Is a Vet Assistant the Same as a Vet Tech?

So you want to work with animals, but you’re not quite sure what you want to do. You’ve probably heard of veterinarian assistants and veterinary technicians, but what’s the difference?

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Job Description

A Veterinary Assistant is a member of the veterinary health care team who supports the veterinarians and veterinary technicians in providing quality veterinary care. The Veterinary Assistant is responsible for animal care, laboratory work, client education, and office duties. A Veterinary Technician is a member of the veterinary health care team who works under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to provide quality veterinary care. The Veterinary Technician is responsible for animal care, laboratory work, client education, and office duties.

Duties of a Veterinary Assistant

As a veterinary assistant, you’ll be working closely with both animals and veterinarians to provide the best possible care for sick and injured animals. Your duties will be varied and will include everything from restraining animals during examinations and procedures to cleaning cages and kennels. You’ll also be responsible for feeding and watering the animals in your care, as well as administering medications prescribed by the veterinarian. In some cases, you may even be asked to assist with minor surgical procedures.

Duties of a Veterinary Technician

Veterinary technicians typically do the following:

-Restrain animals during exams and procedures
-Take and develop X-rays
-Maintain and sterilize equipment and work areas
-Collect animal blood, urine, and tissue samples for testing
-Administer vaccines, medications, serums, and treatments as prescribed by a veterinarian
-Perform dental cleanings on animals
-Advise animal owners on animal care, including diet and activity

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Education and Training

Vet assistants and vet techs are often confused as having the same job duties and responsibilities. Although they both work closely with veterinarians and have many of the same duties, there are some key differences between the two positions. Training and education are the two most notable differences. Let’s take a closer look.

Veterinary Assistant

A veterinary assistant is a person who supports the veterinarian in the daily tasks associated with running a clinic. A vet assistant may be responsible for cleaning cages, preparing animals for surgery, taking x-rays, and collecting lab samples. In some states, a veterinary assistant may also be allowed to give vaccinations and perform certain kinds of medical treatments under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Most veterinary assistants have at least a high school diploma, although some have completed postsecondary coursework in animal science or a related field. There is no formal education requirement to become a veterinary assistant, but most employers prefer to hire candidates who have some experience working with animals.

Veterinary Technician

A veterinary technician is a medical professional who works alongside veterinarians to provide animal care. Vet techs typically have an associate’s degree or certificate in veterinary technology. They may also be registered or licensed, depending on the state in which they practice.

Like other medical professionals, vet techs have a detailed knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology. They use this knowledge to assist veterinarians in diagnosing and treating animals. Vet techs may also perform laboratory tests, take X-rays, administer medications, and provide nursing care to animals. In some states, vet techs may also dispense medications.

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Certification

There is a lot of confusion out there about what a Veterinary Assistant is and what a Veterinary Technician is. A Veterinary Assistant is someone who has completed a brief training program, typically lasting a few months. A Veterinary Technician is someone who has completed an accredited two-year Veterinary Technology program.

Veterinary Assistant

A veterinary assistant helps vets in animal hospitals and clinics. They might do things like feeding and bathing animals, cleaning cages, and restraining pets during exams and treatments. They also might help with office work, like answering phones and making appointments. Most veterinary assistants have on-the-job training. Some communities offer short-term classes at community colleges or technical schools.

Veterinary Technician

Veterinary technicians (sometimes called vet techs) are the medical professionals who work most closely with veterinarians to care for sick and injured animals. Vet techs have specialized training in animal anatomy and physiology, as well as medical testing and terminology. In most states, veterinary technicians must be licensed by the state in which they practice.

The scope of practice for veterinary technicians varies from state to state, but generally includes tasks such as taking surgical measurements, administering injections, drawing blood, taking x-rays, providing patient care, and collecting samples for laboratory testing.

Salary

As of May 2019, the average annual salary for vet assistants was $33,610, or $16.19 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary was $32,350, meaning half of all vet assistants earned more than this amount and half earned less. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $45,660, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $24,560.

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Veterinary Assistant

A veterinary assistant helps the veterinarian with many of the tasks associated with animal care. Many times, the assistant is responsible for handling and restraining animals during examinations and procedures. The assistant may also be responsible for cleaning cages and kennels, preparing instruments, collecting samples, application of bandages and administering medication as prescribed by the veterinarian. Depending on state regulations, some veterinary assistants may be able to perform laboratory tests, take x-rays and give injections under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

The median salary for a veterinary assistant is $28,590 per year.

Veterinary Technician

The median annual wage for veterinary technicians was $33,400 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,840.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for veterinary technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
-Universities, colleges, and professional schools; state, local, and private $41,290
-Animal hospitals and clinics 37,880
-Management of companies and enterprises 34,560

Veterinary technicians usually work Full time. They may work evenings or weekends to accommodate pet owners who work during the day.

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