Though both work at veterinary clinics and other facilities that care for animals, vet tech and vet assistant are two completely different careers. They are often confused for one another, but vet techs require at least a two-year college degree while vet assistants do not have to have any specific schooling at all besides a high school diploma or equivalent.
How Is a Vet Tech Different Than a Vet Assistant?
Vet assistants fulfill a lot of roles in a vet clinic or animal hospital. They may prepare exam and operating rooms, clean and disinfect equipment, exercise, feed, and water patients, handle reception and clerical duties, help restrain or calm frightened animals, keep an eye on post-op patients, and do minor tasks like dress wounds and administer certain medications.
Veterinary technicians have more medical responsibilities and can do more than vet assistants can. They function sort of like nurses, doing things like drawing blood, assisting in procedures, and taking x-rays. They are limited by law as to what they are allowed to do, however. They cannot make diagnoses or prescribe drugs, for instance, and they cannot legally perform surgery, although they can assist.
Their advanced training and education means that a vet tech can expect to make more money than a vet assistant, but how much more? Is the difference worth the time and money of earning a college degree?
How Much Does a Vet Tech Make?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask and where you live.
In May, 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the national average salary for a veterinary technician was $38,240. This figure lines up with Salary.com, which has the average vet tech salary at $38,885 as of September, 2023.
How Much Does a Vet Assistant Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a vet assistant in May, 2022 was $34, 740 or about $3,500 less than a veterinary technician salary.
Considering the time it takes to earn a vet tech degree and the college debt you could accrue in the process, the difference in potential salary might not be worth pursuing the degree.
A better option might be to start as a vet assistant and if you wish to continue your career path and earn your veterinary technician degree, you will already be enjoying working in the field as you do it!
Not All Compensation Is Measured by Dollar Signs
Looking at the salaries for vet techs and vet assistants, they don’t make bad money, but it’s clear that no one goes into those careers with an idea of becoming wealthy.
Fortunately, the measure of happiness does not lie in money alone.
The majority of people engaged in animal care careers report that they find pleasure in their work, and most say they find their jobs meaningful. Finding joy in a career that allows you to care for animals more than makes up for a modest payday.
Become a Certified Veterinary Assistant
Because so many people want animal jobs, veterinary assisting is a popular field. While you do not have to have any special training or degree besides a high school diploma to get a job as a vet assistant, lots of people apply for every opening.
One of the ways to help yourself get noticed by employers is to earn your vet assistant certification. Someone who is a certified veterinary assistant will not require a lot of on-the-job training and is generally a more attractive job candidate than someone with no training or experience.
You can earn your vet assistant certification online at Animal Behavior College. The program, which takes 12 months to complete, teaches you everything you need to know to work in a veterinary setting. Even better, ABC’s externship stage allows you to get plenty of real-world experience working in a local vet clinic or animal hospital.
ABC graduates enter the job market with the knowledge and experience to launch fulfilling veterinary careers.