Are you looking to break into the veterinary medical field? If so, you’ve probably heard of vet techs and vet assistants. While they both help care for animals in different ways, they’re often confused with one another by those who aren’t familiar with the industry. Whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience under your belt, this article will help clarify what exactly a vet tech is—and what makes it different from becoming a vet assistant instead.
What Is a Vet Tech?
Vet techs are trained to work closely with veterinarians, performing a wide range of duties that include both routine care and cleaning up after medical procedures. They must have a strong understanding of animal anatomy and physiology in order to perform their job effectively.
Vet techs are responsible for the health and well-being of animals, so it’s important for them to be knowledgeable about how different treatments work or what could go wrong during surgery. The ability to think quickly on their feet is also important because vet techs often find themselves dealing with emergencies like dog bites or cat scratches that require immediate attention.
What Is a Vet Assistant?
A vet assistant, also known as a veterinary technician or a veterinary technologist, is someone who assists the veterinarian in delivering health care to animals. A vet assistant may prepare animals for treatment, tranquilize them and clean their wounds. Vet assistants are trained animal care workers who have completed an associate’s degree program at a vocational school or community college (or equivalent). They are usually paid by the hour and can earn between $17 and $30 per hour depending on where they work.
Vet techs are not veterinarians — though they often assist vets with surgery — they do need extensive training before they can begin working in clinics or hospitals that treat pets. While some schools offer both associate’s degree programs and bachelor’s degrees in veterinary medicine, others only offer one or two options depending on your goals after graduation from college; be sure to research your options carefully before making a decision about which type of school is best suited for you!
Differences Between Vet Assistants and Vet Techs
The bottom line is that vet techs and vet assistants are both important members of the veterinary team.
In addition to having different educational requirements, being a vet assistant and being a vet tech also require different skill sets. Both vet assistants and vet techs have to have a certain amount of education and training before they can start working in their field. However, the amount of education required for each position can vary greatly. Vet assistants generally have only an associate’s degree in veterinary technology or a similar field of study. Vet techs, on the other hand, generally have at least an associate’s degree in animal science or some other related field of study.
Some common tasks for vet technicians include:
- Performing medical procedures such as administering medications, taking x-rays, and performing dental cleanings
- Assisting vets with surgeries
- Performing laboratory tests (bloodwork, urinalysis)
Just like there are many differences between teachers and professors, there are also many differences between vet assistants and vet techs.
Vet techs can help out with various office duties like filing paperwork or handling client accounts. Vet assistants do not perform any medical procedures but instead are responsible for things like cleaning cages, grooming animals at the clinic, answering phones/answering questions from clients/tracking appointments, etc.
Vet Assistant Salary And Job Duties
Vet assistants are responsible for assisting veterinarians with the day-to-day operations of a veterinary clinic. These duties include but are not limited to:
- Cleaning and disinfecting examination rooms and treatment areas
- Preparing food, water, and other necessities for animals in the clinic
- Taking temperature readings and recording results on charts or computer programs
- Getting medical supplies ready for use in examinations
- Recording information about the patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and treatment plans in a patient database system (electronic or paper)
A vet assistant’s salary depends on where they work. As of 2012, there were approximately 128,000 vet assistants working throughout the United States according to O*Net Online.* The average annual salary for a vet assistant was $28,880 per year or about $13 per hour.*
Although many entry-level positions require at least an associate’s degree in animal science, some employers prefer candidates who have completed an additional 2-year program in veterinary assisting or animal care.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant
You can become a vet assistant by getting an associate’s degree in veterinary technology from an accredited school and then working as an aide. You may also be able to enter the field after completing a community college program or vocational school training program, but these options aren’t as common.
The majority of vet assistants are women who are interested in helping animals, so if you enjoy spending time with animals and want to get paid for it, this could be the right career path for you! The best way to get a job as a vet assistant is to be prepared with the following:
– A high school diploma or GED
– Good computer skills
– The basic medical knowledge
Veterinary Technician Salary and Job Growth Prospects
The average salary for a veterinary technician is $36,000 per year, which is on par with the national average. However, some areas have higher salaries than others.
If you think your job prospects are limited as a vet assistant then you would be wrong! Vet assistants can actually advance their careers by becoming technicians. Many people begin as assistants and work their way up to the position of technician by taking additional classes or getting certified through an accredited organization. This can be done through online training programs where students can earn both bachelor’s degrees along with certifications.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know more about vet tech vs vet assistant, it’s time to decide which path is right for you. If you love interacting with animals and want to be close to them all day long, then becoming a vet tech is the best option. You can also consider becoming a veterinary assistant if this sounds like something that would interest you but doesn’t have enough training or experience yet.