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How much do vet techs make, anyway?

Written by Nicole Krempasky on Monday, 16 January 2023. Posted in Career

How much do vet techs make, anyway?

As an animal lover, you want to make a career from your passion: helping pets and their humans. Becoming a veterinary technician seems like the perfect career choice. As a vet tech, you’ll work with veterinarians to see sick or injured animals and often be responsible for collecting samples, performing medical tests, and prepping exam rooms. Depending on the veterinary practice or animal clinic you work for, those duties can vary. While those tasks sound like your dream job, as much as you love making a difference, salary matters, too. The median pay for a practicing vet tech in 2021 was $17.72 per hour or $36,850 per year. However, depending on the state you live in, your credentials, and your specific employer, potential entry-level pay can fluctuate. Here are some key factors that affect vet tech pay and responsibilities.

How much do veterinary technicians make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for veterinary technicians is projected to grow faster than average. The need for veterinary technicians is expected to increase by 20% over the next ten years. That means the demand for trained techs is high - making now the perfect time to train for a career in the field. With high demand comes the opportunity for competitive wages. Remember, the national average salary for veterinary technicians was $36,850 per year in 2021. Depending on your experience, location, and education, you can potentially earn more - for example, the highest paid vet techs in 2021 earned as much as $46,910 per year.

So how can you land the higher-paying vet tech jobs? It comes down to which industry you work in, as well as your geographic location.

Where do vet techs make the most?

Many people think of vet techs as the people who work at their local veterinarian’s office, but technicians actually work in a wide range of industries, from advocacy organizations to zoos. How much a vet tech makes can hinge on what industry they decide to work in.

The top-paying industry for vet techs is the Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing branch, with a yearly average wage of $64,720. The executive branch includes agencies like the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce, which may employ vet techs to work in animal inspection jobs, at fisheries, or in other interesting positions. Other top-paying industries for vet techs include:

  1. Museums and historical sites. While this may not seem like the first place you’d think to find a veterinary technician working, many museums and historical sites have wildlife or service animals which need tending. The yearly average salary in 2021 for vet techs working in these industries was $44,950.
  2. Colleges. Colleges of all kinds, including junior colleges, universities, and professional schools can employ trained veterinary technicians. At an annual mean salary of $40,480. These vet techs can often find themselves working with animals involved in research activities and the average annual salary in 2021 for these roles was $56,450.
  3. Social advocacy organizations. Social advocacy organizations can include shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and more. These vet techs may care for injured animals throughout a rehabilitation process or while in a shelter. The average annual pay for vet techs in these roles is $36,390.

Which states pay the highest vet tech salary?

In addition to the industry you choose to work in as a vet tech, your geographic location can affect your pay, too. Vet techs tend to earn the most in these states:

  1. Alaska
  2. Washington
  3. Nevada
  4. Connecticut

Where vet techs earn the most?

State Annual Mean Wage Annual Hourly Wage
Alaska $43,510 $20.92
District of Columbia $68,110 $32.75
Washington $47,550 $22.86
Nevada $44,180 $21.24
Connecticut $44,380 $21.34

How much do vet techs earn in each state?
Veterinary Technician Salary by State

State Annual Mean Wage Annual Hourly Wage
Alaska $43,510 $20.92
Alabama $30,780 $14.80
Arkansas $29,850 $14.35
Arizona $36,190 $17.40
California $45,140 $21.70
Colorado $39,980 $19.22
Connecticut $44,380 $21.34
District of Columbia $68,110 $32.75
Delaware $37,000 $17.79
Florida $35,840 $17.23
Georgia $37,560 $18.06
Hawaii $43,420 $20.87
Iowa $35,630 $17.13
Idaho $34,660 $16.66
Illinois $43,310 $20.82
Indiana $35,230 $16.94
Kansas $36,310 $17.46
Kentucky $31,520 $15.15
Louisiana $28,380 $13.64
Massachusetts $43,290 $20.81
Maryland $40,250 $19.35
Maine $38,990 $18.74
Michigan $38,540 $18.53
Minnesota $39,740 $19.11
Missouri $33,240 $15.98
Mississippi $28,300 $13.61
Montana $32,980 $15.86
North Carolina $36,300 $17.45
North Dakota $37,170 $17.87
Nebraska $36,930 $17.76
New Hampshire $41,390 $19.90
New Jersey $42,020 $20.20
New Mexico $33,290 $16.00
Nevada $44,180 $21.24
New York $45,560 $21.90
Ohio $36,510 $17.55
Oklahoma $33,200 $15.96
Oregon $40,960 $19.69
Pennsylvania $37,670 $18.11
Rhode Island $38,050 $18.29
South Carolina $38,230 $18.38
South Dakota $34,440 $16.56
Tennessee $33,700 $16.20
Texas $33,040 $15.88
Utah $32,310 $15.54
Virginia $41,840 $20.12
Vermont $35,140 $16.89
Washington $47,550 $22.86
Wisconsin $37,510 $18.03
West Virginia $32,480 $15.62
Wyoming $33,280 $16.00


Is being a vet tech worth it?

Becoming a veterinary technician takes a lot of focus, skill, and hard work, but if you have a passion for spending time with and helping animals, it can be a really rewarding career. In addition, projected job growth means you can look forward to stability within the industry.

Read more: Our Online Vet Tech Associate Degree is Perfect for Animal Lovers

Veterinary technicians vs. veterinary assistants

Veterinary assistants can get started in the field without any formal training, and aren’t required to obtain certifications. Many vet assistants, however, choose a program of study to help get started and may opt to take the Approved Veterinary Assistant Exam to improve their resume. Veterinary technicians, however, are often required by the state to obtain certification, registration, or a license as well as pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).

Regarding job duties, veterinary technicians focus mainly on clinical duties. They can be found helping veterinarians with procedures and treatments, tending to injuries, performing x-rays and bloodwork, and recording vitals. Though veterinary assistants may often be found helping both veterinarians and veterinary technicians with tasks like handling and restraining patients and wound care, the bulk of their work is centered on clerical and administrative duties, like setting up and cleaning equipment, checking in patients, and scheduling appointments. Often you will find that veterinary assistants use their experience as a starting point to move on to becoming veterinary technicians.

In addition to training and job duties, there is a difference in salaries between the roles, too. Since veterinary technicians need more education and require certification, these positions usually pay higher salaries. In 2021, veterinary technicians earned an average of $36,850 per year vs. $29,780 for veterinary assistants.

Is veterinary tech a good career?

Even if you have a strong desire to help animals, you might still be wondering if becoming a veterinary technician is a good career choice. The bottom line is that it all depends on you. Becoming a certified veterinary technician requires a lot of intensive education, with a lot of math, in addition to a rigorous externship program. It will take a energy and focus to study the materials, especially to sit for the VTNE exam. Ashworth Veterinary Tech instructor, Danielle Chesek, explains:

“I think many students do not expect veterinary technology programs to be so informative and challenging. There is a lot to learn! Students are expected to know anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, surgical nursing and anesthesia, and more! There can be a misconception that veterinary technicians "play with puppies and kittens" all day, but the field as we know it is rapidly progressing and many new opportunities now exist for veterinary technicians... Students should expect programs to be challenging and to expect those same challenges while working in the field.”

While the Ashworth Veterinary Technician Program can be tough, students state that it really prepares them for what they face in real-world scenarios. But, if you’re up to it and know your heart is in the work, becoming a veterinary technician can be a very personally fulfilling career choice.

Read more: Veterinary Tech instructor Danielle Wants to Help People Help Animals

Start your journey to becoming a vet tech

Because the profession is growing, there’s never been a better time to get started on this path. Learn more about the AVMA CVTEA-accredited online veterinary technician program at Ashworth College or talk to an Admissions Advisor today by calling 1-800-957-5412.

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