Vet Tech Vs Vet Assistant: Do You Know The Difference?

If you’ve always had passion for creatures great and small, there are a wide variety of options for animal-related careers available. For example, your love of animals could very easily translate into an exciting veterinary career working with pets of all shapes and sizes.

But there’s a lot of time and cost involved with becoming a veterinarian, as they’re required to complete a minimum of four years of school to earn their qualifications.

But before you go off to veterinary school to become a vet, there are other tiers of employment opportunities available within the field of veterinary services such as vet technicians and vet assistants. Either one of these roles would be excellent for animal lovers, as they involve caring for animals and helping them heal in places like private clinics, animal hospitals, or even zoos.

So if you’re interested in a rewarding career in veterinary medicine and science, read on below to find about the similarities and differences between these two exciting roles. By learning what each of these positions actually entail, you’ll be able to decide which of them would be best suited to you as a career.

The differences

There is often some confusion with vet assistant vs vet tech as they both involve performing similar tasks while working closely with animal doctors. While there is definitely some overlap between them, especially in smaller workplaces, both of these positions are actually significantly different.

Each has a distinct role with different education requirements, job responsibilities, and scopes of practice, but they ultimately work together as a team to help ensure all kinds of animals are happy, healthy, and strong.

A vet tech and vet assistant both provide veterinarians, animal researchers, and other animal professionals with technical support to help them when caring for the overall health and safety of pets and animals.

While vet techs and vet assistants help with the treatment of sick animals or assist with surgeries when they’ve been injured, they are always under the direct supervision of a veterinarian or another fully qualified professional.

One of the most obvious distinctions between them is that vet techs often supervise assistants who have more of a supportive role to everyone. Depending on the particular setting, vet technicians may be required to perform more clinical or technically complicated tasks, like having to administer anesthesia or take an x-ray.

Vet assistants on the other hand, might be more often tasked with grooming animals, cleaning up after surgeries, or more administrative responsibilities. That’s why vet techs are required to complete much more education than veterinary assistants.

Vet assistants roles and responsibilities

Depending on the size of the animal practice, the primary role of a veterinary assistant is to provide support to both veterinarians vs vet techs. They focus on completing basic daily tasks which are vital for the smooth operation of a veterinary care facility, such as ensuring the clinic is clean, safe, and organized. Generally speaking, this usually means they will be required to feed the animals, clean their cages, groom them, and administer any medications.

More experienced vet assistants may also be asked to perform many of the same clinical tasks as vet techs, such as sterilizing the surgical equipment and gathering samples from animals. In fact, other than administering anesthesia and assisting during some surgeries, veterinary assistants can do almost everything in a veterinary clinic that a technician can. While laws may be different with each state, there’s usually only a few specific tasks and procedures assistants can’t do because they’re not licensed.

While the role will most likely revolve around directly caring for animals, vet assistants may also be required to provide veterinarian with medical office administration support. That means they’ll be required to perform a wide variety of important administrative tasks such as accurate maintenance of patient records, medical billing and coding, medical charts, inventory supplies, and other clerical work. Vet assistant jobs will also include writing out treatment plans and medication instructions to help owners track pet health progress.

Working as a vet assistant is a mixture of interacting with pets, owners, and veterinary staff, which requires flexibility between animal care, answering phones, and helping staff. So as long as you’re an animal lover who can also work with humans, a career as a vet assistant would most likely be ideal for you. Not only will you spend less on your schooling, but you’ll also spend less time waiting to start working in the veterinary field with animals.



Veterinary assistants: education and licensing

While there are currently no education requirements to pursue a career as a veterinary assistant, most employers still prefer applicants who are at least 18 and have their high school diploma or equivalent.

Veterinary assistant positions are so popular for people interested in animal care, that the application process can be quite crowded at times. That’s why we highly recommended that you complete an online veterinary assistant course first, as it will give you a distinct advantage when applying for a position in this field.

Even though no formally mandated qualifications are technically required for assistant certification, you will certainly increase your chances of being hired by attending one of the veterinary assistant schools and completing any of their approved veterinary assistant programs before passing the national AVA exam.

There are plenty of top-quality vet assistant courses and certificate programs available online which will provide you with certification on completion. The content from courses supplied by these vet assistant schools will teach you everything you need to know about working in a vs veterinary surgery or animal hospital.

Veterinary technicians: roles and responsibilities

Short for veterinary technician, the role of a vet tech in the animal world is actually quite similar to a nurse for humans. They both perform a wide variety of supervised and unsupervised duties in order to assist with patient surgeries or provide support for their overall health.

A vet tech performs a variety of tasks which help veterinarians provide animals with the right treatment and the best care. In short, vet techs support veterinarians as their ‘right hand’ with animals.

Vet techs are not able to officially diagnose animal’s conditions, perform surgeries alone, or prescribe any medications, vet techs can still assist in performing a range of other crucial job duties at animal hospitals and vet clinics alike.

Most vet technicians are employed to work in private veterinary practices, but demand for them has been rapidly increasing over the last few years. There are now a variety of new employment opportunities available in a range of new animals health-related specialties.

While they are required to work under the direct supervision of a fully licensed veterinarian at most times, experienced vet techs might be given more of a supervisory role. They may be asked to watch over and instruct other veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants and laboratory animal volunteers to ensure they all provide the most effective care for the animals at their facility.

Working together with both animals and humans requires a considerable amount of patience, compassion, and overall flexibility. That’s because vet techs need to be confident, professional, and understanding when interacting with clients. Strong people skills are generally just as important as completing their formal education and training. Unfortunately this is one aspect of the job which can’t always be taught in a vet tech program.



Veterinary technicians: education

Anyone with an interest in working as a veterinary technologist should be over 18 years old and graduated high school with a diploma or equivalent. If they’ve received above average grades in subjects like math, science, biology, and animal behavior, they’ll then need to complete a 2-to-4-year veterinary technician training course with one the vet tech schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

After graduating from an accredited American Veterinary Medical Foundation program with an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in veterinary technology, students must then pass their VTNE exam. Veterinary technicians education will be high enough though their veterinary technician program in order to assist with a wide variety of procedures involving clinical and surgical technology when being clinical or laboratory animal caretakers. Additionally, some states may then require vet techs to apply for and obtain a state license.

Enroll in an online course veterinary assistant today

While the biggest distinction between both of these roles is the educational requirements, the decision to become a veterinary assistant and veterinary tech will ultimately come down to the job role that is best suited for you personally.

The good news is that no matter whether you choose to complete an online course to become a vet assistant or complete up to 4 years of study for a vet tech doctorate degree, both of these roles are perfect for anyone with an interest in caring for animals.

To kickstart your veterinary career, enroll in the Courses for Success ‘Becoming a Veterinary Assistant Online Certificate Course,’ today. This course will help gain all of the knowledge and skills that’ll prepare you to become a veterinary assistant

The CFS Team
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