Vet Tech School in Connecticut: Becoming a Vet Tech
Connecticut is one of the few states that doesn’t have a governmental agency that licenses, certifies, or registers its veterinary technicians. This doesn’t mean, however, that the state is generally behind the times with regard to veterinary technology. Third party certification is big here, and the major requirements for new technicians are on a par with those required in states that license.
Connecticut’s veterinary technology occupation has been projected to grow by 16.5% between 2016 and 2026. Connecticut is listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the top paying state in the nation for veterinary technicians, the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area as the highest paying metropolitan area. Here, as in other parts of the country, there is a range of earnings, partly because employers have a range of staffing needs.
Vet Tech Schools in Connecticut
Connecticut boasts three in-state programs, all offered by community colleges. Each awards an Associate of Applied Science.
Northwestern Community College has achieved full AVMA CVTEA accreditation.
Norwalk Community College, having begun its program more recently, has initial accreditation. The program can be completed in four semesters. There are three prerequisite courses (predominately sciences). Externship courses are completed during the final two semesters.
Middlesex Community College in Middletown has initial accreditation. Partnerships provide experience in varied settings. Students do their lab animal rotation in a location made possible by cooperation with Yale; local farms provide experience with large animals.
Veterinary support staff are hired at different levels. Yes, there are veterinary assistant positions as well, and one doesn’t have to have that veterinary technology degree in hand to find a position in a veterinarian practice! Some positions, though, require a good deal of technical know-how. Certification –earned through completion of an associate level veterinary technology degree and passing scores on a national examination — is the signal. Middlesex Community College lists the following among the competencies techs have at program completion:
• Performing physical exams (including using stethoscopes)
• Providing nursing care for domestic animals
• Restraining animals
• Assisting the vet with surgical procedures
• Monitoring and maintaining anesthetized patients
• Performing laboratory procedures like blood chemistries and parasitic examinations
• Exposing and developing radiographs
• Communicating with clients
There are some veterinary technicians in the area who not only hold general certification but specialty certification as well.
Becoming a CVT and Progressing in the Field in Vet Tech
A prospective veterinary technician should begin by enrolling in a program that is accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities of the American Veterinary Medical Association. While there are other pathways to third party credentialing in Connecticut, this is the most universally accepted pathway.
A prospective CVT will later sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
Preparation begins before formal program admission. Vet tech programs typically set a few prerequisite requirements.
Vet techs who are in a position to seek specialty certification will go through an academy of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.
Veterinary technicians who have sufficient experience may seek Credentialed Veterinary Technician status in Connecticut without formal education in veterinary technology (https://www.ctvta.org/cvtmembership-information.pml). This is also the case with some individuals who have completed closely related degree programs that are not accredited by AVMA-CVTEA. CVT veterinary status is also extended to professionals who hold licenses, certifications, or registrations in other states, provided the other credentialing body as equivalent or higher standards.
Connecticut Vet Tech Employers
There are a lot of specialty practices in major metropolitan areas. Rural areas have their own special needs — and a patient population that says far more than ‘woof’ and ‘miaow’. The following is a look at some of Connecticut’s large veterinary practices:
Pieper Veterinary is a major Connecticut veterinary business, with five locations offering primary care and two offering emergency and specialty care. Pieper Veterinary has a lot of vets on their team, some of who have specialties like cardiology or rehabilitation. The business utilizes both technicians and assistants. They have a partnership with the veterinary technician program at local community colleges.
Bolton Veterinary Hospital, a well-established part of the Bolton Community, is AAHA-accredited. Some of the technicians on staff have been with the practice for decades. Several technicians are listed as having supervisory roles. One technician, now certified, began her work with Bolton as a volunteer when she was just 15.
Salmon Brook in Granby looks after animals big and small, and it’s pretty big itself! The website lists nine veterinarians, 13 technicians, and quite a few other employees, including kennel staff and reception. Patients include dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, horses and ruminants, among others.
Cornell University Veterinary Specialists is largely a referral veterinary facility. The organization notes that they have 28 credentialed technicians and that some have specialty certifications. This is the type of organization that one may aspire to after some time in the field. Cornell University Veterinary Specialists was among those advertising in mid-2019. At this time, they were soliciting certified techs with two or more years of experience. They stated that they could offer mentorship toward specialty certification as well as benefits and “very competitive” wages.
In 2018, Connecticut’s veterinary technicians earned an average salary of $20.84 an hour or $43,340 for a year of full-time work. Technicians at the 10th percentile made $14.47; this signals an entry-level wage above that of the typical state. Those at the 90th percentile, meanwhile, made $28.97.
Student and Professional Resources
Prospective vet techs are referred to the Connecticut Veterinary Technician Association for certification information (https://www.ctvta.org). CTVTA accepts student members; they must be enrolled in programs that are accredited and recognized.
CTVTA is affiliated with a national professional association. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America can provide many additional resources.
The annual Cornell CE Conference is a source of continuing education for veterinarians and technicians alike (https://www.ctvta.org/ctvtanews.pml).