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Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant: Differences, Salaries and Duties

The three options available to students who decide to pursue a career in veterinary medicine are veterinarian, vet tech, or vet assistant. Little schooling is necessary for vet technicians and vet assistants to start working and making money. A complete understanding of the Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant controversy will aid in your decision as to which you want to become and the educational paths you should pursue.

Given that they collaborate closely with veterinary doctors and carry out a variety of related duties, it is simple to assume that veterinary technicians and assistants are interchangeable. But they are not the same. When compared to those for veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians have distinct educational requirements, same to their pay.

Therefore, you must comprehend the distinction between the roles of vet tech and vet assistant if you want to maximize your career in the veterinary field with less education. These distinctions, in addition to their pay rates, educational options, and employment opportunities, are detailed in this article.

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Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant

Who is a Vet Tech?

A practitioner with the certification needed to assist animals of all kinds live healthy and happy lives is a veterinary technician. These experts give animals routine and urgent nursing care using their clinical expertise and medical knowledge. They follow the instructions of a veterinarian and resemble nurses in the veterinary field.

What are a Vet Tech’s Duties and Responsibilities?

Under the supervision of a qualified veterinarian, a vet tech performs a wide range of tasks akin to those performed by nurses. In general, a vet tech will carry out any task that a qualified veterinarian assigns to him or her. These duties will differ depending on the states in which they are licensed to operate. The vet tech will not conduct surgery on animals, diagnose medical ailments, or prescribe medications.

The following is a nearly complete list of the tasks a veterinary technician will carry out:

  • Perform x-rays and diagnostic procedures on animals
  • Prepare the surgical animals and equipment.
  • Giving animals drugs, shots, and treatments.
  • Give animals general nursing care or emergency first aid.
  • Observe and document the actions and health of animals.
  • Stifle animals for testing or treatment
  • Helping the veterinary doctor with his or her treatments, administer anesthetic.
  • Compile and keep track of animal case histories.
  • Inform animal owners on how to care for their homes
  • Aid scientists and veterinarians in their scientific research

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Who is a Veterinary Assistant?

Like the vet tech, veterinary assistants provide care for animals. They are nonetheless guided in their work by a veterinarian or veterinary technician. As a result, the vet technician assistant is a common name for the vet assistant. They are a little further down the rung on the career ladder for veterinarians. When doing examinations and treatments, they are veterinary professionals who feed, bathe, exercise, and restrain animals.

What are a Vet Assistant’s Responsibilities?

The routine pet care process is something the veterinary assistant is interested in. The following list of duties and job roles for a veterinary assistant is almost complete:

  • Feed animals and monitor their intake.
  • Bathe animals as needed.
  • Take the animals out for a walk.
  • Assist veterinary professionals and lab technicians.
  • Maintain, clean, and sterilize cages, operation rooms, examination rooms, and pet kennels.
  • During inspections and treatment, reassuring and cuddling animals.
  • In an emergency, administering first aid to pets to keep them stable until the veterinarian can take control.
  • Give drugs to animals.
  • Perform some office work.

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Similarities Between Vet Tech and a Vet Assistant

Because they both work at a veterinary hospital or clinic under the supervision and guidance of the vet doctor, people frequently mistakenly believe that a vet tech and a vet technician are the same. Other resemblances that add to the confusion surrounding the vet tech vs. vet assistant dispute include:

  • A vet tech or a vet assistant cannot identify an animal’s ailment or recommend a course of treatment or medication for it.
  • In the workplace, the duties of a vet tech and a vet assistant are similar. For instance, both of them hold animals for examination and treatment.

There are numerous distinctions between them, though.

Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant: The Differences

The distinctions between a vet tech and a vet assistant are best explained by the following subheadings.


You must first earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology before you can work as a technician. A high school diploma (or GED) is all that is necessary to work as a veterinary assistant.

Veterinary technicians may pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), those with a four-year degree typically earn more money and have more responsibility on the job. On the other hand, a veterinary assistant may decide to obtain a degree in any subject and at any level, albeit this is not a requirement to work in this industry.

The training programs, which are frequently undergraduate certificate programs, are the education most pertinent to the job for a vet assistant. Although veterinary assistants can enroll in these programs in institutions to become veterinary assistants, they might as well get training on the job.

Next, a curriculum for veterinary technicians will include seminars on a range of topics. This covers a variety of animal health-related topics, such as biology, pathology, medical algebra and terminology, physiology, veterinary pharmacology, toxicology, animal nutrition, and others.

On the other side, a veterinary assistant school will give you practical experience working with animals and aiding veterinarians. Additionally, you’ll learn a range of other administrative abilities. This will cover the abilities needed to deal with customers, manage a front desk, and help maintain a clean veterinary clinic.

Last but not least, veterinary technician schools can apply for probationary accreditation through the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), initial accreditation, or full accreditation. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) provides a list of “approved” veterinary assistant programs that will train you in the industry, despite the fact that there is no accreditation procedure for institutions offering vet assistant degrees.

Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant

Assurance and Licensing

A license is necessary to become a vet tech, and veterinary technicians are subject to various state regulations. However, the American Association of Veterinary State Boards offers the Veterinary Technician National Examination, which candidates in the majority of states must take and pass. Your state board that issues licenses to competent vet techs will grant you a practicing permit when you pass the exam. On the other hand, there are no prerequisites for starting out as a vet assistant.

A veterinary technician may frequently need to pursue re-licensing or re-certification, particularly if they have not followed the rules established by the licensing board of their particular state. There is no re-certification procedure because certification is not necessary for veterinary assistants.

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Vet Tech vs. Vet Technician Salary & Job Outlook

The median annual salary for veterinary technologists and technicians was $35,320 in May 2019, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The same BLS reports that in May 2019, the median annual wage for veterinary assistants and people who take care of laboratory animals was $28,590.

BLS predicted that employment for both veterinary technologists and veterinary assistants will increase by 19% between 2018 and 2028. However, the two would not create the same number of new jobs throughout this time.

The BLS reports that there were 109,400 veterinary technicians employed in the United States in 2018 and projects that number to increase by 21,100 between 2018 and 2028. On the other hand, there were 92,200 employed veterinary assistants in the USA in 2018, and the BLS projects that there will be 17,600 new openings for veterinary assistants between 2018 and 2028.

Job Specifics for Vet Techs and Vet Assistants

The duties of the vet technician vary according on the practice, but for the most part, they consist of giving animals in need first assistance, keeping a restricted medicine supply, giving animals amnesia, etc. In contrast, veterinary assistants would be in charge of holding or restraining animals as necessary, keeping an eye on them as they recovered from surgery, helping veterinarians examine animals, etc.

Animal catching devices, animal husbandry tools, emergency medical services suction units or accessories, laryngoscopes or accessories, and nebulizer or accessories are all used by veterinary technicians as part of their job. The Vet tech may then become skilled at operating a greater range of tools or machines based on the specialism they chose to pursue during their study.

On the other hand, a veterinary assistant is likely to carry out their duties using the following equipment: veterinary injection or suction units or accessories, medical x-ray film or cassette, medical x-ray units for general diagnostic use, and animal shearing or clipping equipment. However, a veterinary assistant might not use all of the aforementioned equipment while performing their job, and they could need further training to handle some of the machines later on in their careers.

Finally, there are options for veterinarian technicians to specialize. According to NAVTA, a vet tech has a variety of specialization options, including veterinary dentistry, veterinary surgery, veterinary nutrition, animal behavior, emergency and critical care, among others. In contrast, because there is no official association for veterinary assistants, there is no available specialization in this field.

Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a veterinary assistant?

Caretakers of experimental animals and veterinary assistants often perform the following tasks: Give them food, a wash, and exercise. Cages, kennels, examination and surgery rooms should all be cleaned and disinfected. Animals should be restrained during testing and laboratory operations.

What do veterinary technicians make in Canada?

In Canada, a veterinary technician makes an average salary of $47,394 a year, or $24.30 an hour. Most experienced workers earn up to $54,600 per year, while entry-level roles start at $39,000.

What does Vet PA stand for?

The acronym PA is frequently used in the fields of veterinary medicine and general medical science to refer to the posterior-anterior.

How long is veterinary school in Pennsylvania?

Prior to receiving a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), lucky applicants can anticipate a rigorous 4-year curriculum filled with labs, research, and lectures.


It’s beneficial to be paid for your interests. It is preferable to optimize your interests, nevertheless. You should pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine if you have a deep affection for animals and want to be able to give them the best treatment possible.

The choice between a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician is available if, on the other hand, you wish to enter the veterinary field quickly and begin caring for animals.

Before beginning work, a veterinary technician must complete an associate’s degree program in veterinary technology from a recognized institution. A veterinary assistant, on the other hand, would require a high school diploma or GED as well as additional training to get started.

Vet techs will undoubtedly make more money than vet assistants, so carefully consider your options and pick the one that best suits you.



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