Vet Tech Vs. Vet Assistant

Vet Tech vs. Vet Assistant

Are vet assistants and vet techs all that different? While they perform much of the same tasks, there are a few key differences in how they receive their education, what they can do, and how much they can make. Some rules may vary depending on the state you reside, but for the most part, they are similar.


Let’s break down the differences between the two professions to help you make an informed decision about your future career and understand the steps required to get started.

Vet Assistants vs. Vet Techs

What does a vet assistant do?

The day-to-day responsibilities of a vet assistant vary based on their experience and their employer. In a hospital or clinic setting, a vet assistant can typically expect to…

  • Provide for the husbandry needs for animals in the clinic or hospital’s care
  • Assist veterinarians in exams, surgeries, and other procedures
  • Take patients’ vitals, administer medication, and care for hospitalized animals
  • Communicate with pet owners about their animals’ needs and health concerns

Because vet assistants are usually seen as “do anything” members of the veterinary team, they are sometimes asked to perform other duties. They might manage the front desk, make phone calls to clients, or clean and prepare rooms for patients.


What does a vet tech do?

Vet techs can do everything a vet assistant can with only a few differences. In addition to the duties listed above, vet techs can also administer anesthesia. Other than that, they perform most of the same day-to-day tasks. There may be some variations depending on the state in which they practice.

Vet Assistant vs. Vet Tech Education & Licensing

What kind of education does a vet assistant need?

Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent can start the process of becoming a vet assistant. To do so, you’d need to pursue one of three avenues for learning: hands-on school, online school, or apprenticeship. Of these options, hands-on schooling will require the largest investment but give you the most comprehensive education.

The greatest benefits to pursuing a vet assisting career are the time and financial investments. Even the most extensive vet assistant programs take no more than nine months, and they can cost thousands of dollars less than vet tech programs.


What kind of education does a vet tech need?

The education requirements for vet techs are much more rigorous. Unlike vet assistants, vet techs need to complete a veterinary technology program at a college or university. Usually, these students go on to complete their two- or four-year degrees before taking the required national and state examinations to get licensed in their state.


Do vet assistants and vet techs need to be licensed?

While there are currently no licensing requirements for vet assistants, vet techs do need to take and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination and state examination to get licensed in their state. Once completed, they will receive the title of Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). In some states the term “registered” may be replaced with “licensed” or “certified”.

Vet Assistant vs. Vet Tech Jobs & Salaries

Is it easier to find a job as a vet assistant or a vet tech?

Most vet assistants and vet techs are hired into animal hospitals and clinics. Right now, there’s a heavy demand for both positions. Because turnover is a bit higher with vet assistants, there are usually open positions in most cities.


How much do vet techs make?

Salaries for vet techs and assistants vary by state and experience level. On average, vet techs in the US make around $34,000 per year. Some make as much as $50,000 depending on their location and the type of environment they work in.


How much do vet assistants make?

Because vet assistants do much of the same work as vet techs, their salaries are comparable. In the US, vet assistants make just $1 less per hour on average than vet techs. The average salary for vet assistants in the US is $31,567 per year, but some can make as much as $42,000 per year.

When you factor in the cost of school, though, vet assistants can actually end up making more in the long run.

Should you become a vet assistant or a vet tech?

In the end, the choice is up to you! If you’re comfortable attending and investing in a four-year university, consider becoming a vet tech. But if you want to get started with your career more quickly and avoid a major investment, attending a vet assistant school may be the way to go.

Want to become a veterinary assistant? Take the first step today!

Our hands-on program is designed to provide you with the classroom and practical education you need to jumpstart your vet assisting career. Complete the form below for more information or to book a tour of our Missouri facility.

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Joseph Schifano is the President of The Academy of Pet Careers and the Founder of DogNerdly.

With over 20 years of professional pet experience, Joseph began his journey as the owner/operator of a successful seven-figure pet care business. He later acquired The Academy of Pet Careers, aiming to elevate the quality of care provided by industry professionals. This position enabled him to connect with leading experts in the field and deepen his knowledge in all aspects of pet care.