Similarities and Differences Between Vet Assistants And Vet Technicians

A very frequent question that people interested in veterinary science ask is related to vet technicians and assistants, due to the fact that they consider them to perform the same job and duties in a veterinary facility.

However, it is true that there are similarities between these two professions as they both work with and assist veterinarians but there are many differences as well.

Students interested in veterinary medicine who cannot meet the educational requirements associated with the career of a veterinarian are frequently interested in becoming a veterinary assistant or veterinary technician instead.

Similarities, Differences, and Overlap

Both veterinary technicians and assistants work closely with veterinary doctors, and both may perform similar tasks.

What makes these two roles different are requirements, responsibilities, and scope of practice, as well as a necessary education and training prior yo start practicing.

Having in mind the fact that a full understanding of each is important for someone deciding between the two, we made this article which will help you differentiate and choose a career that suits your needs and interests.

The similarities between the roles and responsibilities of veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants are numerous, and it is expected that people often confuse them.

What is similar is that both technicians and assistants assist the veterinarian and neither of them may diagnose illnesses, nor may they prescribe treatment or medication for animals.

Due to the fact that both veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants work directly with veterinarians, they can look for a job in a similar setting, such as animal clinics, shelters, zoos, or other animal hospitals.

On the other hand, what makes these two professions different are the responsibilities and qualifications.

First, while veterinary assistants do not need any specific licensure prior to starting working except obtaining a high school diploma (or GED), veterinary technicians must obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a two- or four-year college or university.

This is not all, they need to further pass a credentialing examination, as described by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA).

Vet Tech Vs. Vet Assistant: Comparison

What we wanted to provide you with is the Side-By-Side Comparison of Vet Techs and Vet Assistants.

That way we would like to emphasize the similarities and differences between veterinary assistants and veterinary technicians.

The two professions will be compared on the bases of various fields.

However, what you need to keep in mind is that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for veterinary technologists and technicians is projected at 19% over the next decade, while this number is only 9% for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers.

It can be concluded that both are growing careers, but the demand for vet techs is much greater.

Still, this does not guarantee your future employment opportunities.

A number of employed professionals:

  • Veterinary Technician – there are more than 95,600 veterinary technicians working in the U.S.
  • Veterinary Assistant – more than 73,400 veterinary assistants are employed in the U.S


  • Veterinary Technician – The average salary for veterinary technicians is $31,070 per year
  • Veterinary Assistant – According to the statistics, the average wage for veterinary assistants is $23,790 per year or $11.44 per hour.

Job Growth:

  • Veterinary Technician – Based on the statistics, from 2014 to 2024, there was a projected employment growth of 19 percent.
  • Veterinary Assistant – It is expected growth in job opportunities in this field from 2014 to 2024 which will be around 9%.

A number of New Positions Available:

  • Veterinary Technician – 17,900
  • Veterinary Assistant – 6,600

Degree Requirements:

  • Veterinary Technician – So as to become veterinary technicians, applicants must first obtain an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology, and only then will they be allowed to work in the field.
  • Veterinary Assistant – Veterinary assistants are not required to possess any higher education beyond a high school diploma (or GED).


  • Veterinary Technician – A veterinary technician can seek either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree but what they need to have in mind is that those individuals with a four-year degree usually receive higher salaries, have more job opportunities, and a greater level of job responsibilities.
  • Veterinary Assistant – A veterinary assistant has the option of pursuing a degree in any field and at any level even though this is not a prerequisite to work in this field. They can enroll in some training programs which are undergraduate certificate programs, or they can choose to be trained on the job.

Program Details:

  • Veterinary Technician – Once enrolled in a veterinary technician program, you will need to attend courses on a variety of subjects, including biology, pathology, medical math and terminology, physiology, veterinary pharmacology, toxicology, animal nutrition, and numerous other courses related to animal health. Those who chose specializations may take additional courses on various subjects.
  • Veterinary Assistant – Students of a veterinary assistant program will be provided with hands-on experience assisting veterinarians and dealing with animals. The studies will be also focused on other skills needed for this job, such as administrative skills, communication skills needed for interaction with clients, and they will learn how to keep an orderly veterinary office.

School Accreditation:

  • Veterinary Technician – Schools can have probationary accreditation, initial accreditation, or full accreditation by applying through the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
  • Veterinary Assistant -Even though there is no accreditation process for veterinary assistant schools, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has a list of approved veterinary assistant programs from which students can choose the one that suits them best.


  • Veterinary Technician – In the majority of states, there is a requirement of attending accredited vet tech programs so as to ger certified. Each state regulates veterinary technicians differently but what is similar in most of them is that candidates must take and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination, which is offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Then, each state has a board that will license potential candidates.
  • Veterinary Assistant –  There is no licensing or certification requirement for veterinary assistants.

Re-licensing or Re-certification:

  • Veterinary Technician – In the majority of states, a veterinary technician does not finish his/her studies with certification. Actually, he/she may have to pursue re-licensing or re-certification on a routine basis, and this can be achieved only if he/she meets the continuing education requirements of their individual state’s licensing board.
  • Veterinary Assistant – Due to the fact that there is no certification requirement for veterinary assistants, there is no re-certification process either.

Practice Framework:

  • Veterinary Technician – According to AVMA, all veterinary technicians are allowed to work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
  • Veterinary Assistant – Veterinary assistants are supposed to work under the supervision of a veterinary technician or licensed veterinarian.

Tools and Equipment Used:

  • Veterinary Technician -When tools and equipment is in question, veterinary technicians should expect to use the following while working: Animal catching devices, Animal husbandry equipment, Emergency medical services suction units or accessories, Laryngoscopes, or accessories, Nebulizer or accessories, etc. Those veterinary technicians who choose to specialize in any field related to veterinary science may become proficient at operating a wider array of equipment or machinery such as those tools used in veterinary dental medicine or those who pursue a veterinary surgery specialization may receive training regarding the use of surgical instruments as well. In addition, they will need to be skilled in using the following types of technology: Database user interface and query software, E-mail software, Medical software, Office suite software, Spreadsheet software, to mention a few.
  • Veterinary Assistant – Very similar to veterinary technician, veterinary assistants will likely use a variety of different tools and equipment during their work such as Animal shearing or clipping equipment, Medical x-ray film or cassette, Medical x-ray units for general diagnostic use, Urinalysis analyzers, Veterinary injection or suction units or accessories, etc. So as to be allowed to use all of the above mentioned and many other more advanced tools, a veterinary assistant may require additional training in order to operate some of the machinery. Furthermore, their use of any of these tools has to be supervised by a trained veterinarian. Also, veterinary assistants should be successful in using types of technology, including office suite software, spreadsheet software, medical software, and label making software, in some cases.

Opportunities for Specialization:

  • Veterinary Technician – What is very common in this profession is that students of veterinary technology decide to pursue a number of specialties, including veterinary dental medicine, veterinary surgery, veterinary nutrition, animal behavior, emergency, and critical care, and many others.
  • Veterinary Assistant –  Unfortunately, taking into consideration the fact that there is no formal association required for veterinary assistants, specialization is generally not available. However, the experienced vet assistants may be assigned responsibilities of varying levels regardless of his or her education.


  • Veterinary Technician – Some of the responsibilities of a veterinary technician are the following: Administering first-aid to animals in need, Maintaining a controlled drug inventory, Caring for and monitoring the condition of animals, Restraining animals during exams or procedures, Administering amnesia to animals and many more.
  • Veterinary Assistant – These are only some of the responsibilities is a veterinary assistant while on the job: Holding or restraining animals when required, Monitoring animals recovering from surgery,  Assisting veterinarians in examining animals, Cleaning or maintaining kennels and animal holding areas, just to mention a few.
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