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How to Find the Best Vet Tech Program Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama vet technician calming nervous dogAchieving your long term dream of working with and helping pets by enrolling in a vet tech school near Athens AL could initially seem like a daunting task. After all, you must find and enroll in a program that will deliver the necessary training to ensure that you can be successful as a vet tech. But just how do you approach analyzing and comparing schools so that you can make the right choice? Many aspiring students launch their due diligence process by looking for colleges that are near their homes. Once they have identified some area colleges, they ascertain which ones have the lowest tuition and hone in on those. Although location and cost are significant factors when assessing veterinary technician schools, they are by no means the only critical ones when making your comparisons. Factors such as internship programs and accreditation should be looked into also. The main idea is that there are questions you should be asking the veterinary technician programs you are evaluating before you make an ultimate choice. We have presented several in this article to help get you started, but before we discuss them we'll explore the varied responsibilities of veterinary technicians and the training alternatives available.

Vet Assistants, Technicians and Technologists

Athens Alabama veterinary technician checking kittens

Among the initial decisions that you will have to make is if you desire to train as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your determination might be based on the amount of time and money that you have to invest in your education, but the principal determiner will probably be which specialty appeals to you the most. What technicians and assistants have in common is that they all work under the direct guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And although there are many functions that they can perform within the Athens AL veterinary clinic or hospital, they can't prescribe medications, diagnose conditions, or perform surgical procedures. In those areas they may only furnish assistance to a licensed vet. There are technologists and technicians that work away from the conventional veterinarian practice, such as for animal shelters, zoos or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the job functions and education prerequisites for each specialization.

  • Vet Assistants in most cases will have gone through a structured training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a vet clinic or hospital, or by graduating from a certificate program at a community college or trade school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet techs in the performance of their duties. Usually they are not associated with more involved activities, for example assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their typical functions may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or handling pets during exams.
  • Vet Technicians get more advanced training compared to assistants and generally obtain 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 duty is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they vary from veterinary assistants is that they are involved in more complex tasks, such as assisting with surgeries or providing medicine. All states currently require veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either registration, certification or licensing.
  • Vet Technologists are similar to veterinary technicians and for the most part carry out the same job functions. They are required to attain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which typically takes four years. So the main difference between a vet technologist and a technician 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 also required to pass a credentialing exam for either certification, registration or licensing.

Veterinary technicians and technologists may specialize in areas such as internal medicine, anesthesia or urgent care. Some may acquire certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in  Athens AL labs or research facilities also.

Veterinary Technician Online Programs Offered

Athens Alabama pup wearing surgical coneAn alternative that may make sense for those with a busy lifestyle or who are working full time while going to veterinarian school is to enroll in an online training program. Because the classes are made available via the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The curriculum is taught using multiple methods, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since the majority of veterinary technician and technologist degrees require clinical training, that segment can normally be completed as an internship or work study program at a local Athens AL veterinarian practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in some instances decrease the cost of your education. Tuition and supplementary costs, such as for traveling and study materials, can be cheaper compared to more conventional classroom courses. Just confirm that the program that you select is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally certified accrediting agency. With the online classes and the practical training, everything is provided for a complete education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more self-reliant fashion, an online veterinary technician school may be the right choice for you.

Things to Ask Veterinary Technician Programs

By now you probably have selected which veterinary credential that you wish to obtain, and if you intend to study online or attend a college on campus. Since there are an abundance of vet community colleges, vocational and technical schools in the Athens AL area and across the Country, you need to ask some relevant questions to help narrow down your list of alternatives. As we pointed out in our introduction, many potential students start by concentrating on location and tuition expense. But we have previously touched on other important qualifiers, such as internship programs and accreditation. And obviously you need to select a college that offers the specialty and degree that you are interested in. These and other qualifications are reviewed in the checklist of questions that you should ask the vet tech programs that you are considering.

Is the Veterinary College Accredited?  It's important that you verify that the vet tech program you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization. As earlier stated, one of the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Trade schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have gone through a rigorous review process that verifies you will receive a quality education. Also, accreditation is necessary if you are applying for a student loan or financial assistance, since a large number of programs are not obtainable for non-accredited programs. Last, having a degree or certificate from an accredited school is in many cases a requirement for employment for many Athens AL area vet practices and hospitals.

What is the Program's Reputation?  The vet college or trade school and program you select should have an excellent reputation within the vet community. You can initiate your due diligence by asking the colleges you are interested in for testimonials from the employers in their job placement network. Other pointers include checking with internet school rating websites and contacting the school's accrediting organizations as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing department if there have been any grievances or infractions relating to your targeted schools. As a final suggestion, phone some Athens AL vet clinics that you may wish to work for after you receive your training. Find out what they think about your school selections. They may even recommend some colleges not on your list.

Are Internships Offered?  The most effective approach to obtain clinical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a clinical setting. Ask if the programs you are considering have internship programs established with Athens AL veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. Almost all veterinary medicine programs mandate clinical training and a large number furnish it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be valuable regarding the clinical training, but an internship may also help develop connections in the local vet community and assist in the search for a job after graduation.

Is there a Job Placement Program?  Searching for a job after graduating from a vet tech college can be challenging without the help of a job placement program. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the programs you are evaluating. A low rate could indicate that the teachers were ineffective at teaching the course of study or that a number of students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the schools have a job placement program and find out what their placement rates are. A higher placement rate might mean that the college has an exceptional reputation within the Athens AL vet community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A low rate may indicate that the training is not highly thought of by employers or that the job placement program is a failure at placing students.

How Big are the Classes?  If the classes are larger, you probably will get little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Request from the Athens AL programs you are looking at what their class teacher to student ratios are. You might also decide to participate in a couple of classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between instructors and students. Get feedback from students concerning the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the instructors and find out what their backgrounds are as well as their approaches to teaching.

Where is the School Located?  Of course, we previously discussed location, but there are several more points to consider on the subject. If you are planning to drive to your veterinary technician classes from your Athens AL home, you have to confirm that the commuting time fits into your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to investigate the route won't be the same as the commute during rush hour traffic, especially if the school is located near or in a larger city. Also, if you do decide to enroll in a school in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be higher tuition fees particularly for community and state colleges. Of course attending online classes could be an option that will provide you with more flexibility and minimize the need for travel.

Is the Class Schedule Flexible?  And finally, it's imperative that you find out if the veterinary colleges you are looking at offer class times flexible enough to fit your schedule. For instance, a number of students continue working full time and can only attend classes on the weekends or at night near Athens AL. Others may only be able to attend class in the morning or later in the afternoon. Confirm that the class times you require are offered prior to enrolling. Also, find out if you can make-up classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities. You might discover that an online program is the ideal solution to fit your veterinary training into your busy life.

Find Out More About Athens Vet Tech Schools Online

Choose the Right Athens Veterinary Technologist College

Selecting the right vet tech college is a critical first step to beginning a gratifying career providing care and treatment for animals. Potential students thinking about veterinary technician programs must make their selection based on multiple key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in vet clinics, animal hospitals and animal shelters. They commonly handle administrative duties and assist the veterinarian with the animals when needed. As we have discussed, it's essential that you decide on a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an outstanding reputation within the field. This goes for online vet tech schools as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for evaluating schools, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make your final selection. And by selecting the ideal program, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a vet tech in Athens Alabama.


 

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