Veterinary Technician Schools in Iowa

For aspiring veterinary technicians, the Hawkeye State offers a wealth of opportunities in schooling, employment, and professional networking. For example, the Central Iowa Veterinary Technician Association (CIVTA) connects veterinary specialists from all over Iowa, providing informative newsletters, continuing education (CE) conferences, and fun prizes for participation at select events.

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc. (ARL) is another local organization that arranges pet adoptions, fostering, charity events, K-12 classroom programs, volunteering, and animal advocacy awareness. In addition to employing several licensed veterinarians and vet techs, the ARL has been involved in pushing for legislation regarding mandatory spaying & neutering of pets, making animal torture a felony, and prosecuting puppy mill perpetrators.

Veterinary technicians in Iowa and beyond are invaluable to animal health care. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs provide first aid to animals; collect and analyze laboratory specimens to diagnose conditions; monitor patient vital signs; maintain the cleanliness and sterilization of the healthcare environment; keep detailed medical records; help veterinarians with common procedures (e.g., dental, analgesic, surgical, radiologic, etc.); and educate pet owners on best care practices.

The AVMA (2021) adds that these responsibilities vary by state. In Iowa, the scope of practice is relatively broad. Vet techs may provide lifesaving treatments for animals under emergency conditions—including giving oxygen, maintaining airways, inserting endotracheal tubes and IV catheters, controlling hemorrhaging, and administering corticosteroids—even in the absence of a veterinarian. These animal healthcare professionals may work normal business hours but may be called upon to work holidays, weekends, or evenings according to the needs of their furry, feathered, or scaly patients.

Keep reading to learn about the promising career outlook for vet techs in IA, as well as to discover accredited veterinary technician programs and how to become professionally credentialed.

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Des Moines Area Community College 2006 Ankeny Blvd, Ankeny, Iowa, 50023-3993NoYes
Iowa Lakes Community College 300 S 18th St, Estherville, Iowa, 51334NoYes
Iowa Western Community College 2700 College Rd, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 51503-1057NoYes
Kirkwood Community College 6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 52406-2068NoYes
Muscatine Community College 152 Colorado Street, Muscatine, Iowa, 52761NoYes
Northeast Iowa Community College 1625 Hwy 150 South, Calmar, Iowa, 52132NoYes

Occupational Outlook for Vet Techs in Iowa

In Iowa and other states, there is a very bright career outlook for people in the veterinary technology field. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) expects vet tech openings nationwide to swell 15 percent between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations during that time (8 percent).

Projections Central (2021) offers more granular data on the future of vet techs in IA. It found that openings for veterinary technicians and technologists are expected to increase at an even faster rate (18.1 percent) than what’s anticipated nationally.

Where Do Vet Techs in Iowa Work?

Fortunately for veterinary technicians in Iowa, there is a wealth of employment opportunities in a wide range of environments. Traditionally vet techs work in animal clinics and hospitals, and they’re also employed by farms, shelters, rescue centers, zoos, aquariums, universities, research facilities, manufacturing companies, humane societies, kennels, veterinary supply sales, food safety inspection offices, and parks. While some Iowa residents in this field may work traditional business hours, others may be asked to work evenings, holidays, or even weekends to serve the needs of veterinary patients.

If the traditional job-seeking websites are any indication, there should be plenty of opportunities in this field in the coming years. By illustration, Indeed (2021) posted job openings for vet techs at places such as Trans Ova Genetics, Somerset Veterinary Hospital, Bondurant Animal Clinic, and Banfield Pet Hospital. Monster (2021) had additional postings in IA at Mission Veterinary Partners, Independence Veterinary Clinic, and Prairie View Animal Hospital. There’s no shortage of openings in this career field in IA.

In Iowa, there are not only job openings listed on typical job-hunting sites but also through niche services such as iHireVeterinary, which provides Iowa vet tech job listings at sites such as Iowa State University, Elanco Animal Health Incorporated, Trans Ova Genetics, and Christensen Farms.

One way in which an IA vet tech can stand out from the crowd of job applicants is to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes many subfields of veterinary technology, including dermatology, equine science, laboratory animals, clinical pathology, dentistry, zoological medicine, and anesthesia.

To this end, there are various societies and academies, some of which offer professional accreditation in the field, including the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians and the Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians. To qualify as a VTS, candidates typically need to have at least 1,000 hours of experience in their subfield and pass an exam.

To learn more about the VTS pathways, check out the vet tech careers page.

Vet Tech Salary in Iowa

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), the 109,490 veterinary technicians nationwide had an annual average salary of $37,860 and the 970 veterinary technicians in IA had an annual average salary of $34,430.

The table below is a comparison of national and state salaries of veterinary technicians.

United States Iowa
Number of veterinary technicians employed 109,490 970
Annual mean wage $37,860 $34,430
10th percentile $25,520 $26,580
25th percentile $30,030 $29,190
50th percentile (median) $36,260 $33,550
75th percentile $43,890 $38,310
90th percentile $52,410 $44,380

Although the salary averages and percentiles for IA vet techs were somewhat lower, it’s important to note that the state is one of the most affordable states in the United States. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) reported that IA is the 8th most affordable state nationwide.

It’s important to note that these figures also varied based on the source of data. By illustration, Indeed (December 2021) found an average annual salary of $27,336 among IA veterinary technicians, and PayScale (December 2021), found the following percentiles nationally:

  • 10th percentile: $28,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,326
  • 90th percentile: $52,000

Accredited Vet Tech Schools in Iowa

For animal-loving residents of the Hawkeye State seeking to become veterinary technicians, there are currently six programs available that have been accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the program approval branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This is the gold standard for the approval of vet tech programs. To learn about how programs are accredited, please visit the accreditation section below.

To earn entry into an accredited vet tech program in IA, candidates typically need to submit the following:

  • High school transcripts with proof of having completed specific classes (e.g., biology, algebra, English)
  • An essay or personal statement
  • Proof of health insurance and vaccinations
  • A processing fee

Additionally, for applicants whose first language isn’t English, qualifying TOEFL scores may be required. Some of the more competitive programs may also ask for candidate interviews, experience working with animals, or letters of recommendation.

Kirkwood Community College

One of the standout programs in IA is available at Kirkwood Community College, which offers a two-year associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology through its Department of Agricultural Sciences. At Kirkwood Community College, students will learn to work with several animals such as dogs, horses, cats, cows, birds, sheep, snakes, rats, and hamsters.

Kirkwood boasts an impressive first-time passing rate among graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This is a key determinant of program quality since it indicates how well a vet tech is prepared for the VTNE, a typical credentialing requirement in most states. Graduates of Kirkwood Community College had a 77 percent first-time passing rate on the VTNE between 2018 and 2021.

Made up of 83 credits, the program includes classes such as veterinary medical terminology, leadership in agriculture, animal anatomy & physiology, animal behavior, large animal & poultry medicine, avian, exotics, & small mammals, microbiology, veterinary pharmacology, and animal nursing.

Please note that this school also requires students to take the HESI entrance exam. Graduates of the program will be able to take up opportunities at biological research labs, pet shops, animal shelters, and state & federal agencies.

  • Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $17,481

Des Moines Area Community College

Another option is at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), which provides both didactic and hands-on training in veterinary technology as part of its 77-credit AAS degree program. Students will be trained in the latest advancements in veterinary technology.

Classes at DMACC include health science anatomy, microbiology, diagnostic imaging, veterinary pharmacology, pharmacy skills, veterinary nursing care, and clinical pathology. Also, students must enroll in a comprehensive internship at a locally approved site. Notably, 86 percent of DMACC program graduates passed the VTNE between 2018 and 2021.

Graduates may find work in small, large, or mixed animal practices. Other opportunities exist in animal shelters, humane societies, specialty veterinary practices, zoos, biological research labs, pet shops, veterinary teaching hospitals, animal control agencies, and state and federal agencies.

  • Location: Ankeny, Iowa
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $174 per credit

Iowa Lakes Community College

Iowa Lakes Community College offers an associate in applied science degree in veterinary technician providing students with the knowledge and skills needed for assisting veterinarians in a range of ways. Students through this program will gain hands-on experience with lab tests, surgical assisting, and radiology procedures through the college’s internship opportunities and animal clinic observations classes.

Comprising 77 credits the program includes courses such as introduction to veterinary science, animal anatomy & physiology, veterinary anesthesiology, animal nutrition, veterinary pharmacology, and veterinary tech anatomy & physiology.

Between 2018 and 2021, 54.8 percent of Iowa Lakes Community College’s graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) on their first attempt.

  • Location: Estherville, Iowa
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five terms
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($191 per credit); Minnesota resident ($196 per credit); non-resident ($202 per credit)

Iowa Western Community College

Iowa Western Community College offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology that encompasses four semesters and one summer. Students in this program participate in animal care duties every day and learn valuable skills in surgical labs. The faculty of the program includes dedicated instructors with real-world experience.

The program comprises 79 credits including coursework in the principles of veterinary technology, clinical pathology lab, veterinary pharmacology, kennel management & animal care, principles of sanitation, large animal care, avian, exotic & lab animal care, and more. Iowa Western veterinary technology students train in the new stat-of-the-art veterinary technology facility giving students a solid dose of hands-on practice by matriculation. 2018 to 2021 VTNE first-time pass rate for IWCC is 89.36 percent.

Graduates of the program will be ready to take up roles such as veterinary technicians, patient care coordinators, veterinary assistants, animal caretakers, animal care assistants, animal technicians, and residential counselors.

  • Location: Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four semesters and one summer
  • Estimated Tuition: Iowa resident ($194 per credit); non-resident ($199 per credit)

Muscatine Community College

Muscatine Community College also offers an AAS degree in veterinary technology. Preparing students to enter the job market as veterinary technicians, the program at MCC enables its graduates to perform several functions necessary for the care of animals. Courses in this program are taught by experienced veterinarians and veterinary technicians who have a wealth of real-world knowledge in the industry.

The program consists of 76 credits with courses that include veterinary medical terminology, canine and feline behavior, veterinary clinic pathology, canine and feline nutrition, professional communication, diagnostic imaging, surgical nursing, and more. Students also complete an internship at the end of the program. The 3-year first-time pass rate on the VTNE for Muscatine graduates was 57.6% between 2018 and 2021.

Graduates can pursue opportunities at zoos and wildlife facilities, drug or feed manufacturing companies, humane societies & animal control facilities, biomedical facilities, diagnostic laboratories, veterinary colleges or universities, and many more such areas.

  • Location: Davenport, Iowa
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($179 per credit); out-of-state ($246 per credit)

Northeast Iowa Community College

Northeast Iowa Community College offers a production and companion animal veterinary technician AAS degree in Calmar, IA. Students can begin this 67 credit program in summer, spring, or fall. The college’s dairy herd is utilized, as well as a commercial companion animal hospital, to provide students with experience with different species of animals. Students also complete internships to gain more hands-on experience.

Courses include domestic animal physiology, large animal diagnostics, dosage calculations for veterinary technicians, companion animal science, microbiology, animal health, dosage calculations for veterinary technicians, large animal diagnostics, and more.

Northeast Iowa Community College graduates had a 60.87 percent first-time pass rate on the VTNE between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: Calmar, Iowa
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $13,668

Online Vet Tech Programs for Iowa Students

For residents of more rural areas in IA or those with time commitments (e.g., familial, professional, etc.), attending a distance-based veterinary technician program may be the best option. These programs typically involve the combination of web-based courses and the completion of hands-on mentorships at approved local sites under the guidance of credentialed veterinary professionals.

There are currently ten accredited online vet tech programs.

Colby Community College

One is available at Colby Community College (CCC). This 82-credit AAS program in veterinary technology features classes such as breeds of domestic animals, basic nutrition of domestic animals, animal facility management and sanitization, veterinary clinical chemistry, anatomy and physiology for veterinary nurses, Veterinary Hematology, and veterinary nursing microbiology.

For CCC’s distance learning program, 85 percent of graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: Colby, KS
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Eight terms
  • Estimated Tuition: Thomas County ($136.25 per credit); Kansas resident ($141.25 per credit); out-of-state ($195.25 per credit)

Purdue University

Another competitive option is available at the prestigious Purdue University, which has both on-campus and online AAS programs in veterinary technology. The web-based program may only be taken part-time and typically takes three years to complete.

In a rigorous combination of 27 online classes and 18 clinical mentorships, students are prepared for their careers. Made up of 70 credits, the program includes courses such as veterinary physiology, veterinary anatomy, introduction to ophthalmology, dermatology, and oncology, parasitology, and diagnostic imaging for vet techs. The empirical mentorships cover similar subjects, as well as equine nursing, operating room technique & sterilization procedures, and pharmacy.

An impressive 96.4 percent of online graduates from Purdue passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $270 per credit

To discover the array of distance-based vet tech programs available, please check out the online veterinary technician programs page.

Vet Tech Registration in Iowa

The main credentialing agency in Iowa to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) is the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine. Please note that registration is now mandatory in Iowa. To qualify, candidates must do the following:

  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
  • Submit an application
  • Pass a state exam
  • Pay a processing fee

To maintain this three-year credential, vet techs must complete 30 hours of qualifying continuing education (CE). Please note that the CE requirement may be waived for some military personnel pending the approval of the Board. For a detailed examination of the Iowa state legislation regarding vet techs, please visit the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine’s laws page.

Finally, there are many online resources available for vet tech CE. These include VetMed Team, the National American Veterinary Technicians Association (NAVTA), and Purina.

Vet Tech Program Accreditation

For veterinary technician schools, there are two main types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. For institutional accreditation, colleges in Iowa are approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six regional organizations recognized by the US Department of Education’s Commission for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

More importantly for vet techs, however, is programmatic accreditation. As mentioned in the section on vet tech programs in IA, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) is the primary accreditation body across the country. It weighs several factors in its program approval process such as school finances, quality of the curriculum, admissions processes, availability of resources (e.g., libraries, state-of-the-art equipment, adequate facilities, etc.), and student outcomes.

For a comprehensive look at CVTEA’s program approval process, please check out the vet tech program accreditation standards page.

Jocelyn Blore (Chief Content Strategist)

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as an English teacher and freelance writer. After stints in England, Japan, and Brazil, she settled in San Francisco and worked as a managing editor for a tech company. When not writing about veterinary technology, nursing, engineering, and other career fields, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor.