The population of Alaska may be sparse, but there is still a need for qualified individuals in the state to work as veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caregivers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 210 vet techs and 180 veterinary assistants or animal caregivers employed in the state, but those numbers are expected to rise by an average of 10 new positions per year. [Leer en español]
The average vet tech in Alaska earns an annual salary of $40,970, which is much higher than the national average for this career, likely because of the high cost of living in Alaska. The average annual salary for a vet assistant or animal caretaker in Alaska is $28,130. This is lower than the salary for a vet tech because working an assistant or caretaker requires less training and no licensing.
Although there are no education or licensing requirements for vet assistants in Alaska, vet techs must be licensed by the state. To become licensed, vet techs must submit an application and a $50 fee to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Applicants must have either completed an approved training curriculum or have received on-the-job training for two years with notarized proof. Applicants also must submit three letters of recommendation, including two from licensed veterinarians, and must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam as set by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
There are currently no veterinary technician programs in Alaska that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. There is a vet tech program at the Matanuska-Susitna College of the University of Alaska, Anchorage. It is not accredited, but the University hopes that it will be soon. Another option for anyone hoping to train as a vet tech in Alaska is to work with a veterinarian to earn licensing through on-the-job training. The University of Alaska, Anchorage also has a program in veterinary assisting.
Vet techs or vet assistants working in Alaska may be hired by private veterinary practices, animal hospitals, clinics, shelters or rescue organizations, including the following:
- Alaska Veterinary Clinic, Anchorage
- Diamond Animal Hospital, Anchorage
- Mt. McKinley Animal Hospital, Fairbanks
- Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center, Juneau
Vet techs working in Alaska can join the Alaska Veterinary Technician Association and the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, or NAVTA. The latter offers resources to its members, including continuing educational opportunities and group discounts.
College and University Listings
3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program
The University of Alaska Anchorage’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assisting program is offered at their campus in the city of Anchorage. This is a full, 4-year public college with 17,151 students, of which 95% are undergraduates. The University of Alaska Anchorage has institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually about $5,545 and for students from other states in the order of $17,177 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,440, although this will vary with the program. Students will learn the fundamentals required for the care, treatment and management of both the animals as patients and people as clients.
505 South Chandalar Drive, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-7500
Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program
The Certificate program at University of Alaska Fairbanks is offered at their campus in Fairbanks in Fairbanks North Star County, AK. Of the 8,620 students, about 13% are postgraduates. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually around $5,674 and for out-of-state students in the order of $17,303 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,400, depending on the program chosen. Students learn the fundamentals of good customer service, communication skills and the essentials of clerical responsibilities. They further learn the fundamental skills of proper handling, nutrition and nursing care for both large and small animals and are introduced to clinical patient management and laboratory procedures.
* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.