How to Choose the Best Veterinary Technician School Near Huntsville Alabama
Fulfilling your lifelong aspiration of working with and helping pets by enrolling in a vet tech school near Huntsville AL could initially seem like an overwhelming endeavor. After all, you have to find and enroll in a program that will deliver the proper training so that you can be successful as a vet tech. But just how do you go about analyzing and contrasting schools so that you can make the correct choice? Many aspiring students start their due diligence process by looking for campuses that are near their residences. After they have located some local schools, they determine which ones have the most affordable tuition and hone in on those. Although location and expense are significant considerations when evaluating veterinary technician schools, they are not the only significant ones when making your evaluations. Qualifications such as internship programs and accreditation need to be evaluated also. The main idea is that there are questions you should be asking the veterinary technician schools you are looking at before you make an ultimate choice. We have provided several in this article to help get you started, but before we discuss them we'll go over the various roles of vet techs and the training options available.
Vet Assistants, Technicians and Technologists
Among the initial decisions that you will have to make is whether you desire to train as a veterinary technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your decision may be dependent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your education, but the principal factor will probably be which specialty interests you the most. What techs and assistants have in common is that they all work under the direct direction of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And although there are many tasks that they can carry out within the Huntsville AL veterinary clinic or hospital, they can't prescribe medicines, diagnose ailments, or conduct surgeries. In those areas they can only provide support to a licensed veterinarian. There are technicians and technologists that work outside of the standard vet practice, for example for zoos, animal shelters or police departments. Let's take a look at the job functions and training prerequisites for each specialty.
- Vet Assistants in most instances will have gone through a formal training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a practice, or by completing a certificate program at a vocational school or community college. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet technicians in the performance of their duties. Generally they are not involved with more involved undertakings, such as assisting with surgical procedures. A few of their usual responsibilities may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during exams.
- Vet Technicians go through more extensive training compared to assistants and typically obtain a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a sense the veterinarian equivalent of medical nurses, since their fundamental job duty is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they stand apart from vet assistants is that they are included in more complex functions, for example assisting with surgical procedures or providing medicine. All states presently mandate that veterinary technicians pass a credentialing examination for either licensing, registration or certification.
- Vet Technologists are comparable to vet techs and for the most part perform the same job functions. They are mandated to earn a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which typically takes 4 years to complete. Therefore 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 job opportunities, increased salaries and potential management positions. They are additionally required to pass a credentialing exam for either certification, registration or licensing.
Vet technicians and technologists may specialize in areas such as internal medicine, anesthesia or urgent care. A number may acquire certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Huntsville AL laboratories or research facilities as well.
Vet Tech Online Programs Offered
An option that might make sense 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 provided over the internet, students can attend on their own timetable wherever a computer is accessible. The course of study is taught using multiple methods, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since many vet tech and technologist degrees require practical training, that segment can typically be fulfilled as an internship or work study program at a local Huntsville AL veterinary practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in many instances lower the cost of your education. Tuition and secondary costs, for example for travel and study materials, can be more affordable compared to more traditional classroom courses. Just make sure that the program that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting organization. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything is included for a complete education. So if you are dedicated enough to learn in this more self-reliant manner, an online vet tech program may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Vet Tech Programs
At this point you should have decided on which veterinarian degree that you want to earn, and if you want to study online or attend a program on campus. Since there are an abundance of vet community colleges, technical and vocational schools in the Huntsville AL area and across the United States, you should ask some relevant questions in order to fine tune your list of options. As we mentioned in our introduction, many potential students start by concentrating on location and the cost of tuition. But we have previously mentioned other important qualifiers, for instance internship programs and accreditation. And naturally you need to select a program that offers the degree and specialty that you would like to earn. These and other factors are covered in the checklist of questions that you should ask the vet tech programs that you are considering.
Is the Veterinary School Accredited? It's essential that you make sure that the vet tech college you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As previously mentioned, among the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have undergone a thorough screening process that confirms you will get a superior education. Also, accreditation is essential if you are requesting a student loan or financial assistance, since numerous programs are not obtainable for non-accredited schools. Last, having a certificate or degree from an accredited college is in many cases a precondition for employment for many Huntsville AL area vet practices and hospitals.
What is the Program's Reputation? The veterinary vocational school or college and program you choose should have an exceptional reputation within the vet field. You can initiate your due diligence by asking the colleges you are reviewing for testimonials from the employers in their job placement network. Other suggestions include checking with online school ranking websites and contacting the school's accrediting organizations as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing authority if there have been any grievances or violations relating to your specific schools. As a final recommendation, phone some Huntsville AL veterinary clinics that you may wish to work for after you receive your training. Find out what they think about your school choices. They might even recommend one or more schools not on your list.
Are there Internship Programs? The most effective means to get clinical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a clinical setting. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have internship programs established with Huntsville AL veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. The majority of veterinary medicine programs mandate clinical training and many provide it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be beneficial relative to the clinical training, but an internship may also help develop connections in the local vet community and aid in the search for a job after graduation.
Is Job Placement Offered? Searching for a job after graduating from a vet tech program can be difficult without the assistance of a job placement program. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the schools you are reviewing. A lower rate might suggest that the instructors were ineffective at teaching the course of study or that a number of students were disappointed with the program and quit. Next, confirm that the schools have a job assistance program and find out what their placement rates are. A high placement rate might signify that the college has an exceptional reputation within the Huntsville AL vet community and has a substantial network of contacts for student placements. A low rate may indicate that the training is not well regarded by employers or that the job assistance program is a failure at placing students.
How Large are the Classes? If the classes are larger in size, you probably will get little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Solicit from the Huntsville AL colleges you are looking at what their class teacher to student ratios are. You might also decide to attend a couple of classes (if practical) to observe the interaction between instructors and students. Ask for evaluations from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the teachers and find out what their backgrounds are as well as their approaches to teaching.
Where is the Campus Located? Okay, we already talked about location, but there are a couple of more points to consider on the subject. If you are going to drive to your veterinary technician classes from your Huntsville AL home, you have to confirm that the commuting 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, especially if the college is located in or close by a larger city. In addition, if you do decide 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. On the other hand, attending classes online may be an option that will provide you with more flexibility and reduce the necessity for travel.
Do the Classes Fit Your Schedule? And finally, it's imperative that you ascertain if the vet programs you are looking at offer class times that are sufficiently flexible to fit your schedule. For example, many students continue to work full time and can only attend classes on the weekends or at night near Huntsville AL. Others might only be able to go to classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you need are available before enrolling. Also, determine if you can make up classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family responsibilities. You may find that an online school is the ideal solution to fit your vet education into your hectic life.
Choose the Right Huntsville Veterinary Technologist College
Selecting the ideal vet tech school is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career delivering care and treatment for animals. Students considering vet tech schools must make their selection based on multiple key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in vet clinics, animal hospitals and animal shelters. They usually handle administrative responsibilities and support the veterinarian with the animals when needed. As we have covered, it's essential that you choose a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This applies to online vet tech colleges as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for reviewing schools, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make your final selection. And by selecting the ideal school, you can reach your goal of becoming a vet tech in Huntsville Alabama.