Is Vet Tech the Same as Vet Assistant?

Many people are curious about the difference between a vet tech and a vet assistant. While both roles are important in the animal healthcare field, there are some key differences between the two. Keep reading to learn more about vet techs and vet assistants, and how they differ.

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Aspiring veterinary technicians (vet techs) often wonder if they need to complete a formal veterinary assistant (VA) program before they can begin working in the field. The answer to this question is no; in fact, many vet techs start out their careers as VAs before completing a vet tech program. However, there are some important differences between these two types of positions that you should be aware of before making your decision.

As a VA, you will be responsible for providing support to the veterinarian during appointments and procedures. This may include restraining animals, collecting samples, and performing basic administrative tasks. You will also be responsible for ensuring that the animal is comfortable and relaxed during their appointment. In contrast, a vet tech has a more hands-on role and will often assist the veterinarian during more complex procedures. This may include taking x-rays, administering medications, and performing lab work. In addition to these duties, vet techs are also responsible for educating clients on animal care and providing emotional support to owners who are dealing with sick or injured pets.

If you are interested in working in the veterinary field but are not sure if you want to commit to a formal education program, starting out as a VA may be the right choice for you. However, keep in mind that most VAs eventually move on to become vet techs, so you may want to consider completing a vet tech program down the road.

What is a Vet Tech?

A veterinary technician is a professional who provides direct patient care under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Veterinary technicians are technically skilled and have the ability to perform many of the same tasks as licensed veterinarians, including but not limited to performing diagnostic tests, administering medications and vaccinations, conducting lab work, and performing minor surgeries. They may also be responsible for animal dentistry, nutrition, pharmacy, and radiography (x-ray).

In contrast, a veterinary assistant is a non-licensed professional who provides support to licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Veterinary assistants generally do not have the technical skills or ability to perform the same tasks as licensed professionals, but they may be responsible for some routine procedures such as taking x-rays or providing basic animal care.

What is a Vet Assistant?

Vet assistants help veterinarians in animal hospitals and clinics. They typically have a high school diploma, and some may have completed a veterinary assistant program. Responsibilities include caring for animals, cleaning cages and kennels, preparing animals and equipment for surgeries, taking x-rays, and collecting lab samples.

Becoming a vet assistant usually requires no more than a high school diploma or its equivalent, although some schools offer certification programs designed to prepare students for this career. Most states do not regulate vet assistants, although some may require certification from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).

The Difference between a Vet Tech and Vet Assistant

Though the job duties of a veterinary technician and veterinary assistant may overlap, there are some key difference between the two positions. A veterinary technician is a highly skilled professional who has graduated from an accredited two-year program and passed a credentialing exam. Veterinary assistants generally have on-the-job training. Veterinary technicians often Times more responsibilities than veterinary assistants, such as performing diagnostic tests, taking X-rays, giving injections, putting in IV catheters, and administering anesthesia. They also have a better understanding of animal husbandry and can offer more medical advice to pet owners than veterinary assistants.


After researching the duties, responsibilities, and education requirements of both veterinary technicians and assistants, it is safe to say that these two jobs are not the same. Though both work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and carry out many of the same tasks, there are several key differences between the two professions.

Veterinary technicians typically have more responsibility and independence than assistants, as they are allowed to perform more medical procedures and give medications. They also usually have more direct contact with clients than assistants do. In addition, veterinary technicians must complete a rigorous educational program and pass a national exam in order to be certified, while veterinary assistants only need on-the-job training.

While both veterinary technicians and assistants play important roles in animal healthcare, they are not interchangeable. If you are interested in working with animals but are unsure which position is right for you, it is best to research both options in order to make an informed decision.

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