Veterinary Assistant Vs. Veterinary Technician

In a nutshell, veterinarians are health care professionals who diagnose and treat animals of all kinds. However, it is important to mention that in the veterinary field, there are two other kinds of health care providers: the veterinary assistant, and the veterinary technician (commonly referred to as a vet tech, or a veterinary technologist). The latter are professionals who run medical tests, while the veterinary assistants do basic tasks that range from feeding the pets to grooming and bathing them. They have different salaries, and different duties and responsibilities as well.

vet-teamworkThe veterinary technicians tend to have more responsibilities and to be better paid than the veterinary assistants, but they also need to get higher education degrees. That being said, while veterinary technicians often have to complete a college program that is accredited by the AVMA and get either an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in the field, the assistants only need a high school diploma or a GED to get a job in the field. That being said, here you will find a comprehensive, in-depth comparison between the job duties, responsibilities, education requirements, payscale and job outlook of veterinary technicians vs. veterinary assistants.

A Closer Look At The Job Duties And Requirements

1. The Job Duties Of A Veterinary Assistant

Generally speaking, vet assistants have considerably fewer job responsibilities, as opposed to a fully trained and credentialed veterinary technician. That being said, the vet assistant often heeds to clean the equipment and the patients, to groom the patients, to handle the patient restraint whenever needed and to perform basic office work.

These professionals are often the first ones you see when you enter a private or a government-regulated veterinary clinic, and they also deal with processing the patient paperwork and managing the files, cleaning the kennels, feeding the pets and such. They must also be aware of the correct sterilization techniques and be able to apply proper hygiene rules for all the areas where the patients are housed, and they must also understand the commonly used medical terms.

Other responsibilities of the veterinary assistant include responding to client questions, dealing with scheduling surgery appointments and billing and taking care of the animal patient from the moment it is admitted to the clinic, to the moment of its release.Veterinary assistants work closely with veterinary technicians.

2. The Job Duties Of A Veterinary Technician

The veterinary technicians, on the other hand, deal with more complex tasks that vary all the way from laboratory sample analysis to performing radiography on the animals or even administering anesthesia prior to the surgery, all of which require advanced clinical and academic training. From many points of view, the job duties and responsibilities of a veterinary technician are similar to those of a nurse.

These animal health care providers work under the close supervision of a licensed veterinarian, and some of his main duties involve recording the patient’s vital signs, administering all the medications prescribed by the veterinarian, performing advanced laboratory work, taking X-rays and performing advanced tests, preparing the surgery room and such. The veterinary technician’s duty is to also obtain the medical history of the animal, to collect the specimens required for laboratory tests and to perform the tests, as well as to offer pre-operative and post-operative patient preparation services. The technicians also clean the wound, change the bandages, they update the medical records and they also perform microbiological and parasitic laboratory tests along with blood tests and urianalysis.

Education Requirements

veterinary technicianWhen it comes to the difference between veterinary assistants and veterinary technicians, it must be said that not only do these animal health care providers have different duties and responsibilities, but different credential and educational requirements as well. That being said, the requirements for a veterinary assistants are minimal (only a high school diploma and a GED, as mentioned earlier), although some employers may require the assistant to have some background experience and basic knowledge in working with animals. These professionals do not need an Associate’s degree or any other type of higher education degree, as most of them have already gone through basic clinical and academic training through high school. They may, however, choose to enroll in online vet assistant training program.

Veterinary techs need an Associate’s Degree in the field, and in some states they must also pass the VTNE, or the Veterinary Technician National Examination, in order to be able to practice veterinary medicine legally. Veterinary technicians may also opt for a certification, upon completing the 24-month training program accredited by the AVMA.

Salary Comparison And Job Outlook

The difference in terms of education and credential requirements is reflected in the salary of these two types of professionals. Simply put, vet technicians tend to have a better job outlook than veterinary assistants, according to reports released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the demand is expected to increase by more than 50% until 2020. That being said, a veterinary tech earns an average yearly salary of little over $31,000 (the top 10% earning as much as $45,000), while the average salary for a vet assistant is of approximately $24,000 a year, with the top 10% of veterinary assistants making as much as $35,000.

Which Profession Is Best For You?

If you have decided to pursue a lucrative career in the field of veterinary medicine, then it is important to pay attention to the perks and downsides of being both a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician. If you want a well-paid and stable job in the industry, then becoming a veterinary technician is certainly the most inspired choice, given the great outlook for these professionals. In addition to the increasing demand for veterinary technicians at the moment, there is always the opportunity to advance and to climb higher on the career ladder!

Nonetheless, the most suitable profession depends on your future plans – for instance, it is not uncommon for those who aspire to become veterinarians to work as vet assistants in order to pay their way through veterinary medicine, and to gain some practical hands-on experience at the same time. That being said, working part-time as a vet assistant may be a good idea for making some extra money.