Veterinarian vs. Vet Tech

A veterinarian is the animal doctor, the decision maker in patient care. The vet tech is the assistant and aide to the veterinarian and nurse to the animals; the link between veterinarian, animal, owner, and practice manager.

To become a veterinarian, one must attend school much longer: at least two (usually three or four) years of undergraduate study, then four years in a college of veterinary medicine. The veterinarian has to take national and state board exams and is required to attain a minimum number of continuing education credits per year. The vet tech sometimes is subject to similar requirements, but that is on a state by state basis.

The cost of education for a veterinarian can be as much as ten times higher than that for a vet tech. The national average salary is three times higher than the national average salary for a vet tech.

Both careers are rewarding professionally and have an ethical code of conduct that must be followed. Membership in professional organizations increases one’s skills and knowledge and keeps one current. The veterinarian’s career earnings potential is much higher than for a vet tech.

For a person interested in veterinary medicine, becoming a vet tech first might be one of the best paths to follow. Volunteering or working part-time for a veterinarian will not give the acute insight into the life, career, and satisfaction a veterinarian experiences that a vet tech can observe.

If a vet tech wishes to become a veterinarian, he/she has the life experience, the inside knowledge, and a good beginning to the education required. Some of the class credits or experience gained as a vet tech will fulfill the prerequisites for a veterinarian’s education. This is entirely dependent on each state’s requirements and the time between classes taken in the vet tech education and the veterinarian’s education.