A vet tech completes either a two-year veterinary technician program or a four-year veterinary technologist program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a vet tech assists a veterinarian in the same way a nurse assists a doctor. Although both types of vet techs perform similar work, veterinary technologists have additional employment opportunities in advanced research.
General Salary Outlook
Salary data from the BLS indicates that the median annual salary of a vet tech was $28,900 as of May 2008. Nationally, the middle half of vet techs earned an annual salary between $23,580 and $34,960. The lowest 10 percent of earners made less than $19,770 and the highest 10 percent of owners made at least $41,490.
An October 2010 PayScale salary survey of 4,291 vet techs found that median annual salary for vet techs is between $22,821 and $33,664.
Depending on the employer, vet techs might work overtime and receive bonuses and profit sharing. According to the October 2010 PayScale survey, overtime pay ranges between $15.81 and $23.85 per hour. In addition, bonuses accounted for about $101.94 to $509 every year while proceeds from profit sharing vary between $204.82 and $1,160.
Salary by Employer
Another variant in annual salary is the type of employer in which a vet tech works. According to an October 2010 survey of 3,696 vet techs, universities, local and state government agencies and pay the highest salaries. Vet techs working in colleges or universities earn between $14.32 and $19.03 per hour. Local and state government agencies pay a median hourly rate between $12.03 and $15.54. In addition, contract vet techs have the highest hourly rate estimated to range between $15.50 and $23.49 per hour.
Salary by City
Location is also an important factor that affects annual salaries for vet techs. According to data from PayScale, vet techs in Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles, California have higher hourly wage ranges than other major cities. The median hourly wage in Seattle ranges between $13.82 and $18.05, while the range in Los Angeles is from $12.09 to $19.86. Median hourly wages in Houston, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago, Illinois are similar, ranging between $11.49 and $17.32. Data also indicates Austin, Texas, has the lowest hourly wage for vet techs, which ranges from $10.36 to $15.51.
Salary by Experience
Experience on the job is an important factor. According to PayScale, an October 2010 survey found that vet techs with the least experience earned the lowest salaries as with most other professions. Those with less than one year of experience earned a median hourly rate between $8.80 and $11.94. A vet tech with one to four years of experience can expect to earn between $9.85 to $13.24 an hour while five to nine years increases hourly to pay to a range between $11.99 and $15.92. Senior vet techs with more than years of experience earn a median hourly wage starting at $13.39 and as high as $18.65.