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What is the difference between vet assistant and vet tech?

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August 04, 2015 6:03PM

The difference between a veterinary technician and a veterinary assistant is education.

Veterinary technicians are required (in most states) to have a 2 year degree in veterinary technology from an AVMA accredited veterinary technology program, to have passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam and a state exam in order to be credentialed. They are also generally required to attend a set number of continuing education courses each year to keep up with changes in veterinary medicine. Veterinary technicians are educated in veterinary anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, animal husbandry, surgical assisting, anesthesia, medical nursing, diagnostics such as radiology and ultrasonography, clinical pathology, parasitology, medical terminology and record keeping, biological collection and sample handling and preperation, etc. They can also specialize in areas such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, behavior and equine nursing.

The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a list of accredited degree programs on their website:

No state in the US has any educational requirements for working as a veterinary assistant. This is an entry level-position in a veterinary facility and training is generally done on the job. Because most training is done on the job it is often very cursory and lacks the depth and breadth of a formal education. There are voluntary educational opportunities, however these are not equivalent to a college degree program and are instead basic vocational training. Basically a veterinary assistant is someone who works for a veterinarin but has not met the educational requirements to be a veterinary technician.