If you love animals and like to spend your days taking care of them, you have a good chance of becoming a veterinary technician. Basically, a vet tech is to a veterinarian what a nurse is to a medical doctor. A vet tech assists and performs various functions under the supervision and direct orders of a veterinarian.
The most common responsibilities of a vet technician are observing the health condition of animals, performing laboratory examinations, giving medications, administering vaccines, caring for injured or sick animals, and cleaning or bathing animals. Occasionally, they perform more complicated tasks, but not without the supervision of a veterinarian.
Majority of veterinary clinics assign vet techs to mostly small animals like dogs, cats, and birds, although there are instances when bigger animals, like cattle, would need health-related assistance. Nevertheless, a vet technician is trained to handle practically all types (and sizes) of animals.
Aside from performing nurse-like duties, a veterinary technician also does supervisory and clerical tasks. Some examples include assisting fellow vet techs, managing the staff schedules, and doing some reports.
Vet technicians are confident and compassionate, they have an eye for detail, and they are meticulous. Additionally, a good vet tech has a solid background in math and science, specifically in algebra, chemistry, and biology.
Even if veterinary technicians are not as popular as medical doctors, there is a great need for them. The demand for good vet techs is on a constant rise. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number can go up to at least 30% or over 20,000 from today until around the year 2022.
So if you’re planning to become one, you have the assurance of a future filled with good opportunities.
However, since veterinary technicians are licensed and state-credentialed, it is important to get the proper training. But getting the proper training and education, is more than just going to school and listening to the professional instructors. To become a licensed vet technician, it is essential to get into the right vet tech school.
Tips for Choosing the Best Vet Tech School
There are several things that you need to consider in choosing a vet tech school. Aside from asking about fees and other related stuff, it is also important to take note of details that will give you an idea of what kind of vet tech education the school or college provides.
Here are some useful tips that you should follow if you want to make the best decision when choosing a veterinary technician school.
1.) Choose an Accredited Vet Technician School
Do not just go for any school; rather, look for a veterinary technician school that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association or AMVA. If you choose just any school – an ordinary one – all the studying, training, and learning will be for nothing because you will NOT qualify for veterinary technician credentials required to work. Also, if you select a school that is not accredited, your degree won’t receive any weight, especially when you start looking for a job.
In addition to an AMVA accreditation, the school or schools for vet tech that you choose should have professors or instructors who are licensed in the field. Likewise, they should be practicing or at least with actual vet tech experience. If possible, find a way to gather information about their career and education background.
Practicing instructors are a big help because they can share first-hand, actual vet tech experiences to their students.
2.) Choose a Vet Tech School That Has Onsite Facilities
A good veterinary technician school must have world-class onsite facilities. This will give you and other students opportunities for well-rounded hands-on training. In other words, you can freely test and practice what is taught by your instructors. Some examples of useful facilities for schools include laboratories (that are usually patterned after actual clinics or labs), surgical suites (where vet tech students can learn to assist vets hands-on), and animal kennels (temporary homes for the animals).
The best thing to do to find out if the school has enough facilities for vet tech students is to ask for a tour of the campus, particularly in the area where the veterinary technician facilities are supposed to be found. Make sure that the facilities are equipped with the right equipment and that the vet tech instructor or faculty assigned to the them are well-trained and experienced.
Likewise, try to find out if the school or schools on your list have partnerships or work closely with licensed animal facilities and the zoos in your area.
Certified veterinary technician schools need world-class vet tech facilities so that students like you will find it easy to replicate what actually happens in a vet tech clinic or hospital.
3.) Choose a Veterinary Technician School That Offers a Variety of Training Methods
One of the most important elements of a good vet tech school is the kind of training methods it offers or uses. Going for a school that has just one method will not be a good decision; choose a school or schools that offer a combination of methods. By doing this, you’ll have netter chances of gaining wide knowledge, which will prove to be useful once you start working. In education and work, having extensive experience is always a good thing.
Take note of the following methods as these are the ones that should be offered by the best veterinary technician schools.
a. Classroom Lectures
The first few weeks is usually reserved for discussions on non-clinical or laboratory-related topics. Some examples are the lectures on the responsibilities of a veterinary technician, as well as classes that focus on understanding medical terms.
b. Clinical or Laboratory Learning
This method is quite similar to the concept of internship where students are sent to offices (or wherever they should be working) to get actual and formal work experience. In the case of vet technician students like you, the workplace can be a clinic or laboratory and your boss is the veterinarian.
Every day, for a certain period of time, you will be working alongside the veterinarian, so you’ll be applying everything you learned to actual animal-patients. This is the highest form of hands-on activity.
Since you will actually be working in a clinic or laboratory, or maybe even in a hospital, you will not only be exposed to different patients (or animals), you’ll also have to deal with different kinds of clients (people!). Therefore, you won’t only have access to first-class animal healthcare, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn all that you can about proper customer service.
c. Applied Learning or Service Learning
These are different from hands-on or clinical learning because students are usually tasked to carry out vet tech responsibilities in community clinics intended for animal immunization and physical exams. Of course, student will be performing under the supervision or a professional licensed veterinarian.
Applied Learning projects are usually free and intended for local and small communities. It helps students translate their classroom learning to actual practice.
However, not all vet technician schools offer applied or service learning.
4.) Choose a Vet Tech School That Helps Students Find Jobs
A lot of modern-day schools regularly offer job placement assistance and even career advice sessions. A good veterinary technician school provides the same assistance to its students, too. Find one that will continue to help and support you (and your goals) even after you have graduated.
Go for a veterinary technician school that employs professional career advisers. These advisers will guide you in a lot of things, but particularly in deciding which direction to take in your career.
5.) Finally, choose a veterinary technician school that offers the Veterinary Technician National Examination or VTNE to its students who complete the vet tech studies or course. A school that offers this service is one that you can trust, particularly in terms of giving the right education and training; one that prepares you and your fellow students for the technician exam.
Some schools do not offer the Veterinary Technician National Examination but uses a similar exam mandated by the state where it is located.
Once you have chosen a good and reliable veterinary technician school, you can start working on your dream of becoming a licensed vet tech. After completing the program, the first thing you’ll need to do is take all the exams you are required to take (the VTNE, for example).
After completing and passing the exams, you can now work on your credentials. There are several procedures that you can choose from: RVT or Registered Veterinary Technician, Certified Veterinary Technician or CVT, and LVT or Licensed Veterinary Technician.
Your school should be willing to assist you in your credentialing.
It takes more than just a love of animals to become a good veterinary technician. You need to have the determination, courage, physical and mental strength, and love & passion for animals. Most important of all, you need to get into a good and reliable veterinary technician school to make sure you get the best education and training.
Take note of the above mentioned tips and suggestions – and keep them in mind – if you are about to start planning your veterinary technician education.