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What is the Difference Between a Veterinary Assistant and a Veterinary Technician?

September-22-2019
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Rewarding jobs for animal lovers aren't difficult to find. Whether you see yourself working in an animal shelter placing stray dogs and cats into their forever homes or grooming fluffy pups at a salon, there is no shortage of careers for animal lovers. For anyone interested in the health and wellness side of animal care, working in a veterinarian's office is a great option. Of course, these positions typically require training, certification and good scores on qualification exams like the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination).

Before you decide to venture down one career path over another, it's worth doing your research on the differences between veterinary assistants and veterinary technicians. The education, certification process, and daily duties of these professionals might look similar from the outside, but the details surrounding such positions can vary dramatically. Whether you're hoping to become a NAVTA approved veterinary assistant or simply explore the career options available, this article can help guide your next steps.

Duties of Veterinary Assistants and Veterinary Technicians

To begin, it helps to understand the differences in the daily duties performed in these roles. Both professionals assist veterinarians in the examination and treatment of animal patients. Veterinary technicians are generally more educated in the biology aspect of animal care than veterinary assistants, though, so techs often perform more advanced clinical procedures. Their training and passing score on the VTNE exam prepares them for whatever sick animal walks into the clinic. They help diagnose sick pets, take medical histories from owners, and treat animals for what ails them.

Veterinary assistants, on the other hand, tackle more administrative aspects of the clinic. Clerical tasks like record-keeping are the bread and butter of such a position. Veterinary assistants may also be required to keep tools clean and sanitize the examination rooms between appointments. Both roles require a love of animals, empathy for anxious pet parents, and a willingness to work with distressed animals.

Educational Requirements

The training requirements for these roles differ significantly. Veterinary technicians must complete a veterinary technology program at a certified college, university, or training program. Many times, vet techs pursue their associate's or bachelor's degree in their quest to become licensed. A passing score on the VTNE is required to begin practicing as a licensed veterinary technician. Anyone considering registering for this exam should take plenty of practice tests to prepare for the real thing.

Veterinary assistant training is often completed on the job. Generally speaking, only a high school education is required of these professionals. Some veterinary practices, however, require assistants to complete a NAVTA approved veterinary assistant training program. NAVTA, also known as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, is a professional organization dedicated to training those who work in assistant roles in veterinary practices.

Just like the VTNE for vet techs, there is a qualifying exam for vet assistants. The Approved Veterinary Assistant, or AVA test, helps ensure professionals are qualified for the work they'll do in the field. Anyone hoping to perform well on this exam should incorporate plenty of practice tests into their preparation.

Salary Differences

If salary is driving your decision to become a veterinary assistant or technician, you may want to invest in a vet tech educational program. While the cost of such a training program might be prohibitive for some, becoming a licensed veterinary technician pays off in spades. Generally speaking, vet techs earn more money than vet assistants because they are better educated.

Entry-level veterinary technicians earn about $27,000 per year. Entry-level NAVTA approved veterinary assistants earn about $23,000 annually. The more years of experience you have, the more you'll earn, with late-career vet techs earning an average of $36,000 annually, and late-career vet assistants earning an average of $32,000.

Launch Your Veterinary Assistant or Technician Career Now

With the right training, you can begin your career as a veterinary assistant or veterinary technician in a matter of months. If you decide to register for a training program or sign up for a qualifying exam like the VTNE, you'll want to take plenty of practice tests before the real exam. While your love of animals may be the reason for pursuing this career path, passion alone won't lead to success. Hard work, studying, and resources like practice tests can help you achieve your goal of becoming either a veterinary assistant or technician.

Thankfully, Exam Edge has all you need to help start your new career off on the right foot. Our practice tests have helped countless professionals earn their license to work in the veterinary field. We offer free sample exams for new Exam Edge members. This is the ideal way to preview our tools and see just how helpful our resources can be for your test prep. Sign up today to get started!

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