Vet Tech Schools in Alabama
Alabama veterinary technicians are state-licensed. The state has delineated tasks that qualified techs may carry out when working under direct veterinarian supervision: duties as advanced as collecting or administering blood, suturing skin lacerations, and assisting the vet with surgical procedures. There is an additional list of duties – quite a long one – that vet techs may perform under indirect supervision, provided that the animal they are working with is not under anesthesia. Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) represents a major step up from assistant. Veterinary practices may utilize unlicensed assistants, but in a more limited capacity; state code also delineates and limits what unlicensed assistants can do.
Alabama Vet Tech Schools
Jefferson State Community College, the state’s oldest program, holds full accreditation through the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. The Jefferson State program is a distance program that enrolls students throughout Alabama. A vet tech student will need a relationship with a veterinarian facility within the state. He or she must be available to work 20 hours a week (whether paid or working in a volunteer capacity). A candidate will submit a recommendation from a veterinarian as part of the application process; currently, this is done after completion of at least 360 hours of volunteer or paid experience.
Coastal Alabama Community College, located in Bay Minette, offers an Associate in Applied Science. Clinical experiences take place in Mobile County or Baldwin County; this as of 2019. The school will place students who do not already have pre-approved placements. The program is hybrid with on-campus requirements only a few times each term. Hands-on experience will require additional travel. Coastal Alabama Community College earned its initial accreditation through the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities in 2015. The program is 74 credits.
Becoming a Vet Tech in Alabama
The Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners licenses the state’s veterinarian technicians. A prospective licensee will need to complete a program that is accredited by the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities or is otherwise Board-approved. As of 2019, there are two accredited in-state programs. Both in-state programs award degrees at the associate’s level. Both set basic prerequisite requirements.
State code stipulates that candidates will pass a Board-approved exam. Currently the exam is the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The VTNE is administered around the nation during three testing windows.
Additional requirements include having attained the age of at least 18 and having good character.
Application for examination and eventual licensure may take place before graduation. A candidate will document examination eligibility to the Alabama Board.
Licensing is renewed annually. There is a small continuing education requirement (http://www.alabamavettech.com/ce-requirements-for-alabama.html).
Veterinarian Technician Salary and Career Outlook
Full-time Alabama veterinarian technicians had an average annual salary of $31,480 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is based on an hourly average wage of $15.13. Those at the high end of the scale were making more than twice what those at the low end were. The 10th percentile full-time salary was $21,780; the 90th percentile salary, $45,540.
Alabama’s veterinary tech occupation is expected to see 16% growth across the 2016 to 2026 decade.
Jefferson State Community College has provided information to the public indicating that veterinary technology is an area of high need within the state.
State code describes a variety of different types of veterinary facilities, including satellite or mobile small animal clinics, mobile large animal clinics, veterinary hospitals or clinics, central hospitals, and specialty practices.
Alabama’s vet techs may work for major animal hospitals and veterinarian networks like Banfield Pet Hospital, VCA Animal Hospitals, and Southern Veterinarian Partners. Southern Veterinarian Partners was named one of Birmingham’s fastest growing companies in 2017 (https://www.southernvetpartnersllc.com/southern-veterinary-partners-one-of-birminghams-fastest-growing-companies.html). Though based in Birmingham, it has locations in other Southern states as well as other Alabama cities.
There are also many local veterinary practices. Positions are varied. Among those advertising in the spring of 2019 was a growing organization that provides spay/ neuter services.
Some veterinary practices seek prior vet tech experience while others take on new grads. There are businesses that will consider either veterinarian technicians or assistants. In some cases, they can provide the clinical experiences necessary to achieve licensure. In other instances, they are a back-up plan for individuals who have already achieved licensure, though these businesses may have less wage growth potential.
Veterinarian technicians may aspire to work for employers where there is significant salary growth potential as well as opportunity for specialization. Auburn University was also among those advertising in 2019. Here vet techs are recognized at different levels. Qualified individuals were sought to assist with client care at the veterinary teaching hospital and carry out other vet tech duties. Duties could be in areas like equine care or oncology.
Students and Professional Resources
The Alabama Veterinarian Technicians Association is a resource for the state’s vet techs and aspiring vet techs (http://www.alabamavettech.com/home.html). AVTA holds a fall continuing education event. Student membership is free. Individuals will find resources specifically geared toward students such as scholarship information.
The Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (http://www.asbvme.alabama.gov), the state’s licensing authority, can be reached at 334-395-5112. Upcoming registration deadlines are posted on the Board website. Application materials are also available (http://www.asbvme.alabama.gov/Forms.aspx).