In the Heart of Dixie, there’s not only a rich abundance of wildlife, but also a wealth of clinics, sanctuaries, and organizations which promote animal welfare. The Alabama Animal Alliance, Inc.—a nonprofit organization offering spay and neuter services and vaccinations to local animals—reports that communities spend millions of dollars each year controlling unwanted animals.
Despite the many animal welfare groups and humane societies—a list that includes the Montgomery Humane Society, the Southeast German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) Rescue, and the Lee County Humane Society—there is still a lot of work to be done to promote adoptions, no-kill sheltering, and widespread animal healthcare. One way to become involved in addressing these problems is to become a veterinary technician.
So what is a veterinary technician (vet tech)? And what is the scope of practice for these professionals within the state of Alabama (AL)? Some of the responsibilities taught in training are how to restrain animals during common procedures; assist veterinarians with surgery, anesthesia, radiology, dentistry, and first aid of animal patients; maintain detailed medical records of patients; manage a veterinary clinic and keep an inventory of supplies; sterilize equipment and facilities; collect and process lab samples to help diagnose conditions; and educate pet owners about proper animal care and nutrition.
According to the Alabama Veterinary Technician Association (AVTA), the Alabama Veterinary Practice Act (section 34-29-94) establishes some of the restrictions on what vet techs can and cannot do for veterinary patients within the state of Alabama. Under indirect supervision of a veterinarian, vet techs in Alabama may perform teeth cleaning, enemas, electrocardiography, bandage application, catheter insertion, ear flushes, preparation of surgical sites, diagnostic imaging, medical injections, oral medication administration, tissue collections, routine procedures (e.g., hematology, exfoliative cytology, serology, urinalysis, etc.), euthanasia administration, and removal of foreign objects from the skin. Under direct supervision of a veterinarian, vet techs may perform blood collection and administration, endotracheal intubation, fluid aspiration, intraperitoneal injections, splint application, patient monitoring, and anesthesia administration.
Additionally, vet techs may assist with surgeries and diagnoses under the immediate supervision of a vet, and are required to display their licenses within place of employment. Interestingly, if an Alabama veterinarian employs an unlicensed vet tech within his or her clinic, it is the veterinarian who may be guilty of a misdemeanor. Therefore, licensure is necessary for vet techs in AL prior to practice.
Read on to discover the bright career outlook for vet techs in AL, as well as to examine the variety of accredited veterinary technology programs and how to become professionally licensed.
|School Website||main address||online program||Avma Accredited|
|Coastal Alabama Community College (formerly named Faulkner State Community College)||1900 U.S. Highway 31 South, Bay Minette, Alabama, 36507||No||Yes|
|Jefferson State Community College||2601 Carson Rd, Birmingham, Alabama, 35215-3098||Yes||Yes|
AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Programs in Alabama
Fortunately for prospective veterinary technicians in AL, there are several qualified vet techs schools to get them on the road to licensure. Students are encouraged to seek our programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) primary accrediting body for vet tech programs.
For candidates in AL who graduate from a program not approved by the AVMA, they may apply to have their education recognized by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME). For more information on professional licensure and the program accreditation process, please reference the sections below.
In order to gain entry to a CVTEA-accredited program, students must typically complete an application, send official high school transcripts with proof of specific coursework (e.g., English, algebra, biology, computers, etc.), write a personal statement, submit test scores (e.g., TOEFL for non-native speakers of English), provide proof of immunizations or health insurance, and pay an application fee. It may also enhance one’s application to have verifiable experience working with animals. Some programs also ask for candidate interviews or letters of recommendation.
In AL, there are two CVTEA-accredited programs. Coastal Alabama Community College (formerly Faulkner State) of Bay Minette provides an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology. This program has courses such as anatomy & physiology of mammals; clinical procedures & pathology; anesthesia & diagnostic imaging; animal pharmacology & toxicology; and hands-on training through a local preceptorship.
Additionally, Coastal Alabama Community College boasts the state-of-the-art Sun Chief Residential Life and Learning Center for student accommodations, as well as opportunities for vet techs such as various scholarships. Between 2017 and 2020, 77 percent of Coastal Alabama Community College graduates passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) – the national exam for vet tech certification – on the first try.
The other CVTEA-accredited program in Alabama, offered by Jefferson State Community College, is described further in the section that follows since it is a distance learning program.
Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs
For some people in AL, it may be difficult to attend the accredited program at Coastal Alabama Community College. For people with restrictions related to time or distance, attending an online vet tech program is one option. Online vet tech programs generally involve the completion of web-based coursework in addition to clinical preceptorships (i.e., hands-on training under licensed professionals) at local sites. Notably, one of the eight CVTEA-accredited, distance-based programs is in Alabama.
Jefferson State Community College (JSCC) of Birmingham offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in veterinary technology with classes such as vet tech emergency & first aid; clinical procedures & pathology; animal diseases & immunology; anesthesia & diagnostic imaging; and vet microbiology & toxicology. Impressively, a reported 100 percent of JSCC vet tech program graduates receive employment after graduation.
This program is ideal for students employed in animal healthcare, as applicants must have at least 360 hours of practical experience prior to enrollment. Other application requirements for Jefferson State include two letters of recommendation and a personal interview. Clinical preceptorships must be completed within AL as well. First-time VTNE pass rates between 2016 and 2019 for Jefferson State Graduate was 67 percent.
Northern Virginia Community College-Loudon (NOVA) offers a part-time, three-year online AAS program in veterinary technology to people employed at least 20 hours weekly in an approved veterinary facility. Distance-based classes at NOVA include mathematics for allied health, animal breeds & behavior, animal pharmacology, animal dentistry, and clinical pathology. Please note that this web-based program requires two to three visits to the Loudoun, Virginia campus per semester, and there may be more.
Application preference may be given to Virginia-based students. Interested AL residents are encouraged to reach out to the admissions office to determine eligibility. Between 2017 and 2020,77.12 percent of on-campus program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt. Online NOVA students performed better on their first try, with a three-year first-time pass rate of 84.62.
St. Petersburg College (SPC) of Florida offers an associate in science (AS) degree in veterinary technology with advanced training in surgical preparation, nursing, radiology, dentistry, and laboratory testing. Classes include exotic pet medicine, veterinary medical terminology, vet office procedures, animal nursing, and animal diseases.
This program begins in August, January, and May each year, and is open to candidates with at least 40 hours of experience working or volunteering in a veterinary hospital. Also, students are expected to work 20 hours weekly in an approved veterinary setting to fulfill clinical requirements. Notably, of the graduates of this 73-credit program, 74 percent passed the VTNE on their first attempt between 2016 and 2019.
To learn more about distance-based vet tech programs, check out the online veterinary technician programs page.
Career Outlook for Vet Techs in Alabama
In the Yellowhammer State, the job field looks bright for vet techs for several reasons. First, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) predicts that openings nationwide for veterinary technicians and technologists will swell 16 percent between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the growth anticipated for all jobs during that time period (4 percent). This addition of 18,300 new jobs for vet techs is good news for qualified candidates.
According to the most recent data from Projections Central (2021)—a data organization sponsored by the US Department of Labor—the growth in opportunities in Alabama is expected to be on par with nationwide figures. It predicts that positions for vet techs in Alabama will increase 15.7 percent between 2018 and 2028, a potential increase of 170 fresh job openings in this field around the state. Vet techs occupy the tenth fastest-growing career for people with associate degrees in Alabama.
Alabama Vet Tech Salary
As mentioned above, opportunities for veterinary technicians are expected to increase substantially in coming years, especially relative to other occupations. What about salary prospects around the country and in AL? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), the 109,490 vet techs nationwide had an average annual salary of $37,860.
The following table shows how vet tech salaries in Alabama compare to national averages at several different earning levels:
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||1,060|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$30,980|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$29,440|
While it is clear that salaries in Alabama fall below the national figures, this may be due to the reality that Alabama’s cost of living is more affordable than most other states. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021), AL is the sixth-cheapest state in which to live. Folks living in Alabama experience particular savings when it comes to housing and transportation.
Where Do Vet Techs In Alabama Work?
In Alabama, vet techs are employed in a diversity of environments such as animal clinics (private, public, or specialty), veterinary hospitals, zoos, aquariums, kennels, shelters, adoption centers, universities, research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, farms, laboratories, and more. Many vet techs work normal business hours, but due to the sometimes irregular needs of animal healthcare, they may be called to work weekends, holidays, or evenings as well.
Many aspiring vet techs in AL may be able to connect with job opportunities through traditional job-hunting services such as Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn, and Monster. Others may find openings on iHireVeterinary at facilities such as VCA Antech, Inc., JBS USA, and the Medvet Medical and Cancer Centers for Pets.
Additionally, the Alabama Veterinary Technician Association (AVTA) offers a career opportunities board with positions at facilities such as Riverview Animal Clinic, Caldwell Mill Animal Clinic, Liberty Animal Hospital, Eastmont Animal Clinic, Birmingham Zoo, Lake Crest Animal Hospital, and VCA Becker Animal Hospital, to name a few.
Finally, some vet techs may choose to specialize in order to advance their skills in one area of interest. There are several academies and societies designated by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) such as anesthesia, dermatology, critical care, zoological medicine, equine medicine, animal behavior, nutrition, rehabilitation, and more.
To learn more about how to become a veterinary technician specialist (VTS), visit the main vet tech career page.
|Veterinary Career||Alabama Jobs||Salary Data (BLS 2020)|
|Low Salary (10TH %ILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH %ILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH %ILE)|
Vet Tech Licensing in Alabama
As mentioned in the introduction, according to the Alabama Veterinary Practice Act, AL veterinarians who employ non-licensed vet techs are guilty of a misdemeanor. In fact, the vet tech license must be displayed openly in the individual’s place of employment. Therefore, professional licensure is necessary for practice as a veterinary technician in this state.
Here are the typical steps to become a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) in Alabama:
- Graduate from high school completing coursework in English, chemistry, biology, and algebra
- Graduate from a two- to four-year veterinary technology program, ideally accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) of the American Veterinary Medical Association
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) with a score of at least 70 percent
- Apply for state licensure through the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME)
In its LVT application, the ASBVME asks for:
- A notarized application
- Proof of having graduated from an AVMA-accredited program, or submitting an alternate program in veterinary technology for ASBVME approval
- Documentation of US citizenship (or lawful presence)
- Two photos
- $100 fee
- Successful passing of the VTNE and the AL State Board Written Examination
These licenses are valid for one year and must be renewed following the completion of eight hours of continuing education (CE), according to the Alabama Continuing Veterinary Medical Education Standards. Six hours of the CE must comprise seminars, programs, courses, or other sessions affiliated with an approved veterinary organization or school. The remaining two hours can come from local meetings or other qualifying activities. Finally, the Alabama Veterinary Technician Association (AVTA) offers resources for licensees interested in CE opportunities.
Vet Tech Program Accreditation
Although vet tech candidates can submit non-accredited programs to the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME) for approval, it is recommended to enroll in an accredited program for several reasons. First, graduating from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) program-approval body—the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)—is a prerequisite to credentialing in most states. Second, it’s a possibility that a program which is not AVMA-accredited will not be approved by the ASBVME, therefore disqualifying the candidate from taking the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) and barring professional licensure. Therefore, seeking out AVMA-accredited programs is important.
The CVTEA weighs the following 11 factors in its standards of accreditation:
- Institutional accreditation (e.g., CHEA-recognized organizations)
- Organization & communications
- Facilities and equipment quality
- Resources for clinical training
- Libraries and other resources
- Admissions processes
- Faculty and staff
- Outcomes assessment
For more details on how each of these categories is evaluated, please visit the CVTEA accreditation page.