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Vet Technician vs. Vet Assistant: What’s the Difference?

There’s often confusion about veterinary assistants and veterinary technicians as the same job.

While employees in these two positions work together, their role duties do vary. Both roles are very different but ultimately lead to keeping animals healthy and strong.

In either role, you become a trusted member of a veterinarian’s staff.

Below, we share the difference between a vet assistant and technician to help you choose which path is best for your career goals.

Education and Tasks Vary in Each Role

It’s easy to mix up the difference between a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician as both perform similar yet specialized tasks. The biggest difference between a veterinary technician and a veterinary assistant in education.

In turn, that means different education requirements for each role:


Generally, a veterinary assistant can start working in an animal hospital or clinic right out of high school. Vet assistants learn on the job, but can also earn an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation to bring even more experience to the table.

Veterinary technicians have to complete a post-secondary program like a 2-year associate’s degree. Depending on the state, a vet tech might also need to pass an exam to become certified, registered, or licensed.

Job Duties

As every veterinary practice needs and state laws vary, this isn’t a full listing of duties that may be performed or required.

Veterinary assistant

Veterinary technician


Veterinary assistant

According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, the highest-paid vet assistants earned more than $38,000 yearly in 2017.

Veterinary technician

The highest 10% of veterinary technicians earned more than $49,000 as reported in 2017.

Job Outlook

The job outlook and opportunity for both career options are excellent. Both fields have a 19-20% growth from now until 2026.

Career Opportunities

Most of the time you’ll find work with a veterinary services employer like a vet’s office.

Other settings may include research facilities, boarding facilities, animal welfare groups, animal control offices, or universities.

As you gain more experience in the industry, you may be tasked with more responsibilities. Additionally, there’s always room for more training on the job and certifications or designations through a variety of veterinary programs.

Take Your Next Step Into the Veterinary Field

Whichever career path you decide to take, you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to care for animals daily. While the biggest difference between a vet tech and a vet assistant is education, both roles are focused on optimum animal care.

Vet assisting is the stepping stone into the animal welfare world. If you want to spend your career helping animals, becoming a veterinary assistant is a perfect starting point.

No matter which path you pick, know that your role is an important one within any veterinary practice. Without these specialized roles in the veterinary healthcare team, it would be an even bigger challenge for veterinarians to keep animals safe and healthy.

Why do you want to become a veterinary assistant or vet tech? Let us know on social media!

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