What is a Veterinary Technician

A veterinary technician (also known as Veterinary Technologist, Vet Tech, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Certified Veterinary Technician, Registered Veterinary Technician, and Veterinary Laboratory Technician) assumes many of the technical duties and care in a veterinary setting, working under a veterinarian. They are generally the first person to handle an animal on its visit to the clinic, and they aid in the diagnosis and treatment of their medical diseases. For more information on how to become a veterinary technician, please visit our veterinary technician job description page.

Work Environment

Veterinary technicians work in private clinics, animal hospitals, or laboratories. Their working areas are similar to physicians’ offices, with clean examination rooms and easily accessed medical equipment and supplies. Veterinary technicians will also assist in surgeries, helping the veterinarian before, during, and after.

The position can be quite demanding, both physically and emotionally. With a range of animal sizes, a vet tech could go from lifting a two-pound guinea pig to a 75-pound dog on to the exam table in the same day. Larger animals, such as horses, will generally require home visits, and won’t need to be lifted.

Work Schedule

A veterinary technician will usually work a standard 40 hour-per-week schedule, with occasional needs to work beyond that in emergency situations. They may also be asked to work overtime hours to provide overnight care for critically ill or recovering patients.

Mean Annual Veterinary Technician Salary

The average veterinary technician makes $31,470 annually. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $21,030 and the top 10% makes over $44,030.

Veterinary Technician Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$31,470 per year
$15.13 per hour
Top 10% Salary$44,030 per year
$21.17 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$21,030 per year
$10.11 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201283,350

Veterinary Technician Job Outlook and Prospects

The outlook for veterinary technicians is promising, with the field expected to grow by as much as 30% between 2012 and 2022. Job prospects are especially excellent in rural areas, where there is a high demand and a current lack of vet techs.

Factors affecting a Veterinary Technician’s Wage

There are several factors affecting the salary of a veterinary technician. Work experience is one of the principle ones, as well as their geographical location of employment (which can offer a nearly $15,000 difference), the employer and industry they work for, and the internships they have been involved in.

The average salary for a vet tech in 2012 was $31,470. However, with all of the above factors, a veterinary technician salary can range from $18,840 for a beginning veterinary technician to $48,370 if they work for the Federal Executive Branch. There is no single clear factor that can determine these differences, but rather a plethora of factors working together.

Education and Specialization 

Education is a strong determining factor for a veterinary technician’s salary. Depending on their qualifications, they can earn between $19,000 and $39,700, as well as bonuses. A certified veterinary technician, for example, can earn an average of $31,000, whereas a registered veterinary technician can earn around $36,500.

There is a fair degree of specialization, as well, however this will also depend and dictate on where you wish to work. Small animal work can put you in a standard veterinary office, working with household pets. Large animal work, however, will have you working with a veterinarian in a more rural area, caring for horses, cows, and the like. The specialization in and of itself won’t offer particular salary increases, but may place you as an ideal candidate in an area you wish to work, and which may offer a better salary.

Experience and Position 

The starting salary, as mentioned, is in the $18,840 range. However, more experience will bring commensurate wage increases, to the current average of $31,470.

The position of a veterinary technician is a less likely factor to influence salary. Unless working in a very large office, or in a part of the industry more suited to working with a team of veterinary technicians, most vet techs will be working under a veterinarian. However, there are areas, especially such as in labs, which may allow for a hierarchy of veterinary technicians; this would lead to suitable wage differences.


Industry is another factor strongly influence salary of a veterinary tech. While many aspects of the industry hover around or somewhat above the standard, the Federal Executive Branch offers a much higher average salary, as does the state government at $40,720. Most others have an average in the $30,000-$39,000 range.


Alaska has the highest salary based on location, at $39,380. Virginia, Connecticut, and New York are in the second, third, and fourth place, all in the $37,000 range.

In terms of metropolitan areas, though, Norwich-New London in Connecticut-Rhode Island offers the best wage at $44,680, followed closely by Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, South Carolina. The top 10 metropolitan areas all come in over $40,000, so investigating metropolitan wages is the best area to search for competitive salaries.

Veterinary Technician Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Norwich, CT: $44,680Alaska: $39,380Federal Executive Branch: $48,370California: (8,670 jobs) $35,840
Greenville, SC: $44,460Virginia: $37,330State Government: $40,720Texas: (7,730 jobs) $28,160
Poughkeepsie, NY: $43,130Connecticut: $37,280Employment Services: $38,950Florida: (7,140 jobs) $28,470
Philadelphia, PA: $42,270New York: $37,150Scientific Research and Development Services : $38,230Pennsylvania: (3,660 jobs) $34,380
San Francisco, CA: $41,800Delaware: $36,780Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools: $38,100New York: (3,630 jobs) $37,150

Veterinary Technician Salary State By State