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How to Pick the Right Vet Tech School Near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama vet technician holding anxious dogFulfilling your long term goal of working with and caring for pets by enrolling in a vet tech college near Atmore AL could initially feel like a daunting undertaking. After all, you have to find and enroll in a program that will furnish the appropriate training to ensure that you can succeed as a vet tech. But just how do you go about assessing and comparing schools so that you can make the proper selection? Many aspiring students start their due diligence process by looking for colleges that are close to their residences. After they have found some nearby colleges, they determine which ones have the lowest tuition and hone in on those. Although expense and location are significant factors when assessing vet tech schools, they are by no means the only important ones when making your assessments. Factors such as internship programs and accreditation need to be considered also. The point is that there are questions you should be asking the vet tech programs you are considering before you make a final choice. We have furnished several within this article in order to help get you started, but before we review them we'll discuss the various roles of veterinary technicians and the training options available.

Vet Assistants, Technicians and Technologists

Atmore Alabama vet tech examining kittens

One of the first decisions that you will need to make is if you want to train as a vet assistant, technician or technologist. Part of your decision might be dependent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest in your training, but the main determiner will probably be which specialization appeals to you the most. What techs and assistants have in common is that they all work under the direct guidance of a licensed and practicing veterinarian. And although there are many functions that they can perform within the Atmore AL veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe drugs, diagnose ailments, or perform surgical procedures. In those areas they can only provide assistance to a licensed veterinarian. There are technicians and technologists that work outside of the standard vet practice, for example for zoos, animal shelters or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the responsibilities and training prerequisites for each position.

  • Vet Assistants in most cases will have undergone a formal training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a practice, or by finishing a certificate program at a community college or vocational school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet techs in the performance of their duties. Normally they are not associated with more complicated undertakings, for example assisting with surgeries. Some of their usual duties may include working at the front desk, cleaning and preparing examination rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during exams.
  • Vet Technicians undergo more advanced training compared to assistants and normally obtain a two year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a sense the veterinary counterparts of medical nurses, since their basic job function is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they differ from veterinary assistants is that they are included in more complicated tasks, for example assisting with surgeries or administering medicine. All states currently mandate that veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either registration, certification or licensing.
  • Vet Technologists are comparable to veterinary technicians and essentially perform the same work functions. They are required to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which typically requires 4 years. So the main distinction between a vet technician and a technologist is the technologist's more advanced level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more career options, higher salaries and potential management positions. They are also required to pass a credentialing examination for either licensing, registration or certification.

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

Online Veterinary Technician Schools Offered

Atmore Alabama pup with surgical coneAn alternative that may be a solution for those with a hectic lifestyle or who are working full-time while going to veterinary college is to enroll in an online program. Because the classes are provided via the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The curriculum is taught using multiple venues, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since the majority of veterinary tech and technologist degrees require practical training, that segment can typically be carried out as an internship or work study program at a local Atmore AL veterinarian clinic or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in many instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and supplementary costs, for example for traveling and study materials, can be cheaper compared to more standard classroom courses. Just make certain that the online school that you select is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting organization. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything is included for a complete education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more independent manner, an online vet tech program may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Vet Tech Colleges

At this point you probably have decided on which veterinary degree that you would like to obtain, and if you want to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are a large number of veterinary community colleges, trade and vocational schools in the Atmore AL area as well as across the Country, you must ask some qualifying questions in order to fine tune your list of options. As we mentioned in our introduction, many future students start by prioritizing location and tuition expense. But we have previously touched on other important qualifiers, such as accreditation and internship programs. And obviously you need to enroll in a school that offers the degree and specialty that you would like to earn. These and other qualifications are reviewed in the checklist of questions that you need to ask the veterinary technician programs that you are looking at.

Is the Veterinary School Accredited?  It's essential that you verify that the veterinary technician program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization. As previously discussed, one of the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Trade schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have undergone a thorough screening process that ensures you will obtain a superior education. Also, accreditation is important if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, since numerous programs are not offered for non-accredited schools. And finally, having a degree or certificate from an accredited program is in many cases a precondition for employment for many Atmore AL area vet practices and hospitals.

What is the Program's Reputation?  The veterinarian trade school or college and program you choose should have an excellent reputation within the veterinary field. You can start your due diligence by asking the schools you are looking at for references from the employers in their job assistance network. Other pointers include checking with internet school ranking websites and contacting the school's accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing authority if there have been any grievances or violations involving your targeted schools. As a final suggestion, call some Atmore AL veterinary clinics that you may want to work for after you get your training. Find out what they think of your school selections. They might even recommend some programs not on your list.

Are Internships Offered?  The most effective way to obtain practical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a professional environment. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have internship programs set up with Atmore AL veterinarians, vet hospitals or clinics. Most veterinary medicine programs mandate clinical training and a large number provide it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be beneficial regarding the practical training, but an internship can also help develop associations in the local veterinarian community and aid in the search for employment after graduation.

Is Job Placement Provided?  Searching for a job after graduating from a veterinary technician program may be challenging without the assistance of a job placement program. To start with, find out what the graduation rates are for the colleges you are considering. A low rate could suggest that the teachers were unqualified to teach the syllabus or that some students were disappointed with the program and quit. Next, check that the schools have a job assistance program and ask what their placement rates are. A high placement rate could indicate that the program has an excellent reputation within the Atmore AL veterinary community and has a substantial network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate could indicate that the training is not highly thought of by employers or that the job placement program is ineffective at placing students.

How Large are the Classes?  If the classes are larger, you most likely will get little or no one-on-one instruction from the teachers. Solicit from the Atmore AL programs you are looking at what their class student to teacher ratios are. You might also decide to attend a few classes (if practical) to observe the interaction between instructors and students. Ask for feedback from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, speak with the instructors and determine what their qualifications are as well as their approaches to teaching.

Where is the School Located?  Of course, we already discussed location, but there are a few more points to make on the subject. If you are going to drive to your vet tech classes from your Atmore AL home, you need to make sure 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 college is located close by or within 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. Of course taking classes online might be an alternative that will provide you with more flexibility and minimize the need for travel.

Is the Class Schedule Flexible?  And last, it's imperative that you ascertain if the veterinarian colleges you are looking at offer class times flexible enough to accommodate your schedule. For instance, a number of students continue to work full time and can only go to classes on the weekends or in the evenings near Atmore AL. Others may only be able to go to classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you need are available prior to enrolling. In addition, find out if you can make up classes that you might miss due to sickness, work or family issues. You might find that an online college is the best way to fit your vet education into your active life.

Find Out More About Atmore Vet Technologist Schools

Choose the Right Atmore Veterinary Technologist Program

Choosing the right vet tech program is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career delivering treatment and care for pets and livestock. Potential students thinking about veterinary technician colleges must make their decision based on a number of key factors. Veterinary technicians and technologists are employed in animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and animal shelters. They typically handle administrative tasks and support the veterinarian with the animals when needed. As we have covered, it's essential that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the profession. This goes for vet tech online schools as well. By asking the questions included in our checklist for assessing schools, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives so that you can make your final decision. And by picking the best college, you can reach your goal of becoming a veterinary technician in Atmore Alabama.


 

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