Vet vs Vet Tech: Differences Explained

If you’ve always been passionate about animals, it makes sense to pursue a career in the veterinary field. Before you sign up for a program, you’d want to make sure that your interest, skills, passion, and love for animals will be put to good use in your chosen field. Now the big question looms ahead of you— should you become a vet or a veterinary technician?

While veterinarians and vet techs work with all shapes, sizes, breeds and kinds of animals, they do have certain differences. Both are highly rewarding careers that anybody who has a love for animals can pursue.

They also work together towards ensuring that animals across all clinics in the country are extended the appropriate medical and health care and attention they require. Still, there are certain distinctions that separate the two. Understanding where they are similar and which points they differ is essential to help you make the right choice.

The Difference Between a Vet and Vet  Tech

man vet checking kitten


It is typical for people pursuing a career in veterinary technology to undergo a two-year program right after high school. This is essential in order to secure the certification and licensing necessary before they can start working in the field. If a vet tech wants to take on more responsibilities, as well as take home a much higher pay, he/she can choose to complete a four-year program to become a full-fledged veterinary technologist.

Vet techs are essentially the nurses of the veterinary world. Just like how nurses are expected to carry out a variety of responsibilities to ensure human health, vet techs do the same— this time to ensure animal medical health. They generally support the seminarian in the task of caring for and looking after animals.

Becoming a vet tech is the best option for those people that would want to become part of the veterinary field the soonest that they can. Since it is an Associate Degree, it only takes a couple of years to achieve so you spend less on the schooling while getting the opportunity to start a career in a highly rewarding job at a much faster rate.

vet doing procedure

A veterinarian, on the other hand, will need to complete several years in school in order to secure a degree. The education program involves a lot of sciences and math— subjects that a lot of people might find quite challenging. Also, most universities offer veterinary programs that are certified and these spots can be quite competitive so getting accepted can be a challenge sometimes.

Job Responsibilities

Generally, vet technicians work as assistants to a veterinarian. Now, according to veterinarian Dr. Brenda Eisenhauer, it’s common for a vet tech to spend the day taking blood samples and x-rays, test urine or blood, keep records of patients sorted, as well as administer medications. In many cases, they are also tasked to perform on-the-spot first aid, especially during emergencies.

vet tech puppy

Veterinarians can also perform all of the duties that vet techs do. However, they are also expected to perform various other tasks beyond the capabilities of a vet technician including diagnosing illnesses, performing surgery, recommending treatment, and prescribing medications and treatment. They are also responsible for putting beloved pets to sleep in the event of old age or a medical condition that is beyond treatment.

Pursuing a veterinary career gives you an opportunity to interact with and help a variety of animals on a regular basis. Some even choose to focus on certain veterinary specializations and this can have an impact on the types of animals you’ll be dealing with every day. Still, regardless of whether you wish to become a vet or a vet tech, what awaits you is one truly rewarding and fulfilling career.

Robert Woods
At POP, we strive to provide practical preventative advice. We strive to figure out ways to prevent problems that people might have trouble grasping. We've found that other sources have trouble articulating concepts in a way that regular people can understand.
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