Animal hospitals and veterinary offices not only employ veterinarians, but also nurses or veterinary technicians. Demand for veterinary nurses is expected to grow by more than 38 percent through 2018. These professionals can work in private practices, animal hospitals, universities and other environments and perform medical tests, assist in procedures, keep track of records, and provide other nursing-related services to help animals. The salary scale for veterinary nurses varies depending on several factors.
Requirements to become a veterinary nurse or technician can vary depending on the location and employer, but in general most must complete a two-year program or associate degree from a college or school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Studies during these courses as well as in high school should be concentrated in science, biology, and math. Experience, courses, or internships in a clinical or laboratory setting will also be beneficial when job hunting. Following study or degree completion, most veterinary nurses and technicians are required to pass a certification exam, most commonly the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam.
Cost of living, the affluence of an area, or other location-based factors may influence the salary scale for veterinary nurses and technicians. In Texas, rent and other living expenses are relatively low, and the average salary range for veterinary technicians is $20,693 to $33,268 a year as of December 2010, according to PayScale. However, in New York, known for higher-than-average rent prices and cost of living, a similar technician can expect to earn between $28,000 and $42,555 annually. The national average income of a veterinary technician in the United States is between $22,820 and $33,454. On an hourly rate, this equates to $10.63 to $15.35 an hour.
As with most professions, veterinary technicians will earn more as they gain experience in the field. When starting a career, a veterinary nurse may average from $20,108 to $30,888 a year as of December 2010, according to PayScale. After five years, that number increases significantly, ranging from $25,565 to $39,550. Those who have the most experience in the field -- 20 years or more -- can expect to bring in from $30,544 to $43,322 annually.
Benefits and Perks
Other benefits of the job may not be seen on the paycheck but can add to the overall compensation package for a veterinary nurse. Employer-sponsored health insurance, paid vacation, retirement benefits and other perks can provide an income up to 34.4 percent higher than just the average base salary, bringing the compensation package to around $40,861 a year, according to Jobs.aol.com as of Oct. 2010.