginia offers a pre-veterinary track within its College of Arts and Sciences. This program equips students with the necessary prerequisites for veterinary school.
- Virginia Commonwealth University: VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences offers a pre-veterinary program that focuses on biology and other relevant disciplines. It is an excellent choice for students interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.
- James Madison University: JMU provides a pre-veterinary medicine program that includes courses in biology, chemistry, and animal science. The program prepares students for the competitive admissions process of veterinary schools.
- George Mason University: Located in Northern Virginia, George Mason University offers a pre-veterinary program that emphasizes biology, chemistry, and animal science courses. Students benefit from the proximity to many research and internship opportunities in the D.C. area.
Vet Tech Schools in Virginia
In addition to pre-veterinary programs and DVM programs, there is another essential component in the veterinary field: veterinary technicians or vet techs. Vet techs play a crucial role in veterinary practice, as they assist veterinarians in various tasks, including animal care, surgery, and laboratory work. Virginia offers several vet tech schools for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a veterinary technician:
- Blue Ridge Community College: Located in Weyers Cave, Virginia, Blue Ridge Community College offers an accredited Veterinary Technology program. The program provides students with hands-on experience and comprehensive training in veterinary care.
- Northern Virginia Community College: NOVA’s Vet Tech program, offered at the Loudoun Campus, is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It includes both classroom instruction and practical experience in veterinary clinics.
- Tidewater Community College: TCC’s Veterinary Technology program in Virginia Beach prepares students for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) and provides essential skills for a career as a vet tech.
- Piedmont Virginia Community College: PVCC, located in Charlottesville, offers a Veterinary Technology program that combines classroom instruction with clinical experience. Graduates are prepared for the VTNE and can work in various veterinary settings.
Comparing Virginia’s Veterinary Programs and Vet Tech Schools
When evaluating Virginia’s veterinary programs and vet tech schools, it’s important to consider your career goals, interests, and educational needs. Here are some factors to consider when making a decision:
- Program Accreditation: Ensure that the program you choose is accredited by the relevant accrediting bodies. This accreditation is crucial for licensure and certification in the field.
- Curriculum: Evaluate the curriculum to see if it aligns with your interests and career goals. Veterinary programs should provide a diverse and comprehensive education, while vet tech programs should offer relevant coursework and clinical experience.
- Faculty and Facilities: Look into the qualifications and expertise of the faculty, as well as the available facilities and resources for hands-on training.
- Experiential Learning: Consider the extent of experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and clinical rotations, offered by the program.
- Cost and Location: Take into account the program’s cost, location, and any financial aid opportunities available to you.
- Success Rates: Research the program’s success rates, including NAVLE pass rates for veterinary programs and VTNE pass rates for vet tech programs.
- Career Support: Investigate the career support services provided by the institution, such as job placement assistance and alumni networks.
In conclusion, Virginia Tech’s veterinary program, housed within the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, is a strong contender for students aspiring to become veterinarians. Its accreditation, comprehensive curriculum, research opportunities, and state-of-the-art facilities make it a prominent choice. Moreover, Virginia offers excellent pre-veterinary programs at various colleges and universities, ensuring that students can build a strong foundation before pursuing a DVM degree.
For those interested in veterinary technology, vet tech schools in Virginia provide the necessary training to become veterinary technicians. These programs are essential for individuals who wish to play a vital role in the healthcare of animals under the guidance of licensed veterinarians.