How to Pick the Best Vet Tech Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Fulfilling your lifelong goal of working with and helping animals by enrolling in a vet tech college near Birmingham AL might at first seem like a challenging undertaking. After all, you have to find and enroll in a school that will furnish the proper training to ensure that you can succeed as a veterinary technician. But just how do you go about reviewing and comparing programs so that you can make the best choice? Many future students begin their due diligence process by searching for colleges that are close to their residences. After they have identified some area schools, they find out which ones have the most affordable tuition and focus on those. Although cost and location are important considerations when assessing vet tech schools, they are by no means the only significant ones when making your evaluations. Factors such as accreditation and internship programs should be looked into as well. The point is that there are questions you should be asking the vet technician programs you are looking at before you make a final choice. We have provided several within this article in order to help get you started, but before we discuss them we'll explore the different duties of veterinary technicians and the training alternatives available.
Veterinary Assistants, Technicians and Technologists
Among the initial decisions that you will have to make is if you desire to train as a vet assistant, technician or technologist. Part of your preference might be dependent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest in your training, but the primary determiner will probably be which specialization appeals to you the most. What technicians and assistants have in common is that they both work under the direct direction of a licensed and practicing veterinarian. And although there are many duties that they can carry out within the Birmingham AL veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe medications, diagnose conditions, or carry out surgical procedures. In those areas they can only provide support to a licensed veterinarian. There are technologists and technicians that work away from the standard veterinarian practice, such as for zoos, animal shelters or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the responsibilities and education requirements for each specialty.
- Vet Assistants in the majority of instances will have gone through a formal training program, either as an apprentice or intern in a vet clinic or hospital, or by completing a certificate program at a community college or vocational school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet technicians in the performance of their duties. Usually they are not associated with more complex tasks, for instance assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their typical duties may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during examinations.
- Vet Technicians receive more extensive training compared with assistants and usually acquire a 2 year Associate Degree, ideally from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a fashion the veterinarian equivalent of medical nurses, since their general job duty is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they vary from veterinary assistants is that they are included in more complicated duties, for example assisting with surgical procedures or providing medication. All states currently mandate that vet techs pass a credentialing examination for either registration, certification or licensing.
- Vet Technologists are similar to veterinary techs and essentially perform the same job functions. They are required to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which usually takes 4 years to complete. So the only real distinction between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist's higher level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more work options, higher salaries and possible management positions. They are also mandated to pass a credentialing exam for either licensing, registration or certification.
Vet technicians and technologists may specialize in areas such as internal medicine, anesthesia or emergency care. Some may acquire certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Birmingham AL laboratories or research facilities as well.
Online Veterinary Technician Schools Offered
An alternative that may be a solution for those with a busy lifestyle or who are working full-time while going to veterinary school is to enroll in an online training program. Since the classes are offered by means of the internet, students can attend on their own timetable wherever a computer is available. The curriculum is taught using multiple methods, including videos, slide shows and live streaming webinars. And since many vet tech and technologist degrees require clinical training, that part can typically be carried out as an internship or work study program at a local Birmingham AL veterinarian clinic or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in some instances lower the cost of your education. Tuition and supplementary expenses, for example for travel and study materials, can be cheaper compared to more conventional classroom programs. Just make certain that the program that you choose is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally certified accrediting organization. With the online courses and the practical training, everything is provided for a comprehensive education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more independent fashion, an online vet tech school may be the perfect choice for you.
Things to Ask Vet Tech Programs
By now you probably have determined which veterinary degree that you want to attain, and if you want to study online or attend a college on campus. Since there are a large number of veterinarian community colleges, vocational and trade schools in the Birmingham AL area as well as across the Country, you should ask some qualifying questions to help narrow down your list of alternatives. As we discussed in our introduction, many potential students start by focusing on location and tuition expense. But we have previously pointed out other essential qualifiers, which include internship programs and accreditation. And of course you want to choose a school that offers the degree and specialty that you are interested in. These and other factors are addressed in the list of questions that you should ask the vet tech colleges that you are considering.
Is the Vet Program Accredited? It's important that you verify that the veterinary technician program you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. 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 thorough review process that verifies you will receive a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, since many programs are not obtainable for non-accredited schools. And finally, having a certificate or degree from an accredited college is frequently a precondition for employment for a number of Birmingham AL area veterinarian clinics and hospitals.
What is the Program's Reputation? The veterinarian vocational school or college and program you select should have an excellent reputation within the veterinarian field. You can begin your due diligence by asking the schools you are looking at for references from the employers in their job assistance network. Other suggestions include looking on internet school rating 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 infractions regarding your targeted schools. As a final pointer, call some Birmingham AL veterinary clinics that you might want to work for after you receive your training. Ask what they think about your school choices. They might even suggest one or more schools not on your list.
Are there Internship Programs? The most effective approach to obtain clinical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a clinical setting. Find out if the programs you are considering have internship programs arranged with Birmingham AL veterinarians, vet hospitals or practices. Almost all veterinary medicine programs mandate clinical training and a large number furnish it through internships. Not only will the experience be valuable as far as the practical training, but an internship may also help establish connections in the local veterinarian community and aid in the search for employment after graduation.
Is there a Job Placement Program? Searching for a job after graduating from a vet tech program can be difficult without the help of a job placement program. To start with, find out what the graduation rates are for the programs you are considering. A lower rate may signify that the teachers were unqualified to teach the syllabus or that a number of students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the colleges have a job placement program and find out what their placement rates are. A high placement rate might indicate that the school has an exceptional reputation within the Birmingham AL veterinary community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate could signify 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 in size, you may receive little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Request from the Birmingham AL programs you are researching what their class student to teacher ratios are. You might also want to sit in on a few classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between students and teachers. Ask for feedback from students concerning the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the instructors and find out what their backgrounds are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the College Located? Of course, we previously talked about location, but there are several more points to consider on the subject. If you are planning to commute to your vet tech classes from your Birmingham AL home, you need to make certain that the driving time fits into your schedule. For example, driving during the weekend to investigate the route won't be the same as the commute during rush hour traffic, particularly if the college is located in or close by a large 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 increased tuition costs especially for state and community colleges. On the other hand, taking classes online may be an alternative that will provide you with more flexibility and decrease the necessity for travel.
Do the Classes Fit Your Schedule? And finally, it's important that you ascertain if the veterinary schools you are looking at offer class times that are sufficiently flexible to fit your schedule. For instance, a number of students continue working full time and can only go to classes on the weekends or in the evenings near Birmingham AL. Some may only be able to go to class in the morning or in the afternoon. Verify that the class times you need are available prior to enrolling. In addition, determine if you can make-up classes that you might miss as a result of work, sickness or family issues. You may find that an online college is the best way to fit your veterinary education into your busy life.
Choose the Best Birmingham Veterinary Technologist College
Enrolling in the ideal vet tech college is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career delivering care and treatment for pets and livestock. Future students considering veterinary technician schools must make their decision based on several key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists are employed in vet clinics, animal hospitals and animal shelters. They commonly take on administrative duties and support the veterinarian with the animal patients when needed. As we have discussed, it's very important that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This applies to vet tech online colleges as well. By asking the questions included in our checklist for assessing schools, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make your final choice. And by choosing the right school, you can reach your goal of becoming a veterinary technician in Birmingham Alabama.