What’s the Difference Between a Vet Tech and a Vet Assistant?

If you’re interested in working with animals but aren’t sure what role would be the best fit for you, you may be wondering what the difference is between a vet tech and a vet assistant. Both positions play an important role in providing care for animals, but there are some key differences between the two. Keep reading to learn more about the vet tech vs vet assistant debate.

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Job Duties

Vet assistants may do a variety of tasks, depending on the size and type of animal hospital or clinic they work in, as well as the state in which they are employed. Some of the general duties of a vet assistant include cleaning cages and kennels, restraining animals during medical procedures, collecting lab samples, and taking X-rays. vet techs on the other hand, have a more specific and technical job.

Vet Tech

Job duties for a vet tech are similar to those of a nurse in a human hospital. They include:
-Taking and recording the animal’s vital signs
-Collecting samples for testing
-Performing diagnostic tests
-Administering vaccinations and other treatments
-Assisting the veterinarian during surgeries
-Providing postoperative care
-Educating owners about how to care for their pets

Vet Assistant

Vet assistants perform a variety of tasks to support veterinarians, including restraining animals, collecting lab samples and maintaining medical records. Unlike vet techs who must complete formal training and become licensed, there are no education requirements to become a vet assistant. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates with at least a high school diploma and some prior experience working with animals.

Education and Training

Becoming a veterinary technician or assistant requires completing a training program and passing a credentialing exam. Veterinary technicians typically have more responsibility than veterinary assistants, but both roles are important in animal care. Let’s take a closer look at the education and training requirements for each position.

Vet Tech

Vet techs are highly trained professionals who provide medical care for animals. They work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and may perform duties such as taking X-rays, drawing blood, administering medications, and caring for sick or injured animals. To become a vet tech, you will need to complete a two-year accredited veterinary technology program and pass a national board exam.

Vet Assistant

Vet assistants typically have a high school diploma or GED. Some programs offer certification, but it’s not required to work as a vet assistant. Veterinary assistants work alongside veterinarians and vet techs to care for animals. They may perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones and scheduling appointments, or clinical tasks, such as taking X-rays and collecting lab samples.


The first difference between a vet tech and a vet assistant is certification. A vet tech is a certified professional who has completed an accredited veterinary technology program, while a vet assistant is not required to be certified.

Vet Tech

Vet techs are required to have more formal education than vet assistants. In order to become a vet tech, you must complete a two-year Associate’s degree at a minimum, although many people choose to pursue a four-year Bachelor’s degree. You will also need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) in order to become certified and licensed. As a vet tech, you will be responsible for many of the same tasks as a vet assistant, but you will also have additional responsibilities, such as performing lab work and radiography, administering anesthesia, and assisting in surgeries.

Vet Assistant

Vet assistants usually have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many have completed a formal training program, which typically lasts one to two years, although some vet assistants may receive on-the-job training. Some states regulate vet assistants, requiring them to complete a certain amount of continuing education every year and pass a state-recognized exam.


There’s a big difference in the average vet tech salary and the average vet assistant salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a vet tech was $32,350 in 2018. The median annual salary for a vet assistant was $24,900.

Vet Tech

Vet techs are responsible for many of the same tasks as vet assistants, but they also have additional duties. Vet techs typically have more direct contact with animals than vet assistants do. They may handle all aspects of animal care, from feeding and bathing to taking x-rays and performing lab tests.

Vet techs usually have at least an associate’s degree in veterinary technology, although some positions may require a bachelor’s degree. Many vet tech programs include internships or externships, which provide hands-on experience in animal care.

Vet Assistant

Vet assistants work alongside licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians to provide animal care. Their duties vary depending on the size and type of facility, but they typically include such things as cleaning cages and kennels, feeding and exercising animals, collecting samples for testing, and assisting during exams and surgeries. Some vet assistants also perform administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, answering phones, and updating medical records.

Veterinary assistants generally need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may prefer or require previous experience working with animals. Many vet assistants receive on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks to several months. Some states regulate veterinary assistants, requiring them to complete a brief period of supervised training and/or pass an exam before they can be certified or licensed.

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