Vet Tech vs. Vet Assistant: Understanding the Differences

OC Veterinary Assistant School - Veterinary Assistant Helping Veterinary Technician Examine Dogs Ear

The world of veterinary medicine is vast and offers a multitude of career paths for those

passionate about animal care. Two central roles that often get mixed up are that of a

Vet Tech vs. Vet Assistant. At a glance, these professions might seem similar, but they have distinct job

responsibilities, training requirements, and scopes of practice.

Educational Requirements and Credentialing

Veterinary Technicians: Typically, a vet tech must complete a two-year associate’s degree

in veterinary technology. Some may even pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field. In some 

states, there are Alternate Route options that allow professionals to become licensed with

specific educational requirements and practical experience. Once their education is

complete, they must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), overseen

by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This exam ensures the technician

has the necessary skills to perform their daily tasks in a veterinary clinic or animal hospital.

Additionally, some states may have their own credentialing process. The U.S. Bureau of Labor

Statistics (BLS) states that many states require vet techs to become certified, registered, or


Veterinary Assistants: The path to becoming a vet assistant is a bit different. Often, a high

school diploma or GED is the only formal education requirement, though some might

complete a veterinary assistant program. Organizations like the National Association of

Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offer an approved veterinary assistant

designation for those who complete a recognized training program and exam.

Job Responsibilities and Daily Tasks

Vet Techs: Vet techs are often likened to nurses in human healthcare. They assist

veterinarians in administering vaccines, taking x-rays, drawing blood samples, and running

medical tests. Vet Techs are also able to complete more technical tasks such as anesthetic

induction, cast/splint, and complete dental extractions under the supervision of a licensed


Vet Assistants: Vet assistants typically handle more clerical duties, such as keeping records,

scheduling appointments, and maintaining kennels. However, they also play a vital role in

animal care, helping restrain animals during procedures, taking vitals, and assisting with

basic procedures.

Career Path and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the demand for both vet techs and vet assistants is expected to rise,

given the growing number of pet owners in places like California and across the nation. This

outlook is promising for those considering a full-time or part-time role in the field.

Vet Techs: With continuing education, vet techs can specialize in areas such as dental

technology, and anesthesia, or even become veterinary technologists. NAVTA and AVMA support this growth through their various programs and resources.

Vet Assistants: Vet assistants can consider transitioning into a vet tech role by enrolling in a

veterinary technology program and undergoing the necessary job training.

In Conclusion

While both vet techs and vet assistants play essential roles in a veterinary clinic or animal

hospital, their paths differ in terms of educational requirements, job training, and

responsibilities. Whether assisting with x-rays, taking blood samples, or ensuring the well-

being of animals in kennels, each profession is integral to the world of veterinary medicine.

Those considering either career path should weigh the differences, especially in terms of

training and educational requirements. Yet, with the growing number of pet owners and the

continuous need for animal healthcare, both careers offer a promising future.

Note: Always check with local regulations and professional associations like the AVMA or

NAVTA for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the vet tech vs. vet assistant

roles and requirements.

Classes Beginning Soon


Veterinary Attendant Program

For those just beginning their future in veterinary medicine and have no, or little experience in a clinical setting.

Level 1 Veterinary Assistant

Intended for those who have either finished the Veterinary Attendant Program or have clinical experience.

Level 2 Veterinary Technician

Intended for advanced students who have completed the Level I Class requirements and can pass the Level II Assessment Exam.