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Veterinarian Technician October 2008 (Vol 29, No 10)

Salary and Skills Survey

by Marie Rosenthal

    With today's struggling economy, veterinary technicians may be wondering what they can do to increase their wages. Our recent Salary and Skills Survey showed that money and time spent on education and certification can be resources well spent.

    From the email survey of technicians who read Veterinary Technician, we found that technicians looking to increase their wages should consider pursuing additional education.

    "By expanding our knowledge base through education and credentialing, we make it clear to the veterinarian and the client that we are an essential member of the veterinary team. With that elevated role, comes more responsibility and ultimately a higher wage," said Marianne Tear, MS, LVT, chief technician editor of Veterinary Technician.

    The survey objectives were to identify what technicians do every day in their clinics, determine the benefits that technicians are offered and explore the impact of various factors on technician wages .

    Between Sept. 8 and Sept. 19, 2008, we asked our readers to take a 5-minute online survey; 1,179 technicians were included in the final analysis. (Outliers were defined using ± 2 standard deviations above and below the hourly wage and hours worked means and were then removed from the analysis.)

    The survey, conducted for us by MediMedia Research, found that technicians with graduate degrees receive the highest average hourly wage among all respondents. The average hourly salary of technicians with a high school diploma is $15.20; with an associate degree is $16.36; a bachelor degree, $16.40 and a graduate degree, $17.45. The survey found that 20.2% of respondents report that a high school diploma is the highest level of education achieved; 49.6% reported holding an associate degree, 27.1% reported holding a bachelor degree and 3.1% hold a graduate degree.

    The survey found that credentialing also helps drive salary upward; a greater percentage of credentialed technicians earn more than noncredentialed technicians. Regardless of education and credentialing, most technicians earn between $11 to $16 per hour. However, 39.4% of credentialed technicians earned between $17 and $22 per hour, while only 21.2% of noncredentialed technicians earn that wage; and 7.6% of credentialed technicians earn more than $22 per hour, versus 3.2% of noncredentialed technicians.

    Technicians who work in a referral/specialty or an emergency clinic tended to earn more than technicians who work in a private practice. The average hourly wage of technicians in a referral/specialty practice is $18.43, an emergency practice is $17.24 and a private practice is $15.32. Those who work in a corporate practice, such as Banfield, The Pet Hospital or VCA Animal Hospitals, also tend to earn slightly more than those in a private practice: $16.45 vs. $15.32. It is no surprise that technicians working in a shelter averaged the lowest earnings: $15.06.

    Technicians reported a range of duties, from drawing blood and taking radiographs to cleaning ears, cages and exam rooms. More than 60% of technicians reported the following responsibilities: drawing blood, placing IV catheters, taking radiographs, conducting in-house diagnostics, serving as surgical assistants, taking patient histories, administering anesthesia, cleaning cages, serving as examination room assistants, prepping and reading fecals, cleaning ears, cleaning exam rooms, doing telephone and in-clinic follow-up with clients, answering phones and making appointments and performing dental prophylaxis. Just more than 50% of technicians supervise staff, 41.9% meet with sales representatives and 17.9% perform ultrasounds.

    "It bodes well for our profession that increased education equals more responsibility and better wages. Veterinarians are recognizing the positive impact that a qualified, trained technician can have on the clinic's bottom line. With that realization comes the opportunity for more advancement and career satisfaction," said Tear, who is also program director of the technology program at Baker College of Clinton Township, Michigan.

    Although the samples are large, they are not probability samples and, as a result, may not be representative of all veterinary technicians. Therefore, the results may not be generalizable.

    NEXT: State News: Kansas (October 2008)
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