Veterinary Technician School
How to Choose the Right One Near Birmingham Alabama
Fulfilling your lifelong goal of working with and helping pets by enrolling in a vet tech college near Birmingham AL could initially feel like a daunting undertaking. But to be successful as a working veterinary technician, you need to first locate and finally enroll in a school that will provide the required education and training. And so that you pick the best one you must research and compare all of the schools you have placed on your short list. Many potential students start their due diligence process by searching for schools that are near their homes. When they have identified some area schools, they determine which ones have the lowest tuition and focus on those. Although cost and location are significant concerns when comparing vet tech programs, they are by no means the only significant ones when making your assessments. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. The main idea is that there are questions you should be asking the vet technician schools you are considering before you make a final decision. We have presented several within this article to help get you started, but before we discuss them we'll explore the varied duties of veterinary technicians and the training alternatives available.
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Vet Tech Degree Options
One of the initial decisions that you will have to make is if you wish to train as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your decision might be dependent on the amount of time and money that you have to devote to your education, but the main determiner will probably be which specialty interests you the most. What techs and assistants have in common is that they all work under the immediate supervision of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And while there are many jobs that they can carry out within the Birmingham AL veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe medications, diagnose health issues, or perform surgical procedures. In those areas they may only furnish assistance to a licensed vet. There are technicians and technologists that work away from the conventional vet practice, such as for animal shelters, zoos or police departments. Let's take a look at the job functions and training requirements for each specialty.
- Vet Assistants in most cases will have undergone a formal training program, either as an apprentice or intern in a vet clinic or hospital, or by completing a certificate program at a trade school or community college. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet technicians in the completion of their duties. Normally they are not involved with more involved undertakings, for instance assisting with surgeries. Some of their typical duties may include working at the front desk, cleaning and preparing exam rooms and equipment, or handling pets during examinations.
- Vet Technicians get more advanced training compared to assistants and generally earn a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a sense the veterinary equivalent of medical nurses, since their basic job duty is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they stand apart from vet assistants is that they are engaged in more involved tasks, for example assisting with surgeries or administering medicine. All states currently mandate that vet technicians pass a credentialing examination for either licensing, registration or certification.
- Vet Technologists are similar to veterinary techs and essentially carry out the same work functions. They are mandated to earn a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which usually takes 4 years. So the only real difference between a vet technician and a technologist is the technologist's more advanced level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more work opportunities, increased salaries and possible management positions. They are additionally required to pass a credentialing exam for either certification, registration or licensing.
Veterinary technicians and technologists can specialize in areas such as internal medicine, anesthesia or urgent care. A number may obtain certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Birmingham AL laboratories or research facilities also.
What to Ask Veterinary Technician Programs
By now you probably have determined which veterinary credential that you wish to attain, and if you intend to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are a large number of veterinary community colleges, vocational and technical schools in the Birmingham AL area as well as across the Country, you need to ask some relevant questions in order to narrow down your list of alternatives. As we pointed out in our opening, many potential students start by focusing on location and the cost of tuition. But we have previously touched on other important qualifiers, for instance internship programs and accreditation. And naturally you need to enroll in a college that offers the specialty and degree that you would like to earn. These and other qualifications are reviewed in the list of questions that you need to ask the vet tech colleges that you are looking at.
Is the Veterinary Program Accredited? It's essential that you make sure that the veterinary technician program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization. As previously discussed, one of the most highly respected is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have undergone a rigorous screening process that confirms you will receive a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, since a large number of programs are not available for non-accredited colleges. Last, having a degree or certificate from an accredited school is in many cases a prerequisite for employment for many Birmingham AL area veterinary practices and hospitals.
What is the School's Reputation? The veterinary college or vocational school and program you enroll in should have an excellent reputation within the vet community. You can begin your due diligence by asking the schools you are interested in for endorsements from the employers in their job placement network. Other pointers include checking with internet school ranking websites and speaking with the school's accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing department if there have been any complaints or violations relating to your targeted schools. As a final suggestion, contact some Birmingham AL vet clinics that you might wish to work for after you go through your training. Find out what they think about your school selections. They might even recommend one or more schools not on your list.
Are Internships Offered? The best means to get clinical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a medical environment. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have internship programs established with Birmingham AL veterinarians, vet hospitals or practices. The majority of veterinary medicine programs require practical training and many furnish it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be invaluable regarding the practical training, but an internship may also help build relationships in the local veterinary community and aid in the search for a position after graduation.
Is there a Job Assistance Program? Getting a job after graduating from a veterinary technician school may be challenging without the help of a job placement program. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the programs you are evaluating. A lower rate could signify that the instructors were ineffective at teaching the course of study or that a number of students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the colleges have a job assistance program and find out what their placement rates are. A higher placement rate could mean that the college has an outstanding reputation within the Birmingham AL veterinary community and has a substantial network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate might indicate that the training is not well regarded by employers or that the job placement program is ineffective at placing students.
How Big are the Classes? If the classes are larger, you most likely will receive little or no one-on-one instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Birmingham AL schools you are researching what their class student to teacher ratios are. You may also decide to attend a few classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between teachers and students. Get feedback from students concerning the quality of instruction. Also, speak with the instructors and find out what their qualifications are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the College Located? Yes, we previously covered location, but there are a couple of more points to consider on the subject. If you are planning to drive to your veterinary technician classes from your Birmingham AL home, you must make sure that the commuting time is compatible with your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to check out the route won't be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, particularly if the college is located in or near a large city. In addition, if you do choose to enroll in a college in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be increased tuition charges especially for community and state colleges. On the other hand, attending online classes may be an option that will give you more flexibility and decrease the need for travel.
Is the Class Schedule Flexible? And finally, it's imperative that you determine if the veterinarian programs you are evaluating offer class times that are sufficiently flexible to fit your schedule. For example, a number of students continue working full time and can only go to classes on the weekends or in the evenings near Birmingham AL. Others might only be able to go to classes in the morning or later in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you require are available before enrolling. Also, determine if you can make up classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies. You might discover that an online program is the best solution to fit your vet education into your busy life.
Enroll in the Right Birmingham Veterinary Technologist College
Picking the appropriate veterinary technician school is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career providing treatment and care for animals. Potential students considering veterinary technician programs must make their selection based on several key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists are employed in animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and animal shelters. They usually handle administrative responsibilities and support the veterinarian with the animal patients when needed. As we have covered, it's essential that you decide on a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This goes for online vet tech colleges as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for assessing schools, you will be able to reduce your options so that you can make your final selection. And by choosing the right college, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a vet tech in Birmingham Alabama.