What is the difference between a vet tech and a vet assistant?

In the world of veterinary medicine, few roles are as important as the veterinarian technician, or vet tech. While there are other key players in a veterinary hospital or clinic, the vet tech and the veterinarian are typically the ones most directly responsible for administering and monitoring pet health. If you are interested in a career in veterinary medicine and are not certain what the difference between vet tech and vet assistant is, this article is for you. If you already know you want to become a vet tech, search for vet tech schools near you today!

Amount of Education

The elemental difference between vet tech and vet assistant is the amount of veterinary-specific schooling a vet tech has under his or her belt. Veterinary technicians are graduates of a two-year program, typically accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and in many instances, have an additional license or credential administered to them by the state in which they live. Veterinary assistants, on the other hand, are not required to have a degree or certification. Most vet assistants receive their training on the job by learning under the veterinarian or vet tech.


Veterinary tecnician BLS data: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292056.htm
 Veterinary assistant BLS data: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319096.htm#nat

Job Tasks

Job requirements and duties also signify the difference between vet tech and vet assistant. Vet techs, since they have gone through medical training, have the larger responsibility of administering medicine, analyzing lab results, assisting with surgeries, performing anesthesia and taking x-rays.

Vet assistants usually perform non medical procedures such as administrative work, scheduling appointments, holding an animal in an examination room, sterilizing and prepping the surgical areas, tending to animals’ food, water and bathroom needs, and some light medicinal tasks such as applying topical medication or dressing and cleaning a wound.


Another difference between vet tech and vet assistant is the salary. On average, veterinary technicians make around three to four more dollars per hour than vet assistants. The future job market for a vet tech is also a bit brighter as there is an increasing need for qualified vet technicians, as well as a higher incidence of raises in pay and job advancement for a vet tech.


Either way, if you love animals and want to work in the veterinary field, both jobs hold high appeal. The question as to whether a job as a vet tech or a vet assistant is right for you is something you can answer depending on what type of work you want to do and how long you want to stay in the field.

If you’d like more information on becoming a vet tech, check out vet tech schools in your area.

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