Difference between a Vet Tech and a Vet Assistant

Updated on June 28, 2018

Even though a vet tech and a vet assistant work closely together, they assume different roles and responsibilities. This article draws the line between these two occupations.

Summary Table

Vet TechVet Assistant
Required to complete a veterinary technology programUsually required to undergo formal training provided by a vocational school, a community college, or any post-secondary institution
Educational requirement can be completed in two yearsFormal training can be completed in 6 months to a year
Required to pass the Veterinary Technician National ExamDoes not require any licensure exam
Carries out advanced technical and clinical tasksNot allowed to carry out advanced technical and clinical tasks
Qualified to perform an x-ray, analyze tissue samples, and take a patient’s medical history in the presence of a veterinarianMainly responsible for performing clerical work and equipment maintenance
Entry-level median salary reaches $27,000Entry-level median salary reaches $23,000
Can eventually pursue courses in veterinary or animal scienceCan eventually become a vet tech by taking the necessary program and passing the licensure exam

Definitions

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A vet tech, also called a veterinary technician, is highly specialized in providing technical support for all areas of animal care.

Meanwhile, a vet assistant is a trained individual who assumes clinical and clerical responsibilities in an animal care and rehabilitation setting.

Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant

Although both play a critical role in animal care and rehabilitation, there is a major difference between a vet tech and a vet assistant.

Education

Between the two, a vet tech has a higher educational requirement since the job necessitates a specialized skill set. The road to becoming a vet tech typically involves completing a veterinary technology program that takes two years for full-time students. Aside from covering advanced subjects such as animal pharmacology and vet pathology, a vet tech must also complete a definite number of observation hours to graduate from the program.

A vet assistant, on the other hand, does not need a college degree. However, vet assistants are usually required to undergo formal training provided by a vocational school, a community college, or any post-secondary institution. Most programs last anywhere from 6 months and 1 year.

Licensure

After completing a veterinary technology program, a vet tech must obtain certification by passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam. A vet assistant, by contrast, does not need to pass any licensure test.

Job Scope

A vet tech and a vet assistant may work hand in hand to provide holistic care to animals, but they assume different responsibilities in the workplace. A vet tech, as the name implies, is responsible for carrying out complex technical and clinical responsibilities. Vet technicians help the veterinarian in diagnosing and rendering advanced medical care to animals. They are also qualified to perform x-rays, analyze tissue samples, and take a patient’s medical history in the presence of a veterinarian.

A vet assistant, by comparison, has more limitations in the clinical setting. Instead of performing advanced clinical tasks, vet assistants are mainly in charge of performing clerical duties such as customer service and equipment maintenance. Additionally, a vet assistant is responsible for the cleaning and sanitation of cages and tests rooms, along with the feeding of animals.

Salary

Vet techs have a higher salary range compared to vet assistants. Based from studies conducted in April 2018, the entry-level median salary of vet techs reaches $27,000, while vet assistants have a median salary of around $23,000. The salary for both occupations increases, depending on working experience.

Career Path

Gaining experience as a vet assistant can be a great preparation for individuals who plan to become a vet tech. A vet tech, on the other hand, can continue taking higher education by pursuing courses in veterinary or animal science.

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