Difference Between a Veterinarian and a Veterinary Technician

Veterinarian and veterinary technician—for the general population, they’re just the same.

But this isn’t quite the case.

Although both provide animal health care, they don’t operate in the same capacity.

A vet is a medical professional who:

  • Treats diseases
  • Performs surgery
  • Oversees the overall health and well-being of animals

Meanwhile, a vet tech assists vets in diagnosing and treating animals.

To learn more about how distinct these two careers are, we listed the differences below.

a dog getting treated


A vet studies far longer than a vet tech does.

For them to become a doctor of veterinary medicine, they are required to study a:

  • Three to four years of pre-professional studies, and
  • Four years of professional program

On the other hand, a vet tech only needs a two-year associate’s degree.

After which, they can opt to take an exam to get certification and license to practice.

If they want to, they can pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree to become a certified veterinarian technologist.

This guarantees them more responsibilities and more income.

Occupational Responsibilities

A vet is often equipped with nearly all the medical skills regarding animal health care.

As such, they shoulder more responsibilities such as:

  • Carry out surgery
  • Do diagnosis
  • Recommend medication

On the other hand, a vet tech will be the vet’s assistant.

They may be required to carry out the least technical duties such as:

  • Do blood tests
  • Keep health records
  • Give medication

Average Pay

In veterinary care, the more responsibilities you have, the higher your income will be.

In this case, it’s not surprising that a vet earns more than a vet tech.

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020), these are the average annual salary of the two:

Lowest Median Highest
Veterinarian $60,690 $99,250 $164,490
Veterinary Technician $25,520 $36,260 $52,410

Moreover, it’s been known that some states pay more than others.

So here are the top five paying states for you to check out.

Veterinarian Veterinary Technician
State Annual Mean Wage State Annual Mean Wage
New Jersey $128,430 D.C. $66,850
Maryland $128,120 Connecticut $48,620
D.C. $127,310 Nevada $48,390
Rhode Island $126,630 California $47,580
Oregon $122,840 Massachusetts $46,480

Job Outlook

The best thing about both careers is that finding a job won’t be a hard task for you.

With the way people willingly spend money on animal care, the demand for vets and vet techs will continue to rise.

The table below shows the employment level sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020).

Employment 2020 Projected Employment 2030 Percentage of Change
Veterinarian 86,800 101,300 17% increase
Veterinary Technician 114,400 131,500 15% increase

The same with earnings, some states are known to employ more vets and vet techs than others.

So here are the top five states with the highest employment level for each career.

Veterinarian Veterinary Technician
State Employment State Employment
California 7,490 Texas 12,480
Texas 5,200 Florida 9,460
Florida 4,160 California 8,950
New York 3,530 Pennsylvania 4,670
Pennsylvania 3,480 New York 4,350

Note: The estimates don’t include self-employed workers.

Final Words

cat resting in her crate

A vet and a vet tech may be the same at first glance, but they’re different at their core.

Despite that, both generate good income and have employment demand.

So whichever career you choose, know that your future as a vet or vet tech looks bright.

Just remember to maintain professionalism and adhere to ethical conduct.

Most importantly, the love, respect, and care for animals.

Overall, these two highly depend on each other to provide quality animal health care services.

If you intend on becoming a vet, it’s best you start by being a vet tech.

As a vet tech, you’ll be able to gain mentorship from a seasoned professional who’ll equip you with all the right skills.

Remember, as important knowledge is, practical skills and experience are what matters most in the end.

Popular Programs

Find a Program

Earn your accredited, affordable associate degree or career diploma online with Penn Foster!

Veterinary AssistantVeterinary TechnicianDog ObediencePet GroomingSponsored Online Programs.