Difference Between Vet Tech and Vet Assistant

In this article, we’ve dwelt on two vet specializations; vet tech and vet assistant. The objective is to highlight the differences between them.

This is in response to confusion in distinguishing one specialist from the other. This article is for you if you’ve had such disorders, determining each role.

Vet Tech vs. Vet Assistant

The veterinary practice relies on many vet specialists trained in a specific area or field.

These handle all aspects of the practice, thus providing optimal medical care. Vet professionals work in a variety of settings that include farms, research labs, and zoos, amongst other places.

  • Veterinary Specialties

Before we get into details on the differences between vet tech and vet assistance, it will be proper to give you an idea of how diverse the field is.

Asides from these two specialties, others include animal welfare, anesthesia & analgesia, clinical pharmacology, and behavioral medicine.

More vet specialties include dermatology, dentistry, internal medicine, emergency & critical care, microbiology, and laboratory animal medicine.

Other specialties include ophthalmology, nutrition, poultry vet medicine, pathology, radiology, preventive medicine, sports medicine & rehabilitation.

There are more vet specialties like species-specialized vet practice, theriogenology, surgery, zoological medicine, and toxicology.

While there are trained specialists for each of these, we’re more interested in discussing two of those mentioned earlier; vet tech and vet assistant.

Veterinary Technician vs. Veterinary Assistant

One thing that’s not in doubt is the contribution of both vet techs and vet assistants to veterinary medicine.

Vet techs assist licensed veterinarians with a whole range of tasks. Their roles (vet techs) can be compared to those of nurses, customer service reps, etc.

To be more specific, vet techs assist vets with diagnosing and treating animals. They work in various settings, including research facilities, private clinics, and animal hospitals.

Like other professionals within vet practice, the overall objective of vet techs is animal health and welfare.

Vet assistants, on the other hand, provide a whole range of support services to professionals like vets, technologists, and technicians.

Also called vet aids, these professionals carry out a wide range of duties, including monitoring and caring for animals after surgery.

Vet Techs and Vet Assistants: Know the Differences

To start our discussion, it’s important first to point out the different points of comparison we’ll be using to distinguish vet techs from vet assistants.

These include the pay rate, education, licensing, training, specialty areas, duties, and job outlook.

i. Pay Rate

This is one of the points of distinction between vet techs and vet assistants. Overall, vet techs tend to earn higher annual salaries compared to vet assistants.

However, the difference isn’t that significant. The higher pay vet techs receive is attributed to additional educational requirements.

The journey to becoming a vet tech tends to be more demanding educationally, plus these professionals mainly handle more technical roles.

Speaking of pay rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a vet tech in the United States is around $36,260, while that for vet assistants is about $29,930 per year.

ii. Education

The above point provides an idea of the educational demands between the two.

Vet techs undergo intensive training that spans two years (full-time study). At the end of such activity, students earn a veterinary technology associate’s degree in applied science.

The subjects covered during vet tech training include biochemistry, pathology, animal behavior, clinical practice, and animal pharmacology, among others.

Vet assistants, however, don’t have to earn a college degree.

Instead, they must enroll for certifications in post-secondary schools like community colleges, vocational schools, or technical institutes.

Unlike in vet tech schools, vet assistants study for about six months to a year.

iii. Licensing

To practice or gain employment, vet techs must earn a license. License requirements vary from state to state as Boards of Veterinary Medicine have set standards.

Of course, you’re required to have earned an associate’s degree while also meeting your state’s minimum score to be a licensed vet tech.

Unlike vet techs, vet assistants mostly have no licensing requirements. For the most part, individual employers get to set their criteria for hiring.

On their part, vet techs may decide to earn certifications proving the completion of a training program.

iv. Training

Training is one of the areas where vet techs differ from vet assistants. A minimum num of hours at animal hospitals needs to be clocked.

This gives them experience in handling various tasks, including hands-on training. Skills are also learned during such training processes.

Vet assistants aren’t required to take on added education like vet techs. Mostly, their training is provided in an animal hospital or similar settings.

In other words, on-the-job training is provided for these professionals.

v. Specialty Areas

Because vet techs take on more complex roles, they tend to have opportunities to specialize.

As a vet tech, you choose to specialize in your preferred area of vet medicine. Examples include emergency care, zoological medicine, internal medicine, anesthesia, and dental technology.

There are no such specialties for vet assistants as they only tend to handle a range of tasks or duties, including helping the vet team care.

In a nutshell, there are no specialties for vet assistants.

vi. Duties

Duties for both vet techs and vet assistants differ. For vet techs, their roles tend to be largely medical-related.

Examples include preparing vaccines, taking blood samples, sterilizing equipment, assisting vets during surgery, and taking blood samples.

As expected, vet assistants don’t typically handle technical roles. In other words, their duties are less technical.

These include feeding animals in veterinary care, caretaking, and clerical functions or roles. They also administer post-surgical medical care.

These are critical areas of difference between vet techs and vet assistants. You can make an informed choice by choosing your preferred vet specialization with the knowledge provided.

Overall, it should be one you find exciting and personally rewarding.