How to Choose the Best Vet Tech College Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Achieving your lifelong dream of working with and helping pets by enrolling in a veterinary technician college near Tuscaloosa AL might at first seem like an overwhelming endeavor. After all, you have to search for and enroll in a school that will furnish the appropriate training to ensure that you can succeed as a veterinary technician. But just how do you approach assessing and contrasting colleges so that you can make the best choice? Many aspiring students begin their due diligence process by looking for campuses that are close to their residences. When they have found some nearby colleges, they ascertain which ones have the lowest tuition and hone in on those. Although location and expense are significant concerns when evaluating vet tech programs, they are by no means the only critical ones when making your assessments. Factors such as accreditation and internship programs should be looked into as well. The main idea is that there are questions you need to be asking the vet technician programs you are looking at 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 different roles of vet techs and the training alternatives available.
Vet Assistants, Technicians and Technologists
One of the initial decisions that you will have to make is whether you desire to train as a veterinary 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 primary factor will undoubtedly 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 practicing and licensed veterinarian. And although there are many tasks that they can perform within the Tuscaloosa AL veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe drugs, diagnose health issues, or perform surgeries. In those areas they may only furnish assistance to a licensed veterinarian. There are technicians and technologists that work away from the conventional vet 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 the majority of cases will have completed a formal training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a vet clinic or hospital, or by graduating from a certificate program at a trade school or community college. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet techs in the performance of their duties. Usually they are not associated with more involved undertakings, for instance assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their typical duties may include working at the front desk, cleaning and preparing examination rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during exams.
- Vet Technicians receive more advanced training compared to assistants and typically earn a two 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 veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they stand apart from vet assistants is that they are engaged in more complicated duties, such as assisting with surgical procedures or providing medicine. All states presently require vet technicians pass a credentialing exam for either licensing, registration or certification.
- Vet Technologists are comparable to vet techs and essentially perform the same work functions. They are required to attain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which generally requires 4 years to complete. So the only real difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist's higher level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more work options, increased salaries and potential management positions. They are also required to pass a credentialing exam for either registration, certification or licensing.
Veterinary 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 Tuscaloosa AL labs or research facilities also.
Online Vet Tech Schools Offered
An approach that might 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 via the internet, students can attend on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The curriculum is taught using several methods, including videos, slide shows and live streaming webinars. And since the majority of veterinary tech and technologist degrees require clinical training, that segment can usually be completed as an internship or work study program at a local Tuscaloosa AL veterinary practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in many instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and supplementary costs, for instance for traveling and study supplies, may be lower compared to more standard classroom courses. Just be 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 practical training, everything is included for a comprehensive education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more independent mode, an online vet tech school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Vet Tech Colleges
By now you should have determined which veterinarian credential that you want to attain, and if you prefer to study online or attend a program on campus. Since there are an abundance of veterinary community colleges, vocational and technical schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area as well as across the USA, you must ask some important questions to help narrow down your list of options. As we mentioned in our opening, many potential students start by concentrating on location and tuition expense. But we have already pointed out other significant qualifiers, for example internship programs and accreditation. And obviously you want to choose a school that offers the degree and specialty that you want to earn. These and other factors are covered in the checklist of questions that you need to ask the vet tech programs that you are considering.
Is the Veterinary College Accredited? It's imperative that you make sure that the vet tech college you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As previously discussed, 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 demanding review process that confirms you will get a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, since numerous programs are not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, having a certificate or degree from an accredited college is often a prerequisite for employment for many Tuscaloosa AL area vet clinics and hospitals.
What is the School's Reputation? The veterinary trade school or college and program you enroll in must have an excellent reputation within the vet field. You can start your due diligence by asking the schools you are looking at for references from the employers in their job placement network. Other tips include looking on internet school rating 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 specific schools. As a final pointer, call some Tuscaloosa AL veterinarians that you may wish to work for after you receive your training. Find out what they think of your school choices. They may even suggest one or more colleges not on your list.
Are there Internship Programs? The most effective way to obtain clinical hands on training as a vet tech is to work in a medical setting. Ask if the schools you are considering have internship programs established with Tuscaloosa AL veterinarians, vet hospitals or clinics. Almost all veterinary medicine programs require clinical training and a large number furnish it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be invaluable as far as the clinical training, but an internship can also help develop connections in the local veterinarian community and aid in the search for a job after graduation.
Is there a Job Placement Program? Getting a job after graduating from a veterinary technician college may be challenging without the help of a job placement program. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the colleges you are reviewing. A lower rate could signify that the instructors were ineffective at teaching the curriculum or that some students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. Next, check that the schools have a job assistance program and find out what their placement rates are. A high placement rate may signify that the school has an outstanding reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL veterinary community and has a substantial network of contacts for student placements. A low rate could mean that the training is not well thought of by employers or that the job assistance program is a failure at placing students.
How Large are the Classes? If the classes are larger sized, you probably will receive little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Tuscaloosa AL programs you are considering what their classroom student to teacher ratios are. You may also decide to attend some classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between instructors and students. Get feedback from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, speak with the teachers and find out what their qualifications are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the College Located? Yes, we already discussed location, but there are a couple of more points to consider on the subject. If you are planning to drive to your vet tech classes from your Tuscaloosa AL home, you need to confirm that the commuting time fits into your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to check out the route won't be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, especially if the campus is located in or close by a larger city. Also, if you do opt to attend a school in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be higher tuition fees especially for state and community colleges. Of course taking online classes might be an alternative that will provide you with more flexibility and reduce the necessity 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 working full time and can only attend classes on the weekends or in the evenings near Tuscaloosa AL. Some might only be able to go to class in the morning or in the afternoon. Verify that the class times you need are offered prior to enrolling. Also, determine if you can make-up classes that you may miss due to sickness, work or family issues. You might find that an online college is the best way to fit your veterinary training into your hectic life.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Veterinary Technologist School
Choosing the right veterinary technician college is an important first step to starting a rewarding career providing care and treatment for animals. Students considering veterinary technician colleges need to make their decision based on a number of key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in veterinary clinics and hospitals and animal shelters. They commonly take on administrative tasks and assist the veterinarian with the animal patients when needed. As we have discussed, it's imperative that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an outstanding reputation within the field. This goes for online vet tech schools as well. By asking the questions included in our checklist for evaluating schools, you will be able to reduce your choices so that you can make your final selection. And by choosing the ideal school, you can reach your goal of becoming a vet tech in Tuscaloosa Alabama.