How to Pick the Right Veterinary Technician Degree Program Near Prattville Alabama
Fulfilling your long term goal of working with and caring for animals by enrolling in a veterinary technician college near Prattville AL may at first feel like a daunting undertaking. After all, you have to locate and enroll in a college that will deliver the appropriate training to ensure that you can succeed as a vet tech. But just how do you approach assessing and contrasting colleges so that you can make the correct choice? Many future students begin their due diligence process by searching for schools that are close to their homes. After they have located some nearby schools, they determine which ones have the most affordable tuition and focus on those. Although expense and location are important factors when assessing vet tech schools, they are not the only important ones when making your comparisons. Qualifications such as internship programs and accreditation need to be considered as well. The point is that there are questions you should be asking the vet technician programs you are looking at before you make an ultimate selection. We have presented several within this article to help get you started, but before we review them we'll go over the various roles of vet techs and the training options available.
Vet Assistants, Technicians and Technologists
One of the initial decisions that you will have to make is if you plan to train as a veterinary technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your decision might be predicated on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your training, but the principal determiner will probably be which specialty appeals to you the most. What technicians and assistants share in common is that they each work under the immediate guidance of a licensed and practicing veterinarian. And although there are many duties that they can perform within the Prattville AL veterinary clinic or hospital, they can't prescribe drugs, diagnose ailments, or conduct surgeries. In those areas they can only furnish support to a licensed vet. There are technicians and technologists that work outside of the typical veterinarian practice, for example for zoos, animal shelters or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the job functions and training 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 finishing a certificate program at a community college or vocational school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the vets and vet techs in the execution of their duties. Generally they are not involved with more complicated undertakings, such as assisting with surgeries. Some of their regular duties may include working at the front desk, cleaning and preparing exam rooms and equipment, or handling pets during examinations.
- Vet Technicians get more extensive training compared with assistants and typically acquire a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a fashion the veterinarian equivalent of medical nurses, since their basic job function is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they vary from vet assistants is that they are involved in more involved duties, for instance assisting with surgeries or administering medication. All states presently require veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either certification, registration or licensing.
- Vet Technologists are comparable to vet techs and essentially carry out the same work functions. They are required to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which generally takes four years. Therefore the only real distinction between a vet technician and a technologist 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 examination for either registration, certification or licensing.
Veterinary techs and technologists can specialize in areas such as internal medicine, anesthesia or urgent care. A number may earn certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Prattville AL labs or research facilities also.
Online Vet Tech Programs Offered
An alternative that may make sense for those with a busy schedule or who are working full-time while going to veterinarian school is to enroll in an online program. Since the classes are provided by means of the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is available. The course of study is taught using several venues, including videos, slide shows and live streaming webinars. And since most veterinary technician and technologist degrees require clinical training, that segment can normally be completed as an internship or work study program at a local Prattville AL veterinary practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in some instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and secondary expenses, for instance for travel and study supplies, can be lower compared to more traditional classroom courses. Just confirm that the program that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting agency. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything is furnished for a complete education. So if you are dedicated enough to learn in this more independent mode, an online vet tech school may be the perfect choice for you.
What to Ask Veterinary Technician Schools
By now you should have determined which veterinarian credential that you want to obtain, and if you prefer to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are an abundance of vet community colleges, trade and vocational schools in the Prattville AL area as well as across the United States, you should ask some important questions in order to fine tune your list of options. As we pointed out in our introduction, many prospective students start by concentrating on location and the cost of tuition. But we have already mentioned other essential qualifiers, for instance internship programs and accreditation. And obviously you want to enroll in a school that offers the degree and specialty that you are interested in. These and other qualifications are covered in the checklist of questions that you should ask the veterinary technician programs that you are considering.
Is the Veterinary School Accredited? It's essential that you confirm that the veterinary technician college you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As previously mentioned, among the most highly respected is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have gone through a rigorous review process that confirms you will get a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are requesting a student loan or financial assistance, since a large number of programs are not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, having a certificate or degree from an accredited college is frequently a precondition for employment for many Prattville AL area veterinary clinics and hospitals.
What is the School's Reputation? The veterinarian college or trade school and program you enroll in must have an outstanding reputation within the veterinarian community. You can begin your due diligence by asking the colleges you are looking at for endorsements from the employers in their job assistance network. Other suggestions include checking with online school rating websites and speaking with the school's accrediting organizations as well. You can ask the Alabama school licensing authority if there have been any complaints or violations involving your targeted schools. As a final suggestion, phone some Prattville AL veterinarians that you may want to work for after you get your training. Find out what they think about your school choices. They might even suggest one or more colleges not on your list.
Are there Internship Programs? The best approach to get practical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a clinical environment. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have internship programs arranged with Prattville AL veterinarians, vet practices or hospitals. Almost all veterinary medicine programs require clinical training and a large number provide it by means of internships. Not only will the experience be valuable regarding the practical training, but an internship can also help develop connections in the local vet community and help in the search for a position after graduation.
Is Job Placement Offered? Finding a job after graduating from a veterinary technician school can be challenging without the help of a job placement program. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the schools you are evaluating. A lower rate might mean that the teachers were unqualified to teach the syllabus or that some students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the colleges have a job placement program and ask what their placement rates are. A high placement rate may mean that the school has an excellent reputation within the Prattville AL vet community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate may indicate that the training is not well regarded by employers or that the job assistance program is ineffective at placing students.
How Big are the Classes? If the classes are larger in size, you probably will get little or no personalized instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Prattville AL schools you are looking at what their classroom teacher to student ratios are. You might also decide to participate in a few classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between students and instructors. Ask for evaluations from students regarding 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 College Located? Yes, we already covered location, but there are a few more points to consider on the subject. If you are planning to drive to your veterinary technician classes from your Prattville AL home, you must confirm that the driving time is compatible with your schedule. For example, driving during the weekend to investigate the route won't be the same as the commute during rush hour traffic, especially if the campus is located near or in a larger city. Also, if you do opt to attend a college in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be increased tuition costs particularly for state and community colleges. Of course attending classes online could be an option that will give you more flexibility and minimize the necessity for travel.
Do the Classes Fit Your Schedule? And finally, it's imperative that you ascertain if the veterinarian colleges you are exploring offer class times flexible enough to fit your schedule. For example, a number of students continue working full time and can only attend classes on the weekends or in the evenings near Prattville AL. Others might only be able to attend classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Confirm that the class times you need are available before enrolling. In addition, determine if you can make-up classes that you may miss due to work, sickness or family emergencies. You might find that an online college is the ideal way to fit your vet training into your busy life.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Vet Technologist School
Choosing the appropriate veterinary technician college is a crucial first step to starting a gratifying career delivering care and treatment for animals. Potential students considering veterinary technician schools must make their determination based on multiple key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in vet clinics, animal hospitals and animal shelters. They typically handle administrative tasks and assist the veterinarian with the animal patients as needed. As we have covered, it's essential that you enroll in a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the profession. This goes for vet tech online programs as well. By asking the questions provided 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 best school, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a vet tech in Prattville Alabama.