If working with animals has been your dream, a career as a veterinary assistant has much to recommend it. Veterinary assistants work side-by-side with veterinarians, tending to injured or sick animals, interacting with concerned pet owners, and managing a variety of assigned tasks.
Before you can proceed, you will need comprehensive training to learn the ins and outs of being a veterinary assistant. In Alabama, there are numerous trade schools, community colleges, and online institutions that offer training programs for aspiring veterinary assistants, where you can receive hands-on training and acquire the technical know-how you need to succeed in this profession.
Alabama Veterinary Assisting Education
There are no specific educational or certification requirements to become a veterinary assistant in Alabama. However, the chances of obtaining employment, or ad advancing to higher-paying positions, are much better for those who complete a veterinary assistant training program.
People who enter veterinary assistant training programs will spend somewhere between 100 and 240 hours in classroom and/or clinical settings, and these programs can generally be completed in 6-12 months. Tuition, fees, and associated costs range from $1,500 to $3,000 from the beginning of the program to completion, although costs could be higher if the student combines veterinary assistant training with other coursework (and less if online training is the centerpiece of the program).
Certificates may or may not be offered at the end of the training. But the combination of academic learning and direct experience that programs offer should prepare students to handle any duties required of a veterinary assistant.
National Certification for Aspiring Vet Assistants
Even though the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association does not require certification for those who plan to enter this profession, interested Alabama residents can still be certified through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, also known as NAVTA.
One path to certification is to study online through Animal Behavioral College, which offers the only NAVTA-approved Veterinary Assistant Program that enrolls students in the state of Alabama. After completion of the program Alabama students will have the opportunity to take NAVTA’s national test, and if they pass they will be officially certified as an Approved Veterinary Assistant.
The second way to obtain NAVTA certification in Alabama is by acquiring significant real-world experience, either through an externship (temporary workplace training that often precedes employment), as an experiential learner (working half-time performing a full range of veterinary assistant duties) or through a field-based Veterinary Assistant Program where the applicant receives credit for working full-time in the field. Again, applicants can take the NAVTA national test after the completion of their learning period. If they pass they will gain recognition as an Approved Veterinary Assistant qualified for employment in Alabama.
While it is not necessary to be certified by NAVTA to secure employment as a veterinary assistant, it is surely an advantage for those who hope to maximize their employment and earning prospects.
Veterinary Technician National Exam
In addition to certification through NAVTA, aspiring veterinary technicians in Alabama can take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and become certified as a licensed veterinary technician.
The VTNE is offered twice a year by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). It consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as anatomy, physiology, laboratory procedures, pharmacology, and dental principles.
Those who pass this exam become certified as licensed veterinary technicians, a distinction that carries more responsibilities and potentially higher salaries than would be available to those without the certification.
In order to qualify for the VTNE in Alabama, applicants must have completed an accredited veterinary technology program or a NAVTA-approved program. Additionally, some states require that applicants provide proof of sufficient real-world experience in the field prior to taking the VTNE.
Regardless of their decision regarding certification, individuals who complete veterinary assistant training should be prepared for an exciting and rewarding career in veterinary medicine. Veterinary assistants are an essential part of any animal care team, and with the right training and experience, they can play an integral role in providing quality care to animals in need.
American Veterinary Medical Association
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the national organization that sets standards for the practice of veterinary medicine in the United States. The AVMA accredits and oversees programs throughout the country, including those offering training to aspiring veterinary assistants.
Accreditation by the AVMA ensures that a program has met certain criteria, such as providing quality instruction and adhering to ethical standards. Those who attend an AVMA-accredited program can be confident that they are receiving the highest quality education available in the field of veterinary medicine.
Veterinary assistants must stay abreast of the latest developments in veterinary science and medicine to remain competitive in the field. To this end, many states require that veterinary assistants complete a certain number of hours of continuing education (CE) courses each year. These courses can be taken online or through seminars and workshops offered by professional organizations like the NAVTA or the AVMA.
By investing in continuing education, veterinary assistants can stay ahead of the curve and remain knowledgeable about recent advances in the field. Additionally, taking CE courses is often a prerequisite for recertification and maintaining licensure, so it’s essential to plan ahead and ensure that your professional development is on track.
Salaries for Vet Assistants
The mean salary for a full-time veterinary assistant in Alabama is $28,080, which is approximately two thousand dollars below the national mean. About 10 percent of veterinary assistants in Alabama earn more than $30, 000 a year, and in general jobs with higher wages are more likely to be found in cities distrained Ham, Montgomery, or Huntsville than in rural areas or small towns.
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Working as a Veterinary Assistant in Alabama
The demand for veterinary assistants is expected to grow nationally at rates that far exceed the average for most jobs. Alabama residents trained as veterinary assistants will be qualified for employment in private veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters, and zoos or educational institutions. Because worker turnover in the field is fairly high, opportunities are usually available to Alabama job applicants who are willing to relocate.
The number of institutions that train veterinary assistants in Alabama is expanding, and if you are interested in pursuing this career you should have multiple options to choose from as you search for the right veterinary assistant training program.
Veterinary Assistant Schools in Alabama
Huntsville, AL Area
Ross Medical Education Center-Huntsville
930 Old Monrovia Road, NW, Huntsville, Alabama 35806-2509
Ross Medical Education Center’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is taught at their Huntsville campus in the city of Huntsville, Alabama. The cost of tuition for the Vet Tech program is usually about $14,200 per year. Typically, the program is completed in 9 months.
* Tuition fees and accreditation status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with the college before applying.