Vet Assistant Vs. Vet Tech – The Key Differences

Veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants both work in the veterinary profession providing animal healthcare services. There are however, distinct differences between the two professions as will be discussed.

Vet assistant vs vet tech – duties

A veterinary assistant is an important member of the veterinary team providing support to licensed veterinarians in the provision of healthcare to animals. The role varies depending on where the individual is employed and may include clinical assistance, front office or a combination of both services that may include feeding, watering, examining and caring for animals, cleaning and disinfecting cages and work spaces, performing sterilization tasks for laboratory and surgical equipment, providing postoperative care, administering medications orally or topically, preparing samples, and any other veterinary related duties they are called upon to perform within the scope of their profession.

Veterinary technicians provide services that are similar in nature to the services provided by the veterinarian they work with. Specific duties vary depending on the employer. Veterinary technicians perform tasks that may include taking blood samples, perform laboratory tests, assisting with surgeries, assisting with dental care, perform diagnostic tests, record patient history, provide nursing care and any other veterinary related duties they are called upon to perform within the scope of their profession.

Vet assistant vs vet tech – education

Veterinary assistants require a high school diploma to purse a diploma or certificate program. There are veterinary assistant training programs offered by various schools that are specifically designed to provide theoretical instruction and clinical experience in animal medicine, laboratory procedures, nursing skills, cleaning, disinfecting, lab sterilization, routine post operative care management among other things with an emphasis on small animal techniques.

Vet tech jobs require an associate’s degree – a two year program or a bachelor’s degree – four year program in veterinary technology to practice the profession.

Vet assistant vs vet tech – credentials

Veterinary assistants generally go straight into a job and gain on-the-job training. Veterinary assistants do not need licensure or credentialing to practice their profession. They can choose to get certified to improve career prospects and as a stepping stone to a veterinary technician’s role.

Veterinary technicians will need to get credentialed to practice the profession via vet tech programs. The first step in the process is to complete an accredited degree program and then take the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam to receive credentialing. All states in America require credentialing by state regulation.

Vet Assistant vs vet tech – salary

Veterinary assistants earned approximately $29,000 per annum in 2009 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Veterinary technicians can earn as much as $50,000 per annum depending on the level of educational qualifications earned and the work experience.

Vet Assistant vs vet tech – career progression

A veterinary assistant can pursue higher education such as an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree to move into a veterinary technician position.

A veterinary technician starts out with an associate’s degree, a minimum require and can pursue higher education such as a master’s degree or a PhD to move up the career ladder.

A veterinary assistant position is a junior entry level one, where the individual works under a veterinarian. On the other hand, the veterinary technician works with a veterinarian performing for the most part similar tasks.

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