Veterinary Technician Salary – How Much Does a Vet Tech Make a Year?

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Like many professions, the average vet tech salary depends on many factors. The field of veterinary technology has a wide salary range depending on the region, your specific job experience, where you’re choosing to work, and how long you’ve been working in the field.

With such an array of income potential, as a prospective student or fresh graduate, you might wonder what you’re going to be making after investing in an education. A love of animals can’t pay the bills, after all, so it’s important to enter a career with animals that can let you live a financially stable life.

** Find a school near you and request your info packet to start your vet tech career today!

Here is a table of with the average salary across the nation for all the different jobs working with animals.

Occupation FieldJobsHourly Avg. PayAnnual Avg. Salary
Animal Scientists2350$34.90$72,590.00
Zoologists & Wildlife Biologists18970$30.40$63,230.00
Veterinarians62470$47.23$98,230.00
Veterinary Technologists & Technicians93300$15.56$32,350.00
Veterinary Assistants & Laboratory Animal Caretakers71060$12.20$25,370.00
Animal Control Workers13450$16.52$34,370.00
Animal Care & Service Workers172990$11.34$23,580.00
Animal Trainers11170$15.58$32,400.00
Nonfarm Animal Caretakers161820$11.04$22,970.00
Animal Breeders1110$20.90$43,470.00
Farmworkers Farm Ranch & Aquacultural Animals31540$12.10$25,160.00

*This table was populated May 2015 but was published by the BLS on May 2014.

Vet Tech Salary Factors

Working in an animal hospital ER can boost your income.

Working in an animal hospital ER can boost your income.

Where you work will have the biggest impact on how much you’ll end up making and the main factor the will determine the salary of a vet tech.

If you’ve been researching this as a career, you’re well aware of the fact that you aren’t relegated to working in a traditional veterinary clinic; you can expand your horizons and work in a large variety of settings.

There are large, multi-doctor specialty clinics that focus on things like:

  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • And Internal Medicine

There are laboratories that will eagerly hire veterinary technicians to run tests, examine samples sent in from clinics across the country, and even develop new testing protocols. Humane societies like to have a trained vet tech on staff to help with spays and neuters, treat sick/abused animals, and perform health exams on animals that are being put up for adoption. The government even employs vet techs for jobs with health departments examining zoonotic (transmittable from animals to humans) diseases.

Make Above Average Salaries

Working in a shelter can be very rewarding.

Working in a shelter can be very rewarding.

On average, you’ll make the most money being employed by teaching hospitals at universities, top vet tech schools and colleges. If you have a lot of experience and advanced certifications, you can expect to make over $20 an hour with great benefits. You’ll also make a fair amount of money being employed by larger clinics, particularly hospitals that are certified by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

These clinics have a much higher standard of routine care, surgery, drug handling, and client services than non-certified hospitals, so they tend to hire more highly trained staff to adhere to these strict regulations. Depending on the region, technicians working in AAHA certified clinics can expect to start at $14-15 an hour with a full benefits package.

Smaller day practice technicians will have their vet tech salary based on experience and/or education. New technicians with a degree might make as much as a more experienced technician without a degree, but that depends on the clinic itself. New technicians, even with a degree, start out between $11-13 an hour, but that could be more in areas with a higher cost of living, like California or the east coast. The salary at a humane society or animal shelter depends on that shelter’s funding. Larger shelters, like the ASPCA, will pay hourly wages around $14-17 an hour, while smaller rural shelters might pay barely above minimum wage.

Vet Tech Certifications

Get a dental certification for a more specialized career.

Get a dental certification for a more specialized career.

Increase your income by becoming a certified veterinary technician.

Besides your certification as a licensed vet tech, you can further your education by getting certified in a specific field. These are typically best suited for technicians who have a few years of experience under their belt and are looking to advance their career.

Vet Surgical Tech Certification

If you have a love of surgery and anesthesia, you can get an advanced certification as a veterinary surgical technician. As of 2011, the average salary for a surgical vet tech was around $39,000 a year. The Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians (AVST) is responsible for accrediting technicians and sets the requirements for a certification. You will have to have worked at least 6,000 hours (3 years) as a certified vet tech with at least 4500 hours of these taking place in surgery. After the application is put in with the AVST, you’ll have to create a case log with detailed case reports, attend continuing education classes (some of which are available from an online program), submit letters of recommendation, and fulfill a skill list. There’s then a national exam that you must take and pass.

Critical Care Certification

When you have a preference for an adrenaline rush, you should consider an Emergency & Critical Care certification. Average salaries are around $38,000 per year, and with more people accepting the necessity of emergency medicine for their animals, job prospects look excellent. To qualify, you must have worked as a credentialed technician for at least three years.

Before you’ve submitted your application to the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians (AVECCT), you must have attended at least 25 hours of continuing education in emergency medicine. You also you have to complete a log of a minimum of 50 critical care or emergency cases as part of your job responsibilities. Four of these have to be detailed and recorded to prove your current skills.

Vet Dental Tech Certification

Cat hearing check at a local clinic.

Cat hearing check at a local clinic.

If teeth are the name of your game, you can consider an advancement with the American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians (ASVDT). On top of the typical 6000 hours of work as a technician, 3000 of those hours must be specific to dentistry.

This can be difficult to obtain in a regular day practice and easier to do in a larger hospital with a bigger patient load. You’ll need to keep several case logs that focus on different aspects of dentistry.

In addition to the logs, you’ll have to write five case reports that are of high enough quality that they can be published as a peer review. The final examination, which can only be taken after all of these requirements are filled, is divided into three parts: a written portion, clinical methods, and a practical exam.

How much do Veterinary Technicians make?

Brief overview of regional average salary differences:

There are a handful of states that come out on top in regards to salaries.

These are the highest paying states:

  • Alaska comes out the highest with an annual veterinary technician salary of $40,970.
  • Massachusetts is close behind that at $40,120.
  • New York, Connecticut, and California are the next highest.

State By State Salary 2015

Below is a breakdown of each state’s average hourly & annual income by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the veterinary technologists occupation field. We added the US Census ranking data on cost of living so you could better compare how far your dollar will go in each state (if you were to relocate).

A good example of this would be if you were to work in Virginia, your salary of $37,160.00 would go much further than if you lived in California and made the same amount (CA has one of the highest cost of living in the nation).

StateJobsAvg. Hourly PayAvg. Annual SalaryCost of Living State Rank
Alabama840$13.82$28,740.0010
Alaska210$19.70$40,970.0047
Arizona2,320 $13.51$28,110.0028
Arkansas250$13.52$28,130.0012
California8,820 $17.89$37,220.0046
Colorado2,910 $14.84$30,880.0031
Connecticut1,410 $18.56$38,600.0050
Delaware350$16.02$33,330.0037
District of Columbia60$15.66$32,570.0049
Florida8,190 $14.46$30,080.0027
Georgia2,790 $13.44$27,950.0016
Hawaii370$15.16$31,520.0051
Idaho440$13.85$28,810.003
Illinois3,700 $15.41$32,050.0022
Indiana1,470 $14.14$29,400.004
Iowa790$14.77$30,720.0014
Kansas520$15.21$31,630.009
Kentucky1,330 $13.45$27,980.006
Louisiana1,320 $13.18$27,410.0020
Maine720$15.83$32,930.0038
Maryland2,250 $16.04$33,370.0040
Massachusetts2,610 $19.29$40,120.0043
Michigan2,830 $15.13$31,460.007
Minnesota2,270 $16.01$33,310.0032
Mississippi670$15.13$31,470.001
Missouri1,190 $15.71$32,670.0017
Montana450$13.66$28,410.0030
Nebraska610$13.81$28,720.008
Nevada640$17.00$35,360.0033
New Hampshire740$15.99$33,260.0039
New Jersey2,570 $16.51$34,340.0045
New Mexico410$15.34$31,910.0013
New York4,190 $19.11$39,740.0048
North Carolina3,070 $14.57$30,310.0023
North Dakota170$14.78$30,740.0029
Ohio3,410 $15.32$31,860.0019
Oklahoma1,060 $13.69$28,480.005
Oregon1,450 $15.95$33,180.0044
Pennsylvania4,210 $16.69$34,720.0034
Puerto Rico170$14.29$29,720.00
Rhode Island340$16.48$34,280.0042
South Carolina1,450 $13.79$28,690.0021
South Dakota300$15.13$31,460.0035
Tennessee1,580 $14.02$29,170.002
Texas8,870 $13.72$28,530.0015
Utah960$13.11$27,260.0011
Vermont400$15.95$33,180.0041
Virginia1,710 $17.87$37,160.0025
Washington1,680 $16.78$34,900.0036
West Virginia300$11.72$24,370.0024
Wisconsin1,880 $15.45$32,130.0026
Wyoming230$14.64$30,450.0018

*Data extracted on May 2015 and was released by the BLS on May 2014.

Benefits Packages

Wages aren’t the only important financial aspect of becoming a vet tech. Benefits are quite important, too, and a critical aspect to how beneficial a job is to your life. Most full-time technicians in a moderately sized clinic are given medical and dental benefits as part of their employment. Many clinics also offer great incentives on pet care.

Technicians gets vaccinations at cost (meaning what the clinic pays for the vaccines), discounted surgeries, and discounts on medications. Because continuing education is a requirement in maintaining your state and national accreditation, most hospitals offer reimbursement on continuing education classes.

Some will even assist you in furthering your career if you started as vet tech assistant. This includes paying for the course itself, but also giving you paid time off and even paying for your travel expenses if you go to larger conferences in other towns or states.

What this video for a day in a life of a vet tech experience working with a cow:

Becoming a veterinary technician has many personal rewards, but it isn’t out of line for you to worry about the financial gains you’ll hopefully make in your new career. As you’re looking for jobs, remember that your education entitles you to a job that’s not only emotionally fulfilling but also allows you financial stability. Make sure you’re weighing your options to find the job that’s best suited to your skills and your financial situation, too.