Veterinary Technician Degree Program
How to Pick the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
Fulfilling your long term goal of working with and caring for animals by enrolling in a veterinary technician program near Birmingham AL may at first seem like a daunting undertaking. After all, you need to locate and enroll in a school that will provide the appropriate training so that you can succeed as a vet tech. But just how do you approach assessing and comparing schools so that you can make the best choice? Many future students begin their due diligence process by looking for colleges that are close to their residences. Once they have identified some local schools, they find out which ones have the lowest tuition and focus on those. Although location and expense are important considerations when comparing vet tech schools, they are by no means the only significant ones when making your comparisons. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. The main point is that before making a selection, you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the programs you are evaluating. We have provided several within this article to help get you started, but before we review them we'll discuss the varied duties of vet techs and the training alternatives offered.
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Vet Technician Training Options
One of the first decisions that you will have to make is if you plan to train as a veterinary assistant, technician or technologist. Part of your preference might be based on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your education, but the main determiner will probably be which specialization interests you the most. What techs and assistants share in common is that they each work under the direct guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And although there are numerous jobs that they can carry out within the Birmingham AL veterinary clinic or hospital, they can't prescribe medicines, diagnose ailments, or carry out surgeries. In those areas they can only provide assistance to a licensed veterinarian. There are technicians and technologists that work exclusive of the conventional veterinarian practice, such as for zoos, animal shelters or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the job functions and education requirements for each specialty.
- Vet Assistants in almost all cases will have completed a structured training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a vet clinic or hospital, or by finishing a certificate program at a vocational school or community college. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the vets and vet techs in the performance of their duties. Normally they are not involved with more involved activities, for instance assisting with surgeries. A few of their normal responsibilities may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or handling pets during examinations.
- Vet Technicians go through more advanced training in contrast to assistants and typically acquire a two 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 function is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they differ from vet assistants is that they are included in more complicated duties, such as assisting with surgeries or administering medication. All states presently require veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either certification, registration or licensing.
- Vet Technologists are comparable to veterinary techs and for the most part carry out the same job functions. They are required to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which normally takes four 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 career opportunities, higher salaries and potential management positions. They are additionally required to pass a credentialing exam for either licensing, registration or certification.
Veterinary techs and technologists can specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or urgent care. Many may receive certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Birmingham AL labs or research facilities as well.
Questions to Ask Vet Tech Colleges
At this point you probably have selected which veterinary credential that you wish to attain, and if you want to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are a large number of veterinarian community colleges, vocational and technical schools in the Birmingham AL area as well as across the Country, you need to ask some important questions to help fine tune your list of options. As we discussed in our opening, many prospective students start by focusing on location and tuition expense. But we have previously pointed out other important qualifiers, for instance accreditation and internship programs. And naturally you want to select a school that offers the specialty and degree that you want to earn. These and other factors are addressed in the checklist of questions that you should ask the veterinary technician schools that you are reviewing.
Is the Veterinary College Accredited? It's important that you verify that the vet tech school you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. 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 review process that confirms you will obtain a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are requesting a student loan or financial assistance, since many programs are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges. And finally, having a certificate or degree from an accredited school is often a precondition for employment for many Birmingham AL area veterinarian practices and hospitals.
What is the School's Reputation? The veterinary vocational school or college and program you enroll in should have an exceptional reputation within the veterinarian field. You can initiate your due diligence by asking the colleges you are looking at for references from the employers in their job placement network. Other suggestions include checking with internet school ranking websites and checking with the school's accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing authority if there have been any grievances or infractions regarding your targeted schools. As a final recommendation, call some Birmingham AL vet clinics that you might want to work for after you go through your training. Ask what they think about your school selections. They might even suggest some colleges not on your list.
Are there Internship Programs? The best way to get clinical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a clinical environment. Ask if the colleges you are considering have internship programs set up with Birmingham AL veterinarians, vet practices or hospitals. The majority of veterinary medicine programs mandate practical training and a large number provide it by means of internships. Not only will the experience be beneficial as far as the practical training, but an internship can also help build associations in the local veterinarian community and assist in the search for a position after graduation.
Is there a Job Assistance Program? Searching for a job after graduating from a vet tech college may be challenging without the assistance of a job placement program. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the colleges you are reviewing. A low rate could signify that the instructors were unqualified to teach the syllabus or that some students were unhappy with the program and quit. Next, verify that the colleges have a job assistance program and find out what their placement rates are. A higher placement rate could mean that the program has an outstanding reputation within the Birmingham AL veterinarian community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate might signify that the training is not highly regarded by employers or that the job placement program is ineffective at placing students.
How Big are the Classes? If the classes are larger in size, you probably will receive little or no one-on-one instruction from the teachers. Solicit from the Birmingham AL programs you are looking at what their class student to teacher ratios are. You may also decide to attend a couple of classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between students and instructors. Get evaluations from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the instructors and determine what their backgrounds are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the College Located? Yes, we already talked about location, but there are a few more points to consider on the topic. If you are going to commute to your veterinary technician classes from your Birmingham AL home, you must confirm that the driving time is compatible with your schedule. For example, driving during the weekend to investigate the route won't be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, particularly if the school is located near or in a large city. In addition, if you do decide to attend a school in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be higher tuition charges particularly for community and state colleges. On the other hand, taking online classes may be an option that will give you more flexibility and minimize the need for travel.
Do the Classes Fit Your Schedule? And finally, it's essential that you determine if the veterinarian colleges you are exploring offer class times flexible enough to fit your schedule. For example, many 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 attend classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you need are offered before enrolling. Also, determine if you can make-up classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities. You might discover that an online school is the ideal solution to fit your vet training into your hectic life.
Chosse the Best Birmingham Vet Technologist Program
Enrolling in the right veterinary technician school is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career providing care and treatment for pets and livestock. Students looking into vet tech programs must make their selection based on multiple key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists are employed in animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and animal shelters. They usually take on administrative tasks and support the veterinarian with the animals when needed. As we have covered, it's very important that you decide on a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the profession. This applies to vet tech online colleges as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for reviewing schools, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can make your final selection. And by choosing the right program, you can reach your goal of becoming a vet tech in Birmingham Alabama.