Vet Tech Schools in Arizona

How to Pick a Veterinary Assistant Program in Arizona

Arizona vet tech holding dog during examAchieving your long term goal of working with and caring for pets by enrolling in a vet school in Arizona could initially seem like a daunting undertaking. After all, you need to search for and enroll in a school that will provide the appropriate training to ensure that you can succeed as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. But just how do you go about assessing and contrasting schools so that you can make the correct choice? Many potential students launch their due diligence process by looking for colleges that are near their homes. When they have located some local colleges, they ascertain which ones have the cheapest tuition and hone in on those. Although expense and location are important considerations when evaluating vet tech schools, they are not the only critical ones when making your comparisons. Qualifiers such as internship programs and accreditation need to be looked into as well. The main idea is that there are questions you ought to be asking the veterinary tech programs you are reviewing before you make an ultimate choice. We have presented several in this article in order to help get you started, but before we review them we’ll explore the varied roles of veterinary techs and assistants and the training options offered.

The Role of a Veterinary Technician and Assistant

Arizona vet assistant taking vital signs of puppyOne of the first decisions that you will have to make is whether you want to train as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your determination may be predicated on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your training, but the principal factor will undoubtedly be which specialty interests you the most. What vet techs and assistants share in common is that they both work under the immediate guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And although there are many jobs that they can perform within the Arizona veterinary clinic or hospital, they can’t prescribe drugs, diagnose ailments, or carry out surgical procedures. In those areas they can only furnish assistance to a licensed vet. There are technologists and technicians that work outside of the standard veterinarian practice, for example for zoos, animal shelters or law enforcement. Let’s take a look at the responsibilities and education requirements for each specialization.

  • Vet Assistants in the majority of instances will have undergone a structured training program, either as an apprentice or intern in a vet clinic or hospital, or by completing a certificate program at a community college or vocational school in Arizona. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the vets and vet technicians in the execution of their duties. Normally they are not associated with more complicated activities, for instance assisting with surgeries. A few of their usual duties may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning examination rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during exams.
  • Vet Technicians receive more advanced training in contrast to assistants and generally acquire a two year Associate Degree, ideally from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a fashion the vet equivalent of medical nurses, since their general job function is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they vary from veterinary assistants is that they are involved in more complex duties, for instance assisting with surgeries or providing medication. All states presently require veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either registration, certification or licensing.
  • Vet Technologists are similar to vet techs and basically perform the same job functions. They are mandated to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in veterinary technology, which usually requires four 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 job options, higher salaries and potential management positions. They are also required to pass a credentialing exam for either registration, certification or licensing.

Vet techs and technologists may specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or urgent care. A number may obtain certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in labs or Arizona research facilities also.

Online Veterinary Courses

attending vet tech school online in ArizonaAn approach that might make sense for those with a hectic lifestyle or who are working full time while attending vet college is to enroll in an online program. Because the classes are made available over the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The curriculum is taught using multiple methods, including videos, slide shows and live streaming webinars. And since many vet technician and technologist degrees require clinical training, that portion can typically be carried out as an internship or work study program at an area Arizona veterinarian practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in some instances decrease the cost of your education. Tuition and ancillary costs, for example for commuting and study supplies, can be more affordable compared to more traditional classroom courses. Just confirm that the program that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally certified accrediting organization. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything is furnished for a comprehensive education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more self-reliant mode, an online veterinary tech or assistant school may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Veterinary Assistant and Technician Degree Programs

cat wearing cone after vet surgery in ArizonaBy now you probably have selected which veterinarian certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, and if you prefer to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are a large number of vet community colleges, vocational and technical schools in Arizona and across the USA, you must ask some relevant questions to help fine tune your list of options. As we mentioned in our introduction, many prospective students start by focusing on location and the cost of tuition. But we have already pointed out other important qualifiers, such as accreditation and internship programs. And obviously you want to choose a school that offers the degree and specialty that you want to earn. These and other qualifications are reviewed in the checklist of questions that you need to ask the vet technician and assistant schools that you are looking at.

Is the Veterinary Program Accredited?  It’s important that you verify that the vet tech or assistant program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As earlier stated, among the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Trade schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have gone through a thorough screening process that ensures you will get a superior education. Also, accreditation is essential if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, since numerous programs are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Last, having a certificate or degree from an accredited college is often a precondition for employment for a number of Arizona veterinarian practices and hospitals.

What is the Program’s Reputation?  The veterinary college or vocational school and program you enroll in must have an excellent reputation within the vet community. You can initiate your due diligence by asking the schools you are looking at for endorsements from the employers in their job assistance network. Other suggestions include looking on internet school ranking websites and contacting the school’s accrediting organizations as well. You can ask the Arizona school licensing department if there have been any complaints or violations regarding your specific schools. As a final suggestion, call some veterinary clinics that you may wish to work for after you get your training. Ask what they think about your school selections. They may even recommend one or more schools not on your list.

Are there Internship Programs?  The best approach to get practical hands on training as a vet assistant or tech is to work in a clinical setting. Find out if the schools you are looking at have internship programs arranged with regional veterinarians, vet hospitals or clinics. Most veterinary medicine programs require practical training and a large number furnish it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be valuable regarding the practical training, but an internship can also help build associations in the local Arizona veterinary community and help in the search for employment after graduation.

Is Job Assistance Offered?  Getting a job after graduating from a veterinary assistant or technician program can be difficult without the assistance of a job placement program. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the programs you are evaluating. A lower rate might signify that the instructors were unqualified to teach the course of study or that some students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the colleges have a job assistance program and ask what their placement rates are. A high placement rate may mean that the Arizona program has an exceptional reputation within the vet community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate might indicate that the training is not highly 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, you may receive little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Request from the Arizona colleges you are looking at what their classroom teacher to student ratios are. You may also want to sit in on a couple of classes (if practical) to observe the interaction between instructors and students. Get feedback from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, speak with the instructors and find out what their backgrounds are as well as their methods of teaching.

Where is the College Located?  Yes, we previously talked about location, but there are a few more points to make on the subject. If you are going to commute to your vet tech classes from work or home, you have to make certain that the driving time is compatible with your schedule. For example, driving during the weekend to check out the route won’t be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, particularly if the Arizona college is located in or close by a large city. Also, if you do opt to attend a college in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be higher tuition charges particularly for state and community colleges. On the other hand, attending online classes could be an alternative that will give you more flexibility and minimize the necessity for travel.

Is the Class Schedule Flexible?  And last, it’s important that you find out if the Arizona veterinarian programs you are looking at offer class times flexible enough to accommodate your schedule. For example, many students continue to work full time and can only go to classes on the weekends or in the evenings. Others might only be able to attend class in the morning or later in the afternoon. Confirm that the class times you require are offered prior to enrolling. In addition, find out 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 best way to fit your vet training into your hectic life.

Select the Right Veterinary Assistant Program in Arizona

Picking the ideal veterinary technician program is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career providing treatment and care for pets and livestock. Potential students considering veterinary assistant or tech colleges need to make their decision based on a number of key issues. Veterinary assistants, techs and technologists are employed 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 very important that you enroll in a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an outstanding reputation within the profession. This goes for online vet tech programs as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for reviewing schools, you will be able to reduce your alternatives so that you can make your final decision. And by choosing the ideal program, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a veterinary technician, assistant or technologist.

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