Private, public and non-profit employers across the United States are searching for qualified veterinary technicians to aid their practices. The demand has risen in recent years as veterinarians and researchers have been forced to assess, treat and monitor more animals in less time.
These stressed-out professionals need assistance, and they are willing to pay a lucrative vet tech salary to attract the best and brightest individuals. Even though few people become veterinary technicians to get rich, this career offers substantial rewards.
Vet Tech Jobs
The most basic factor impacting a vet tech salary is where the technician works. Skilled veterinary technicians have their choice of setting and, indirectly, compensation. Vet tech jobs are currently open at the following institutions:
- veterinarian offices
- animal hospitals
- boarding kennels
- pet rescue centers
- federal and state research facilities
- product test laboratories, including pharmaceutical manufacturers
People tend to earn the highest wages in metropolitan areas with a large number of pets and a limited number of experienced technicians. In addition, companies or government agencies dealing with animal research typically pay more than small veterinary clinics.
How Much Do Vet Techs Make?
Even within the same employer, vet tech salaries can vary. Veterinarians and scientists base compensation on education, skill levels, experience and tenure with the company. For example, technologists with four-year degrees are paid more than technicians with two-year degrees.
Virtually all states require certification or licensing, but certified vet techs generally earn more money than non-certified veterinary assistants. Someone who is familiar with the laboratory procedures and has performed a certain job before will likely be hired at a better wage than someone who is new to the workplace.
In the United States, half of all veterinary technicians make salaries greater than $29,700 per year. The top 10 percent of earners bring home $44,000 or more. At the same time, the lowest paid vet techs had earned less than $20,500 in 2010. The average salary is $31,035.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, vet techs working for universities tend to make the most money while techs assisting veterinarians make the least.
As of May 2010, the median annual wages had been $36,450 for staff at universities and professional schools, $36,200 for staff at scientific research facilities and $29,290 for staff working in veterinary services.
Half of employee wages had been higher and half at been lower than these amounts. Even though vet techs often work evenings, weekends and holidays, overtime pay had not been factored into these salary statistics.
Few people relocate to become a veterinary technician or technologist. Men and women who are lucky enough to live in the following states can take advantage of the highest average salaries in the nation:
- Connecticut: $36,685
- New York: $36,545
- Alaska: $35,815
- California: $35,305
- Massachusetts: $35,195
Despite the increased demand for qualified vet techs, the total number of positions is limited. Some states offer high wages but only a few job opportunities.
Direct pay is only one answer to the question, “how much do vet techs make?” Another component of total compensation is the benefits package. Many full-time veterinary technicians receive medical and dental insurance, continuing education reimbursement and discounted pet care.
They may also take advantage of life and disability insurance, 401(k) retirement plans or profit sharing and paid time off, including vacation days and sick leave. Many employers prorate benefits for part-time employees, although some companies do not offer any fringe benefits for individuals who work fewer than 40 hours per week.
Other indirect benefits include networking opportunities, first-hand learning experiences, on-the-job training and advancement potential. Although these perks are not mentioned in the veterinary technician job description, they can still have a dramatic impact on the decision to work for one employer versus another. They can enhance a tech’s job satisfaction now and in the future.
One of the most common reasons for becoming a veterinary tech is the love of animals. Anyone looking at the rewards of the job should keep in mind the effect on sick and injured dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, sheep and more.
The complete picture of a vet tech salary includes not only the wages and financial benefits but also the intrinsic rewards of helping an animal that cannot help itself.
Also check out our complete vet tech salary guide for more extensive salary information.