Vet tech program wants to help fill vet tech shortage
CMC Spring Valley vet tech farm hosts its annual open house
By Mike McKibbin
Colorado Mountain College
Oct. 18, 2023 – When you take your pet to a veterinary clinic, the first person to take a look at your beloved is usually a veterinarian technician.
However, a nationwide shortage of certified vet techs is projected to reach 133,000 by 2030. Although vet clinics might employ veterinary assistants to help provide care, many tasks are legally restricted to certified vet techs.
Colorado Mountain College’s vet tech program at the Spring Valley campus hopes their annual open house will peak interest and increase enrollment to help meet current and future needs.
Vet techs must get formal training in required knowledge and skills and graduate from an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited program – such as CMC’s – with an associate degree in veterinary technology. The outlook from 2022 to 2032 calls for a 21% increase in need for vet techs (much faster than average) and an additional 25,200 vet tech jobs in those 10 years.
Lindsay Lewark is a CMC vet tech 2020 graduate and works at Willits Veterinary Hospital in Basalt and Glenwood Springs. Lewark explained she went back to school at 38, had managerial experience and was already settled in the area.
Lewark said there is a definite shortage of qualified vet techs. She said Willits uses its corporate recruiting department and job postings to seek applicants. They’ve also raised starting wages, she said. Willits has four certified vet techs and four more on-the-job trained vet techs. Certified vet techs are paid slightly more than non-certified, Lewark said.
CMC vet tech program and facilities director Leslie Rockey said the program tries to help local clinics find qualified vet techs. Students spend the last six weeks of their final year working at a clinic they choose through an externship.
“Many of the students stay local and work at a practice here in the valley,” Rockey said. “Since the externship is essentially free work for the clinic and a working interview for both the student and the clinic, most of our students are offered a job at the end of the externship.”
Rockey also noted vet techs are now required to register with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs. That gives qualified vet techs the right to use “credentialed” with their title.
“We hope the regulation, in time, will increase the value of credentialed veterinary technicians, which in turn will help increase salaries,” she added.
CMC’s vet tech open house is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Spring Valley campus, 3000 County Road 114, south of Glenwood Springs.
Vet tech faculty, staff and students will be available to answer questions. Halloween costumes are welcome, and a scavenger hunt, candy, photo booth and giveaways, and many animals will be available for meeting and greeting.
For more information, contact Leslie Rockey at 970-947-8238.