If you’ve ever had a pet, you know how important it is that you have someone at the vet’s office who’s going to calm you down, make your pet comfortable before it gets the help it needs or tell you right off if the situation is serious or not.
This is where the vet technician jumps in – it’s the person you count on during those first critical moments once you arrive at the animal healthcare facility.
And that’s just your point of view as the pet’s owner. There is a lot more to this job.
The responsibilities of a vet technician can be compared to those of a nurse in a human hospital.
Vet technician’s role is even more crucial with the growing need for veterinary care nowadays.
With more and more pet owners in America today, the vet technicians jump in with their role that is practically necessary in every vet ambulance you may happen to stumble upon.
Apart from the medical aspect, it’s a part of their job to communicate well with the owners and know how to calm them down, as well as the pets.
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Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Alabama
Basically, the main job of a veterinary technician is to assist the veterinarian in the same manner a nurse would assist a doctor.
This basically means they assist veterinarians with whatever clinical examinations that may be needed, like:
- physical examinations that lead to further diagnostics of the disease or illness
- inducing and maintaining anesthesia
- applying medications, fluids and blood products following the veterinarians’ instructions
- taking patient’s body temperature
- monitoring pulse and respiration
- addressing injuries and sometimes applying first aid…and all this while basically remaining involved in every aspect of the patient’s wellbeing.
What’s interesting is that they have literally the same role as nurses do in human healthcare, in the sense that they are also commonly in charge of assisting veterinarians in surgeries.
Their tasks here are to provide proper equipment to veterinarians when they need it, and make sure that the equipment and monitoring devices are working properly.
But don’t think their professional responsibilities are easier just because the veterinarian is carrying the heavier load.
No, they too can wind up in high pressure situations, with animals that are on the verge of death: this is where the vet technician needs to be both calm and efficient, and decide on the first aid treatment as soon as the animal arrives into the healthcare facility.
How to Become One?
If your life’s desire is to become a vet technician, well you will first have to earn a Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree of Applied Science.
Specifically for Alabama, this means that you can take the one veterinary technology program Alabama offers, and the program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
This means that you can attend classes over the internet, and the only thing you have to have is a computer and access to the Internet.
But don’t think it means you’ll pass through this course with flying colors and no work just because it’s online – most of these courses require the student to work at least 20 hours per week, and at an approved clinical facility, no less.
It’s what it takes to complete the required tasks and sometimes you may be expected to travel places if you want to meet this requirement.
Education Required for a Vet Technician in Alabama
There is a plethora of general education courses that you’ll be required to have completed before the semester in which you enrolled starts, courses like biology, math, psychology, humanities etc.
You should keep in mind that grades lower than C will not be accepted.
This means that if you get a grade lower than a C, unfortunately you’ll have to retake the entire course, and if you fail at getting a C the second time, you may be dismissed.
You will also need two letters of recommendation in order to meet the requirements of the admission process.
One of the recommendation letters needs to be from a veterinarian.
You also need to provide proof of health insurance and purchase a medical malpractice policy through Jefferson State Community College.
And, as you may have guessed, practice is crucial: you must have 360 hours of practical experience before the admission.
As far as the Academic Courses go , you can expect some of the following:
- Introduction to veterinary technology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Emergency care and first aid
Most of these courses are a combination of theory and lab practice, and all except two courses require from you to spend about 20 hours working at an approved veterinary facility.
Now, once you’re near the end, your final semester of work experience will be a preceptorship (this is a mentored experience during which a physician volunteers to serve as a mentor and supervisor, giving their own instructions and training to a medical student).
During this preceptorship you’ll get valuable clinical knowledge and instructions and upon completing it, you’ll fulfill all requirements and complete your training.
Once this happens, you’ll become a veterinary technician in Alabama, graduated with an Associate Degree in Applied Science (Veterinary Technology).
Tuition and Financial Aid
In Alabama vet programs, tuition is charged per credit hour, and you can expect most programs to cost around $10,944 (these are in-state costs, while out of state tuition can cost up to around $19,532)-
Like every other school, Arizona programs offer traditional financial aid that all college students can apply for, if they meet the criteria.
You can apply to almost every financial aid program starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are also scholarships specific to the veterinary technology program.
They are available from the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association, the Jefferson County Veterinary Medical Association, the Madison County Veterinary Medical Association, and the Alabama Veterinary Technician Association.
Getting a Job in Alabama
Upon finishing all the courses and the additional exams you have to take, you can start looking for a, hopefully, good job.
There are many animal clinics and hospitals that would be happy to have you work for them and some of them are these:
- Alabama Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) with the listings of veterinary jobs,
- VCA (Veterinary Centers of America) which has the facilities in Alabama,
- Carriage Hills Animal Hospital and Pet Resort in Montgomery and
- Riverview Animal Clinic which deals with the complete animal health care services.
Salaries for Vet Technicians in Alabama
Going back to what we said in the beginning of this texts about how, generally speaking, vet medicine is becoming the coveted job due to the expanding number of pet owners in the US, and with that the employment of veterinary technicians is expected to grow by 30% by the year 2022.
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Licensing and Certification
As for the specific licenses for vet technicians in Alabama, there is The Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) which is an exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Now, in order to qualify for it, you must have a degree from an accredited veterinary technician program.
If you want to take this exam, you have to first apply for examination and licensure by Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and pay a fee of 100$ (apart from 300$ that you have to pay in order to take the exam at all). The exam lasts three hours and has 150 questions.
You need at least 70% in order to pass the exam. You’re required to maintain an annual amount of eight hours of continuing education in order to keep this license current.
If you decide to become a vet technician, be prepared that you may have a completely different experience than someone else that has gone along the same path as you.
General experience of vet technicians in Alabama is that it’s slowly becoming a coveted profession and you’ll probably gain precious knowledge and combined experience from various animal hospitals and ambulances.
Most vet technicians in Alabama have shared that they’ve also had positive experiences with vet technician education programs.
So, if you live in Alabama and are dreaming of pursuing this, undoubtedly, noble career, don’t think twice – it’s a fulfilling profession with a bright perspective in Alabama.