People who aspire to become a part of the veterinary medical community may initially become confused as to whether they want to be a veterinary assistant or a veterinary technician. However, it is easy to tell which is which once you have become familiar with their responsibilities. One of the main distinctions between an assistant and a technician is their training. Veterinary technicians are required to take courses and clinical training, as well as certification by passing an examination. On the other hand, veterinary assistants get most of their training on-the-job.
Recently, there has been surge of online or on-campus programs that should be able to prepare people to work in a veterinary hospital. However, veterinary assistants are better off getting started working as a volunteer in an animal shelter or any similar establishment, and then to be eventually hired as a veterinary assistant in training. Many people on the job have claimed that veterinary assistant programs are not recognized by their prospective employees and are deemed useless; however, there are still many aspects and knowledge of the veterinary environment that veterinary assistant programs may be able offer.
Aspiring veterinary technicians on the other hand, need to find an appropriate program for them, whether it is an on-campus program or an online degree program. Many people who are planning on taking such programs are quite wary whether they should invest their time and money for such a future job. A career as a veterinary technician may be suitable for people who no longer wish to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, but would still very much like to study the medical aspects of working with animals. An aspiring veterinary technician must also take a licensure exam after doing course work and clinical training.
A big difference between the two jobs is the type of work that each does. Veterinary assistants often perform non-medical procedures and tasks that are needed to keep a veterinary hospital working. Veterinary assistants play an important role in maintaining a veterinary hospital. Their tasks include feeding, washing animals in confinement, taking sick dogs for a walk outside, as well as keeping the animal’s confinement area clean and secure.
Veterinary technicians on the other hand, act like a nurse or technician to support the veterinarians’ work. They are the ones to collect samples from patients, and are also the ones to handle these samples in the laboratory. A big part of the technician’s job is to do laboratory work, which influences the diagnosis of the disease by the veterinarian. Both jobs may require heavy lifting and cleaning up.
In general, veterinary technicians earn higher salaries than veterinary assistants. Many veterinary practices have been shown to pay veterinary assistants a meager $7-8 per hour, which veterinary technicians would receive an average of minimally double that salary. These are according to personal accounts from actual employees; however other sources claim that an average veterinary assistant gets paid for a minimum of $15 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a veterinary assistant will receive an average annual salary of $23,400.
People who are aspiring to become veterinary assistants or technicians must also be aware that working in animal facilities or veterinary hospitals requires handling animals which are always unpredictable. This means that there is a high risk of injury compared to other jobs. Our beloved pets are still animals and people who handle them are always at risk of getting scratched, bitten and acquiring serious diseases. Although with good knowledge and sense of animal behavior and correct handling, many people still find it comfortable and satisfying to work with animals.