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 Assistant Programs
There are no specific educational or certification requirements to become a veterinary assistant in Alabama. However, the chances of obtaining employment, or of 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 and all duties required of a veterinary assistant.
National Certification for Aspiring Veterinary 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 the 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’s 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 completion of their learning period, and if they pass they will be 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.
Salaries for Vet Assistants
The mean salary for a full-time veterinary assistant in Alabama is $23,100, 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 like Birmingham, 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 by rates that far exceed the average for most jobs. Alabama residents who are trained as veterinary assistants will be qualified for employment in private veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters and in 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.
College and University Listings
930 Old Monrovia Road, NW, Huntsville, Alabama 35806-2509Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
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 accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.