Choosing the Right Veterinary Technician School for You
To become a veterinary technician, you’ll have to attend a vet tech program in an accredited veterinary technician school. These programs can be found in local colleges, universities, and even online. In vet tech school, you’ll learn how to take care of animals, about their general health and all about the daily duties you will be expected to perform such as taking blood for lab work, documenting patient histories and developing x-rays.
A vet technician program typically takes two years, but depending on the college and type (campus or online), you can either stretch this process out as long as you’d like or even expedite it. Some people choose to go for a bachelor’s degree to increase their employment opportunities and salaries, which requires an additional two years of college.
So, let’s say that you have a love for animals and a keen interest in working with them for a living. You’ve made up your mind to become a vet tech, but now how do you know which veterinary technician program is right for you? Should you go for a two-year program, a four-year program, an online program, or a campus program? The options are vast and navigating; the waters of schooling can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you make the right decision based on what you want your outcome to be.
Choosing an Accredited Veterinary Technician Program
The first step you want to take when choosing a veterinary technician program is to ensure that the college is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Any application that is not approved will waste your time and money, bottom line. Accredited programs ensure:
Students graduate with all the skills and knowledge necessary to pass certification and licensing exams as well as find veterinary tech jobs upon completion of said certification
The student to teacher ratios are strictly monitored to prevent overcrowding that hinders learning
The student to equipment ratio is monitored to ensure each student has the proper tools they need to learn
Lesson plans, technology, information, and techniques are up to date
Any upgrades to the above are made promptly by a committee that meets each year to discuss educational requirements for veterinary technicians
Cost Considerations of Campus vs. Distance Programs
While a correspondence or online vet tech course may seem appealing thanks to commercials or ads you may see, put some thought into whether this type of program is genuinely right for you. While some people have no other option as they need to raise a family or keep their current job while studying, if you can attend a campus program for vet techs, you should. Just because there is a little more flexibility in your scheduling and completion time with distance learning programs, these aren’t always the best deals. Only a small amount of students complete online courses. The National Consumer Law Center reports that only 7% of first-year students enrolled at the University of Phoenix (a sizeable online college) ever finish the program.
Additionally, unless the online courses are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), they are fairly worthless upon completion, especially when you take into account the fact that online courses are often more costly than attending local college courses.
Plus, at an actual campus, you can apply for grants, loans, scholarships, and other awards that can either significantly reduce your tuition or even wind up, giving you a free ride. At the very least, strongly consider enrolling in a campus-based veterinary technician program before you make any decisions.
Hands-On Learning Programs Are Essential
If you do (or even if you don’t) wind up choosing an actual campus setting, you should make sure that they offer hands-on training. This type of training is essential and will allow you to gain field experience via internships at local animal hospitals or veterinary offices. No reputable practice will hire anyone without hands-on training. Choosing a school accredited by the AMVA will ensure that you get this valuable piece of education.
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