Vet Tech Schools in Colorado

How to Select a Vet Tech Program in Colorado

Colorado vet tech holding dog during examRealizing your lifelong aspiration of working with and caring for animals by enrolling in a vet program in Colorado could initially seem like a daunting task. After all, you need to locate and enroll in a school that will deliver the necessary training to ensure that you can succeed as a vet assistant, technician or technologist. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you can make the proper choice? Many future students start their due diligence process by searching for campuses that are close to their residences. Once they have found some area colleges, they find out which ones have the cheapest tuition and hone in on those. Although cost and location are significant concerns when comparing vet tech schools, they are not the only significant ones when making your assessments. Qualifiers such as internship programs and accreditation should be looked into also. The main idea is that there are questions you should be asking the veterinary tech programs you are considering before you make a final decision. We have provided several within this article in order to help get you started, but before we discuss them we’ll go over the varied responsibilities of veterinary assistants and techs and the training alternatives offered.

The Role of a Veterinary Tech and Assistant

Colorado vet assistant taking vital signs of puppyAmong the initial decisions that you will need to make is if you plan to train as a veterinary assistant, technologist or technician. Part of your decision may be dependent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your education, but the main determiner will probably be which specialty appeals to you the most. What vet techs and assistants share in common is that they each work under the immediate guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And while there are a number of tasks that they can carry out within the Colorado veterinary practice or hospital, they can’t prescribe medications, diagnose ailments, or conduct surgical procedures. In those areas they may only provide assistance to a licensed veterinarian. There are technicians and technologists that work exclusive of the conventional veterinarian practice, for example for animal shelters, zoos or police departments. Let’s take a look at the duties and training requirements for each specialization.

  • Vet Assistants in almost all cases will have completed a formal training program, either as an apprentice or intern in a vet clinic or hospital, or by graduating from a certificate program at a community college or vocational school in Colorado. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the vets and vet technicians in the execution of their duties. Generally they are not involved with more complex activities, for example assisting with surgical procedures. A few of their regular duties may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning examination rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during exams.
  • Vet Technicians go through more extensive training compared to assistants and normally obtain a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a fashion the veterinary equivalent of medical nurses, since their basic job duty is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they differ from veterinary assistants is that they are engaged in more complicated tasks, for instance assisting with surgeries or providing medication. All states currently require veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either licensing, registration or certification.
  • Vet Technologists are comparable to vet technicians and essentially carry out the same work functions. They are required to attain a Bachelor’s Degree in veterinary technology, which generally takes four years. Therefore the only real difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist’s more advanced level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more work options, higher salaries and possible management positions. They are additionally mandated to pass a credentialing examination for either certification, registration or licensing.

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

Online Veterinary Training Classes

attending vet tech school online in ColoradoAn alternative that might make sense for those with a busy schedule or who are working full-time while attending veterinary school is to enroll in an online program. Since the classes are provided via the internet, students can attend on their own schedule wherever a computer is available. The course of study is taught using various methods, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since many veterinary technician and technologist degrees require clinical training, that part can typically be fulfilled as an internship or work study program at an area Colorado veterinarian practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in many instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and supplementary expenditures, for example for commuting and study supplies, can be more affordable compared to more conventional classroom courses. Just confirm that the online school that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting agency. 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 veterinary tech or assistant school may be the right choice for you.

Things to Ask Vet Assistant and Technician Degree Programs

cat wearing cone after vet surgery in ColoradoBy now you should have selected which veterinarian certificate or degree that you would like to attain, and if you intend to study online or attend a program on campus. Since there are an abundance of veterinary community colleges, vocational and trade schools in Colorado and across the Country, you must ask some qualifying questions to help fine tune your list of alternatives. As we mentioned in our opening, many potential students start by prioritizing location and the cost of tuition. But we have previously mentioned other significant qualifiers, for example internship programs and accreditation. And obviously you need to select a college that offers the degree and specialty that you want to earn. These and other factors are addressed in the list of questions that you need to ask the veterinary assistant and tech colleges that you are reveiwing.

Is the Vet School Accredited?  It’s important that you verify that the veterinary assistant or tech school you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization. As previously mentioned, one of the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Trade schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have undergone an extensive review process that ensures you will obtain a superior education. Also, accreditation is necessary if you are applying for a student loan or financial assistance, since a large number of programs are not available for non-accredited colleges. And finally, having a certificate or degree from an accredited program is frequently a precondition for employment for many Colorado veterinary practices and hospitals.

What is the Program’s Reputation?  The veterinary college or vocational school and program you select must have an outstanding reputation within the veterinary community. You can begin your due diligence by asking the schools you are reviewing for references from the employers in their job placement network. Other pointers include looking on online school ranking websites and speaking with the school’s accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Colorado school licensing authority if there have been any grievances or violations regarding your targeted schools. As a final suggestion, call some veterinary clinics that you may wish to work for after you go through 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 most effective way to get clinical hands on experience as a vet assistant or tech is to work in a professional environment. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have internship programs set up with area veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. Almost all veterinary medicine programs mandate practical training and many provide it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be beneficial relative to the clinical training, but an internship can also help develop connections in the local Colorado veterinarian community and help in the search for employment after graduation.

Is there a Job Assistance Program?  Searching for a job after graduating from a veterinary assistant or tech school can be challenging without the assistance of a job placement program. To start with, find out what the graduation rates are for the programs you are reviewing. A lower rate may signify that the instructors were unqualified to teach the syllabus or that some students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the schools have a job placement program and ask what their placement rates are. A high placement rate might indicate that the Colorado school has an excellent reputation within the veterinarian community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A low rate could signify that the training is not well thought of by employers or that the job placement 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. Find out from the Colorado colleges you are considering what their classroom teacher to student ratios are. You may also want to participate in a few classes (if practical) to observe the interaction between instructors and students. Get feedback from students concerning the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the instructors and find out what their qualifications are as well as their approaches to teaching.

Where is the Campus Located?  Yes, we previously covered location, but there are a few more points to consider on the subject. If you are planning to commute to your veterinary technician classes from work or home, you need to make certain that the driving time fits into your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to investigate the route won’t be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, especially if the Colorado school is located near or in a large city. Also, if you do choose to attend a college in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be increased tuition charges especially for state and community colleges. Of course attending online classes may be an option that will give you more flexibility and reduce the necessity for travel.

Is the Class Schedule Flexible?  And last, it’s important that you determine if the Colorado veterinary programs you are looking at offer class times that are sufficiently flexible to fit your schedule. For instance, a number of students continue working full time and can only go to classes on the weekends or at night. Some might only be able to attend classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Confirm that the class times you need are available prior to enrolling. In addition, determine if you can make up classes that you may miss because of work, sickness or family responsibilities. You might discover that an online school is the ideal way to fit your vet training into your hectic life.

Enroll in the Right Vet Tech Training Program in Colorado

Picking the right veterinary technician college is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career delivering treatment and care for pets and livestock. Future students looking into vet tech or assistant colleges need to make their selection based on a number of key issues. Veterinary assistants, techs and technologists are employed in veterinary clinics and hospitals and animal shelters. They commonly handle administrative tasks and assist the veterinarian with the animal patients as needed. As we have discussed, it’s very important that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the profession. This goes for online vet tech schools 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 decision. And by picking the right program, you can reach your goal of becoming a veterinary technician, assistant or technologist.

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