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Monday, September 26, 2022

West Virginia Legislature Blog

Interim Report: The Joint Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

The Joint Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development met on July 24, 2022 and heard a presentation on Veterinarian Technician Programs in the state.

Registered Veterinarian Technicians (Vet Tech) can do a lot of aspects of veterinarian services. They work to amplify the practice. There is a critical need for Vet Techs in the state. In West Virginia, there are 704 licensed veterinarians, but only 235 licensed veterinarian technicians. This is the equivalent of 1 nurse for every three doctors. The vet tech profession is expected to see 15 percent growth in the next 10 years. Vet techs make about $36,000 a year.

Veterinarians need well-trained Vet Techs to assist them in their practice. On average 90 students will go into a veterinarian program and only 20 will graduate. This leaves 70 individuals with an interest in the veterinarian field available to become a Vet Tech if they had the correct competencies.

In addition to private practice, vet techs can also work for the Department of Defense, the meat and poultry industry, state meat inspection, animal research facilities, the racing industry, and more.

Currently, there are 227 vet tech programs in the US and only 25 of them are 4-year bachelor’s programs. In WV, there are no bachelor’s programs. More than 90 percent of the vet tech curriculum is available at WVSU and WVU through other programs such as biology and animal care. It was suggested that students could take additional courses to meet all the competencies required to sit for the vet tech national exam. This is a cost-effective way to fill the gap in veterinarian care, prepare students for an open job market, and allow students to work through veterinarian school or other post-graduate programs.

To become a Vet Tech in WV, an individual must complete the needed competencies through coursework and take the jurisprudence exam to show an understanding of state veterinarian laws. If the individual was employed in another state, they must submit a letter from previous employers.

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