Finding the Right Vet Tech School
You love animals. You want to make a difference. You want a career with a strong job outlook. A career as a veterinary technician or veterinary technologist (vet tech) may be right for you.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected job growth for veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists is 30 percent, or approximately 25,000 jobs, through 2022, compared to the 11 percent average for all other occupations. The vet tech field offers the opportunity for animal lovers to work in a career they are passionate about, while feeling confident in their potential to secure employment.
Whether you are a high school student in the midst of visiting several post-secondary options or a working professional contemplating a career change, completing a veterinary technology training program is the first step to joining the vet tech career field. Several vet tech programs are available throughout the United States – from diploma programs to associate and bachelor’s degrees. Where you receive your vet tech career training is a big decision – one that should not be made without doing thorough research.
When visiting a vet tech school, be sure to ask about the following topics, as they can help you make an educated decision on where to enroll.
1. Vet Tech Training Methods
The type of training you receive while in vet tech school is certainly one of the most important factors in deciding which institution you choose to attend. In health science fields, including veterinary technology, hands-on learning plays an important role in preparing students for the workforce.
Here are a few types of training methods you will want to ask a potential vet tech school about. A combination of the following can prepare you to enter the workforce with the appropriate experience necessary for a successful career.
Applied or service learning
Some schools incorporate applied or service learning projects as part of their vet tech program curriculum. This model allows vet tech students to “learn by doing.” In veterinary technology, there are numerous opportunities to help members of the community provide care to their pets.
Usually under the direction of licensed veterinarians, applied and service learning projects in the form of physical exams and spay and neuter or immunization clinics provide a valuable service to the community, while enhancing the learning experience for students. The projects can be offered as a service at little or no charge to the local community.
Often, vet tech schools will require students to complete an externship or some type of formal clinical experience as part of their curriculum. This offers vet tech students yet another opportunity to apply their education in a hands-on environment, while learning from professionals who are currently working in the field.
Clinical experiences will expose you to animals in a “real world” hospital or clinic setting. Not only does this allows you to apply the clinical abilities you are learning as part of your classes, but also to hone important customer service skills that are necessary in any vet tech position.
Although hands-on training is essential to preparing for a vet tech career, vet tech schools should also feature traditional classrooms that hold classes focused on non-clinical topics such as medical terminology or any administrative duties.
Classes can feature a combination of laboratory work, off-site clinical experiences and traditional lectures in a classroom.
2. Vet Tech Facilities
Learning in a setting that replicates what you can expect to see while on the job is going to help you feel more comfortable when you get to your first position. When visiting potential vet tech schools, ask for a tour of the veterinary technology facilities. It’s a good idea to have an understanding of what each room or area is used for.
The duties of a vet tech will vary depending on where you are employed, but no matter where you work, you will be expected to carry out a variety of tasks in support of a veterinarian or other veterinary staff. With such a variety of responsibilities, it is important to understand the different areas of a veterinary clinic. Be sure that a vet tech school features the following areas.
At a vet tech school, labs host a number of classes and can be modeled after actual animal hospital or clinic facilities.
In many positions, vet techs are present and assist veterinarians and other staff with surgeries. While in vet tech school, students are often assisting the on-site veterinarians with a variety of surgeries.
Because students work directly with animals while in school, kennels or other temporary housing areas are a common feature of a vet tech school.
Also ask about the equipment used and how it compares to what you will be working with in your career. Keep in mind that technology is ever-changing, so it’s a good idea to find out how often equipment is updated. The vet tech faculty on campus should be able to offer information on facilities and technology.
3. Vet Tech Faculty
It is important to understand who the instructors are at any vet tech school and determine their education and career backgrounds. In most cases, faculty members have worked in the field and are able to share their first-hand experience with their students.
The faculty members may also have valuable connections they can share with you when it comes time to network for a job.
These three topics are a good place to start your research when choosing a vet tech school. For more information, check out these examples of vet tech students taking advantage of their career training.