What Is the Annual Salary of a Vet Tech?

By Shelley Moore

  • Overview

    The average annual salary of a veterinary technician, or vet tech, depends a great deal on experience, size of the organization and location. Those in metropolitan areas make significantly more than those in small towns or rural areas. Vet techs usually obtain an Associate's degree from a technical college and are licensed by the state, and most work in animal hospitals or clinics.
  • Job Duties

    A vet tech has a broad range of job duties. They are nurses, anesthetists, phlebotomists, radiology technicians and laboratory technicians to all kinds of animals. They administer vaccines, draw blood for tests and run diagnostic procedures. Vet techs usually have more contact with pets and their owners than anyone else in the animal hospital or clinic, including the veterinarians. The salary is relatively low for the level of responsibility and education requirements.
  • Salary

    As of 2009, median starting annual salary for vet techs was about $27,000, with an increase to about $30,000 with 5 years' experience. Highest annual salaries are about $38,000. As of 2006, 80 percent of vet techs were earning between about $9 and $18 an hour. Narrowing it further, the middle 50 percent were earning between $10 and $16 an hour.

  • Benefits

    Most vet techs work in veterinary practices such as clinics and animal hospitals, where they may be employed either full time or part time. Full-time techs usually have full benefits with vacation and holiday pay, a 401(k) plan and health insurance. Usually both full-time and part-time vet techs receive discounts on veterinary service, and boarding and grooming if those services are provided by the clinic. They typically receive incentives for continuing education as well.
  • Other Opportunities

    Some vet techs find work at zoos, aquariums or wildlife rehabilitation facilities, although the pay is on the low end of the scale because of intense competition. In addition, there are job opportunities at large animal shelters, but these facilities usually offer the lowest pay of all due to the nonprofit status.
  • Potential

    Vet techs can advance to higher-paying positions as supervisors in large veterinary practices or as technicians in research institutions. Pharmaceutical laboratories typically have low starting pay but rapid advancement, with the average salary around $35,000. State government opportunities also provide annual salaries for veterinary technicians at around $35,000. In addition, career opportunities are available at biomedical facilities and diagnostic research laboratories. All these organizations typically have jobs involving medical research and working with laboratory animals. Vet techs who choose to work in pharmaceutical sales can earn much higher pay than they could as a hands-on technician.
  • Considerations

    Working as a vet tech at a clinic or animal hospital means dealing with stressful and unpredictable situations. It also means working odd hours including evenings and weekends. Statistics show a tendency for technicians working in veterinary practices to leave the field after 7 or 8 years because of these reasons along with the relatively low potential for advancement. On the other hand, some veterinary technicians make the work a lifetime career, stating that the job is very rewarding and interesting.
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