Veterinary Technician Schools in Pennsylvania

For aspiring veterinary technicians in the Keystone State, the future looks very bright indeed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), there are currently 4,670 vet techs employed in Pennsylvania, making it the fourth-highest employing state nationally. In addition, the Philadelphia area alone is one of the highest employing metropolitan areas for these animal care specialists in the U.S. at 2,180. Furthermore, vet techs were paid an average annual salary of $36,210 in Pennsylvania, almost on par with the national average of $37,860.

Not only is Pennsylvania one of the highest employing states with a high annual wage, but the career prospects for this profession both in this state and nationally are predicted to grow considerably. The BLS (2021) reports that openings for vet techs and technologists are expected to swell 15 percent nationally between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations (8 percent).

So how does an animal-lover in the Quaker State become involved in this career on the rise? Although vet techs must become certified by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association prior to practice, there are several accredited veterinary technician schools in PA to prepare aspiring animal healthcare professionals for all of the steps involved.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs may legally perform nonsurgical procedures such as collecting specimens, administering vaccines, providing nutritional counseling to pet-owners, performing diagnostic imaging (e.g., radiography), giving anesthesia, and conducting dental extractions under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. For a detailed examination of PA’s scope of practice laws, please visit the AVMA website.

Read on to discover the promising career outlook for vet techs in PA, as well as to explore accredited vet tech programs and how to become a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in Pennsylvania.

School Website main address online program Avma Accredited
Harcum College 750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 19010-3470NoYes
Institute of Medical and Business Careers 5739 W. 26th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania, 16506NoYes
Johnson College 3427 N Main Ave, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18508-1495NoYes
Lancaster County Career & Technology Center 1730 Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street, Pennsylvania, 17584-0527NoYes
Lehigh Carbon Community College 4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, 18078-2598NoYes
Manor College 700 Fox Chase Rd, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 19046-3399NoYes
Northampton Community College 3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18020-7599NoYes
Pittsburgh Career Institute 421 Seventh Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15219NoYes
Vet Tech Institute 125 Seventh St, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15222-3400NoYes
Wilson College 1015 Philadelphia Ave, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 17201-1285NoYes
YTI Career Institute 1405 Williams Road, York, Pennsylvania, 16602NoYes

Strong Outlook for Vet Tech Jobs in Pennsylvania (PA)

There are strong job prospects for veterinary technicians both in Pennsylvania and nationally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) estimates that there will be a 15 percent increase in openings for these professionals between 2020 and 2030—much more robust than the 8 percent growth projected for all occupations. With these 17,100 added jobs anticipated nationally, many of them in Pennsylvania, becoming a vet tech can be a wise career choice.

Projections Central (2022) offers more granular data on the future of vet techs in PA. It found that openings for veterinary technicians and technologists are expected to increase at an even faster rate (19.3 percent) than what’s anticipated nationally.

Where Are Pennsylvania Vet Techs Employed?

In Pennsylvania and beyond, veterinary technicians typically work not only in veterinary clinics and hospitals, but also in zoos, kennels, animal rescue centers, shelters, adoption non-profit organizations, farms, laboratories, biomedical (or pharmaceutical) research facilities, aquariums, and universities.

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 (January 2022) posted job openings for vet techs at places such as BluePearl Specialty + Emergency Pet Hospital, Valley Central Veterinary Referral Center, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, and Avets. Monster (January 2022) had additional postings in PA at Abby Road Veterinary Hospital, Queen Village Animal Hospital, Pocono Peak Veterinary Center, and Creature Comforts Veterinary Service.

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

Vet Tech Salary in Pennsylvania

The BLS (May 2020) reported that 4,670 vet techs in Pennsylvania make an average annual salary of $36,210, almost on par with the average national salary for these workers at $37,860. Here is a comparison of the national and state salary data:

United States Pennsylvania
Number of vet techs employed 109,490 4,670
Average annual salary $37,860 $36,210
10th percentile $25,520 $25,020
25th percentile $30,030 $29,150
50th percentile (median) $36,260 $35,110
75th percentile $43,890 $41,400
90th percentile $52,410 $50,310

Given that vet tech school in Pennsylvania typically costs only a fraction of the expected annual salary for these professionals, this investment can pay off. In addition, Pennsylvania is ranked 29 in the most affordable states in which to live by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2022), boasting savings in housing.

It’s important to note that these figures also varied based on the source of data. By illustration, Indeed (January 2022) found an average annual salary of $29,270 among Pennsylvania veterinary technicians.

Payscale (January 2022), found the following percentiles nationally:

  • 10th percentile: $28,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,973
  • 90th percentile: $52,000

How to Become a Vet Tech in Pennsylvania (PA)

Here are the typical steps to become a veterinary technician in Pennsylvania:

  • Pass prerequisite classes in high school (four years). To gain admittance to an accredited program in Pennsylvania, aspiring vet techs typically must have taken algebra I/II, biology, and chemistry. Some programs also recommend classes in physics, calculus, or statistics to enhance a student’s candidacy.
  • Graduate from an accredited vet tech program in Pennsylvania (two to four years). To become eligible for this profession, vet techs must complete a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These programs can last from 18 months to four years, generally resulting in an associate of science (AS), an associate of applied science (AAS), an associate in specialized technology (AST), or a bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) after completing all requirements. The O*NET (2021)—a partner of the American Job Center—reports that a majority of vet techs nationally hold a high school diploma or equivalent (41 percent) followed by an associate’s degree (26 percent). In these programs, Pennsylvania students may take classes such as veterinary clinical pathology, surgery, radiology procedures, and exotic animal nutrition, in addition to completing clinical practicums.
  • Take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). To be eligible in this state, one must have passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
  • Become certified with the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine (a few weeks). To become a certified vet tech (CVT) in this state, these prospective healthcare professionals must get credentialed. There is no special state test or jurisprudence exam in Pennsylvania, but students must complete an application in addition to sending their VTNE exam scores. For those licensed in other states, they can apply for a vet tech certification endorsement with a letter of good standing from their current licensing entity.
  • Maintain certification (every two years). Students are expected to maintain their certification from the Pennsylvania State Board. The certifications expire in two years and candidates are eligible for recertification following the completion of 16 hours of continued education.

Therefore certified veterinary technicians in Pennsylvania can expect to complete two to five years of post-secondary work, depending on the degree attained, VTNE testing schedule, and application submission method (online or paper-based).

Finding Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Pennsylvania (PA)

There are many quality vet tech schools in Pennsylvania. To become eligible for practice, candidates must graduate from a program accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the main program approval entity of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Accreditation ensures that schools are meeting standards of quality, including instruction, curriculum, clinical opportunities, and student outcomes. Prior to enrolling in a program, all prospective veterinary technicians in PA are advised to check the AVMA status of their programs. All programs include labs and some sort of clinical experience such as a preceptorship or externship.

As of 2022, there are 11 AVMA-accredited vet tech programs in PA:

California University of Pennsylvania

The California University of Pennsylvania offers an associate degree in veterinary technology preparing students to enter this exciting field as entry-level veterinary technicians. Students in this program will study laws about animal care and will also learn about animal anatomy, diseases, and behavior, along with best practices for practice management, recordkeeping, and animal handling.

Made up of 60 credits, the program includes courses such as anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; introduction to veterinary technology; care and management of exotic and laboratory animals; veterinary clinical technology and laboratory procedures; veterinary pharmacy and pharmacology; and surgical nursing, anesthesia & pain management. Credits earned in this program can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology.

Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam. With initial CVTEA accreditation earned in 2021, first-time VTNE pass rates are not yet available.

  • Location: California, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Pennsylvania resident ($322 per credit); non-Pennsylvania residents ($482 per credit)

Harcum College

Harcum College, located in Bryn Mawr, offers students an associate of science (AS) degree program in veterinary technology. Students in this 92 credit program will be prepared to enter the workforce as veterinary technicians in private veterinary practices, zoo or wildlife medicine, pharmaceutical sales, biomedical research, teaching, raising livestock, humane societies, or anywhere that the welfare and health of animals are concerned. Also, students will be required to complete two 12-week practicums: one at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and one at New Bolton Center.

In addition to taking courses such as anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; pharmacology and anesthesia; laboratory animal science; intensive care rotation; anesthesia rotation; critical care rotation; and advanced nursing skills, students have the opportunity to gain clinical experience at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

This program typically takes six semesters to complete both the didactic and clinical practicum requirements. The first-time pass rate for Harcum graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) was 84 percent between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: Bryn Mawr, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $825 per credit

Institute of Medical and Business Careers

The Institute of Medical and Business Careers in Erie offers a veterinary technician associate in specialized technology (AST) program. Students enrolled in the program are trained in a new 12,000 square-foot facility. They receive hands-on experience with animals at partnered clinical sites such as the ANNA West shelter.

In addition to coursework including parasitology; laboratory and clinical skills for veterinary technicians; companion animal imaging; and more, students enrolled in the program are expected to complete general education requirements such as English, math, and biology. The program takes 1.5 years to complete, is offered in a daytime or evening format, and students will enjoy a class size of 35 or less. With initial CVTEA accreditation earned in 2019, first-time VTNE pass rates are not yet available.

  • Location: Erie, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $15,000

Johnson College

Johnson College offers a 74-credit associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. On-campus, students gain hands-on knowledge and skills at the Johnson College Animal Care Center, which offers routine exams, dental care, spays and neuters, and lab diagnostics to dogs and cats.

Courses include clinical applications for small and large animals; animal anatomy and physiology; parasitology and immunology; surgical nursing; and more. Johnson College graduates have an impressive three-year, first-time VTNE pass rate of 94 percent (2018-2021).

Graduates have opportunities in many areas of veterinary medicine such as research facilities, small and large animal clinics, zoos, academia, pharmaceutical companies, laboratories, and government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Location: Scranton, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $550 per credit

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center

Another option is offered through Lancaster County Career and Technology Center. Future vet techs will complete a 21-month, 74-credit associate degree program (AST) at the Willow Street campus. Combining classroom theory with laboratory experience, the program trains students on topics such as care, proper washing, surgical procedures, and feeding techniques, and overall care of animals.

Courses include laboratory animals, avians, and exotics; large animal science; veterinary office management; emergency small animal; veterinary dentistry; veterinary nutrition; veterinary anesthesia/surgical nursing; and more. 63.19 percent of candidates from Lancaster County CTC passed the VTNE on their first try between 2017 and 2020.

Graduates will be prepared to perform several tasks such as obtaining animal health records, scheduling appointments, admitting and discharging patients, filing medical records, handling receipts, performing basic client education, and all aspects of customer relations.

  • Location: Willow Street, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 21 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $22,200

Lehigh Carbon Community College

Lehigh Carbon Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in veterinary technology working jointly with Northampton Community College. Students through this program will be allowed to develop technical skills through several clinical experiences with live animals. Graduates will be prepared to sit for the veterinary technician national board examination.

Comprising 68 credits, the program includes courses such as animal management and nutrition; an introduction to computers and applications; physiological chemistry; veterinary clinical laboratory techniques; veterinary parasitology; animal disease; and more.

The first-time pass rate for Lehigh Carbon Community College graduates on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) was 85 percent between 2018 and 2021.

  • Location: Schnecksville, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Sponsoring district of LCCC ($122 per credit); other PA resident ($244 per credit); out-of-state or foreign student ($366 per credit); residents of Schuylkill County ($183 per credit)

Manor College

Manor College is another esteemed vet tech program in PA, accredited by the AVMA since 1992, and boasting a beautiful 35-acre campus and 50-acre farm. The campus offers hands-on labs in surgery, large and small animals, radiology, and more.

Consisting of 85 credits, the program includes courses such as hematology; animal medicine; veterinary radiology; veterinary pharmacology, anesthesiology, and pain management; animal nutrition; small animal dentistry; and more. Most notably, the clinical sections are relatively small with only six to eight students to guarantee adequate individual instruction.

The college is only a short distance from Philadelphia and offers a two-year associate of science (AS) degree to graduates after coursework in subjects such as breeds and behavior, laboratory animal science, and hematology. VTNE first-time pass scores averaged more than 90 percent for Manor graduates from 2018 to 2021.

  • Location: Jenkintown, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $724 per credit

Pittsburgh Career Institute

Pittsburgh Career Institute offers an associate in specialized technology (AST) degree in veterinary technology. The 88-credit program combines hands-on practice at their on-campus laboratory, x-ray, and surgical facilities, as well as at clinical instruction sites including agricultural farms, equine veterinary offices, animal shelters, animal hospitals, and clinics.

Courses include hematology and urinalysis techniques; internal parasitology; breeds/preventative medicine; specialized nutrition; avian and exotic care; veterinary surgical nursing; and more. Between 2018 and 2021, PCI graduates experienced a first-time VTNE pass rate of 38 percent.

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 to 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $14,674

The Vet Tech Institute

The Vet Tech Institute, with locations in four cities across the country, is another popular veterinary technician school in PA. Taking only 18 months to complete and conveniently located in Pittsburgh, this program prepares students to sit for the veterinary technician national exam (VTNE) in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The program consists of 63 credits including courses in animal behavior; veterinary nursing; animal husbandry; veterinary medical terminology; veterinary nutrition; veterinary anatomy and physiology; veterinary clinical pathology; pharmacology; radiology; and anesthesia. The Vet Tech Institute had a 71 percent passing rate on the VTNE among Pittsburgh graduates between 2018 and 2021.

Students in this program will also spend eight weeks on an externship to practice what they have learned and make industry contacts.

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $7,150 per semester

Wilson College

Wilson College in Philadelphia is another one of the available vet tech schools in PA. Wilson offers a four-year bachelor’s of science (BS) degree in veterinary technology. This program has three concentrations for students depending on their career aspirations: veterinary biology, veterinary business management, and Equi-Assist.

All concentrations offer core courses such as pharmacology; laboratory animal science; introduction to veterinary nursing; infectious diseases and diagnostics; veterinary anatomy and physiology; non-infectious diseases and nutrition; veterinary radiology; and more. Here are the courses within the unique concentrations:

  • The vet biology concentration has courses in biology, chemistry, microbiology, and college algebra.
  • The veterinary business management concentration has courses in financial accounting; biology; management; entrepreneurship and small business management; marketing and others.
  • The Equi-Assist concentration has courses in equine management; ground training the horse; equine health management; advanced equine techniques; equine clinical and surgical practices; and more.

While a BS program takes more time to complete than an associate’s degree, it can offer students more advanced instruction and may enhance one’s career prospects and chances of passing the VTNE. The first-time pass rate for graduates of Wilson College between 2018 and 2021 was 67 percent.

  • Location: Chambersburg, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $840 per credit

YTI Career Institute

Finally, the YTI Career Institute in York, PA, offers a 20-month associate in specialized technology degree. Graduates of this hybrid program will be proficient in nutrition, animal anatomy and physiology, husbandry, breeding, behavior, sanitation, nursing, handling, euthanasia, and necropsy for various animal species.

These skills will prepare them for employment as veterinary technicians in veterinary practices, research facilities, universities, zoos, pharmaceutical companies, or other areas where the skills of a veterinary technician are needed.

Courses include an introduction to veterinary technology; cellular biology; animal nutrition; veterinary pharmacology; veterinary parasitology; veterinary anesthesia; and more. The first-time pass rate for graduates of YTI graduates between 2018 and 2021 was 62.58 percent.

Students will be required to complete a clinical externship experience at a veterinary hospital of their choosing.

  • Location: Altoona, PA; Lancaster, PA; York, PA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 20 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $34,552

For information on distance-based vet tech programs, visit our online vet tech programs page.

Program Accreditation and Professional Certification for Vet Techs in Pennsylvania (PA)

Prospective veterinary technicians in Pennsylvania must seek out programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) which gauges institutional quality in the following areas:

  • Admissions
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Facilities
  • Library and resources
  • Outcomes assessment

Graduating from an AVMA-approved program makes students eligible to sit for the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE), one of the requirements to become a certified veterinary technician in the state of PA.

According to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, vet techs must be certified to practice in this state. Before becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT), prospective vet techs must have graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, completed an application, and passed the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE) with a score of at least 425.

There is no state certification or jurisprudence exam required. Additionally, this certification must be renewed every two years with 16 hours of continued education.

Overall, with high employment and salary prospects in the state of Pennsylvania, becoming a veterinary technician can be a promising career choice for animal lovers.

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.