How to Pick the Right Veterinary Technician Training Program Near Fairfield Alabama
Realizing your long term dream of working with and caring for animals by enrolling in a veterinary technician school near Fairfield AL may initially seem like a daunting task. After all, you must locate and enroll in a college that will provide the proper training so that you can be successful as a veterinary technician. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing programs so that you can make the ideal choice? Many aspiring students begin their due diligence process by searching for colleges that are close to their residences. After they have located some local colleges, they find out which ones have the most affordable tuition and hone in on those. Although location and cost are significant concerns when evaluating vet tech schools, they are not the only significant ones when making your evaluations. Qualifiers such as internship programs and accreditation need to be considered also. The main idea is that there are questions you should be asking the vet technician programs you are reviewing before you make a final selection. We have furnished several in this article in order to help get you started, but before we discuss them we'll explore the varied responsibilities of vet techs and the training options offered.
Veterinary Assistants, Technicians and Technologists
One of the initial decisions that you will need to make is whether you wish to train as a veterinary 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 primary factor will probably be which specialty interests you the most. What techs and assistants share in common is that they both work under the immediate guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And even though there are a number of duties that they can perform within the Fairfield AL veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe medicines, diagnose conditions, or carry out surgical procedures. In those areas they may only provide assistance to a licensed vet. There are technicians and technologists that work outside of the standard veterinarian practice, such as for zoos, animal shelters or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the job functions and education prerequisites for each specialty.
- Vet Assistants in almost all cases will have completed a structured 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 execution of their duties. Generally they are not involved with more complicated undertakings, for instance assisting with surgeries. Some of their normal functions may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during examinations.
- Vet Technicians undergo more extensive training compared to assistants and generally obtain a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a fashion the veterinary counterparts of medical nurses, since their fundamental job function is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they vary from vet assistants is that they are included in more involved tasks, for example assisting with surgeries or administering medicine. All states currently mandate that vet techs pass a credentialing exam for either licensing, registration or certification.
- Vet Technologists are similar to vet technicians and basically perform the same job functions. They are mandated to earn a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which typically requires four years. Therefore the only real distinction 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 also required to pass a credentialing examination for either certification, registration or licensing.
Vet techs and technologists can specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or emergency care. Some may obtain certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Fairfield AL labs or research facilities as well.
Vet Tech Online Programs Offered
An alternative that might be a solution for those with a hectic schedule or who are working full time while attending vet college is to enroll in an online program. Since the classes are made available via the internet, students can attend on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The course of study is taught using various methods, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since many veterinary technician and technologist degrees require practical training, that part can usually be fulfilled as an internship or work study program at a local Fairfield AL veterinarian clinic or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in some instances lower the cost of your education. Tuition and ancillary expenditures, for example for travel and study materials, may be more affordable compared to more conventional classroom programs. Just make certain that the program that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally certified accrediting agency. With the online classes and the practical training, everything is included for a complete education. So if you are dedicated enough to learn in this more self-reliant manner, an online veterinary technician school may be the perfect choice for you.
Questions to Ask Veterinary Technician Programs
By now you should have determined which veterinary degree that you want to earn, and if you intend to study online or attend a college on campus. Since there are a large number of veterinarian community colleges, trade and vocational schools in the Fairfield AL area as well as across the United States, you must ask some qualifying questions in order to fine tune your list of alternatives. As we pointed out in our opening, many prospective students start by prioritizing location and tuition expense. But we have already pointed out other essential qualifiers, such as internship programs and accreditation. And obviously you need to choose a college that offers the degree and specialty that you want to earn. These and other qualifications are reviewed in the checklist of questions that you should ask the vet tech colleges that you are reviewing.
Is the Veterinary College Accredited? It's important that you confirm that the vet tech college you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As earlier discussed, among the most highly respected is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have undergone an extensive screening process that ensures you will receive a superior education. Also, accreditation is important if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, since many programs are not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, having a degree or certificate from an accredited school is in many cases a requirement for employment for many Fairfield AL area veterinary clinics and hospitals.
What is the Program's Reputation? The vet college or vocational school and program you enroll in should have an excellent reputation within the veterinary field. You can begin your due diligence by asking the schools you are interested in for testimonials from the employers in their job placement network. Other suggestions include checking with online school ranking websites and checking with the school's accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing department if there have been any grievances or infractions involving your specific schools. As a final suggestion, contact some Fairfield AL veterinarians that you may want to work for after you get your training. Ask what they think about your school selections. They may even suggest some colleges not on your list.
Are there Internship Programs? The most effective means to obtain practical hands on training as a vet tech is to work in a medical setting. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have internship programs set up with Fairfield AL veterinarians, vet hospitals or clinics. The majority of veterinary medicine programs require practical training and many furnish it by means of internships. Not only will the experience be invaluable relative to the clinical training, but an internship can also help build relationships in the local vet community and help in the search for a position after graduation.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Getting 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 programs you are considering. A low rate may suggest that the instructors were unqualified to teach the curriculum or that some students were dissatisfied 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 may mean that the program has an exceptional reputation within the Fairfield AL vet community and has a considerable network of contacts for student placements. A low rate may signify that the training is not well regarded by employers or that the job placement program is a failure at placing students.
How Large are the Classes? If the classes are larger in size, you probably will receive little or no one-on-one instruction from the teachers. Request from the Fairfield AL colleges you are researching what their classroom student to teacher ratios are. You may also want to participate in a few classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between teachers and students. Get evaluations from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the instructors and find out what their qualifications are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the School Located? Yes, we previously talked about location, but there are several more points to consider on the subject. If you are going to commute to your veterinary technician classes from your Fairfield AL home, you have to confirm that the driving time fits into your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to investigate the route won't be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, especially if the campus is located in or near a large city. Also, if you do choose to enroll in a college in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be higher tuition fees particularly for state and community colleges. Of course taking classes online could be an alternative that will give you more flexibility and minimize the need for travel.
Is the Class Schedule Flexible? And finally, it's important that you determine if the veterinarian colleges you are exploring offer class times flexible enough to fit 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 Fairfield AL. Others might only be able to go to classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Make certain that the class times you need are offered before enrolling. In addition, determine if you can make-up classes that you may miss as a result of work, sickness or family emergencies. You might discover that an online college is the best way to fit your veterinary training into your hectic life.
Enroll in the Right Fairfield Vet Technologist Program
Selecting the appropriate veterinary technician school is a crucial first step to starting a gratifying career delivering care and treatment for pets and livestock. Students looking into vet tech colleges must make their selection based on several key factors. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and animal shelters. They usually handle administrative responsibilities and assist the veterinarian with the animal patients when needed. As we have discussed, it's essential that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This goes for vet tech online programs as well. By asking the questions included in our checklist for evaluating schools, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives so that you can make your final selection. And by picking the best college, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a vet tech in Fairfield Alabama.