Similarities and Differences Between Vet Assistants and Vet Technicians

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Many people are interested in veterinary practice.

And one of their frequently asked questions involved veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants.

Maybe it’s because these two fields perform almost the same job and duties in a veterinary facility.

Despite them working with and assisting veterinarians, they have their differences as well.

We understand that a full understanding of the two is important for you.

So we provide you with information to help you differentiate the two.

And in doing so, we’re able to help you choose a career that suits your needs and interests.

Read on to learn the similarities and differences between a vet tech and a vet assistant.

Similarities, Differences, and Overlap

taking care of animals

Both vet techs and assistants work closely with veterinarians performing similar tasks.

In fact, their similarities are numerous and people often get confused about them.

Well, for one:

  • Both assist the vet
  • Neither may diagnose animals nor prescribe medication/treatment
  • Can be employed in the same animal care facilities, like animal shelters, vet clinics, zoos, etc.

On the other hand, their differences lie in:

  • Requirements
  • Responsibilities
  • Scope of practice
  • Training

For instance, in regards to education, vet assistants only need a high school diploma or GED.

But for vet techs, they need an associate’s degree from an accredited college or university.

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Vet Assistant vs. Vet Tech

In this section, we provided a comparison of both careers.

This way, you’d get an overview of the similarities and differences of the two based on several factors.

Keep in mind that both are growing and in-demand careers.

Still, this doesn’t guarantee your employment opportunities in the future.

A Side-by-Side Comparison

Factor Vet Assistant Vet Tech
Average annual pay* $29,930 $36,260
Projected job growth* 14% by 2030 15% by 2030
Number of employed professionals* 107,200 114,400
Average number of jobs available each year* 19,800 10,400
Entry-level educational attainment** High school diploma or equivalent GED Associate’s degree
Program/course details Hands-on experience on:

  • Assisting vets
  • Dealing with animals

Proficiency in:

  • Administrative skills
  • Communication skills
Attend courses, including:

  • Biology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Toxicology
  • Animal health nutrition
  • Veterinary pharmacology

Specializations require additional courses.

School accreditation Approved by NAVTA Accredited by the AVMA
Certification or license requirements Pass the Approved Veterinary Assistant exam by NAVTA Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination
Renewal requirements for certification or license
  • Every two years from the date of exam completion
  • At least 10 hours of continuing education
  • Every two years from the date of exam completion
  • At least 20 hours of continuing education
Practice supervision Under licensed vets and/or vet techs Under licensed vets
Duties and responsibilities
  • Restrain animals when required
  • Monitor animals recovering from surgery
  • Assist vets in examining animals
  • Clean or maintain kennels and animal holding areas
  • Administer first-aid to animals
  • Maintain drug inventory
  • Care for and monitor the animals’ conditions
  • Restrain animals during procedures or exams
  • Administer anesthesia
Tools and equipment used Proficiency in:

  • Office suite software
  • Spreadsheet
  • Medical software
  • Label-making software

Requires additional training and supervision to operate machinery like:

  • Animal shearing or clipping equipment
  • Urinalysis analyzers
  • Medical x-ray units for general diagnostic use
  • Medical x-ray film or cassette
  • Veterinary injection or suction units or accessories
  • Animal husbandry equipment
  • Animal catching devices
  • Nebulizer and its accessories
  • Laryngoscopes and their accessories
  • Emergency medical suction units or accessories
Opportunities for specialization None Yes

*Data taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2020 report
**Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation


at the vet clinic

As you can see, there’s a fine line between a vet assistant and a vet tech.

At first glance, they appear the same, but when you pick out the details, you’d see the difference.

We hope the information you received here helps you in your career choices.

For more information about these two careers, check out these pages: