The Veterinary Assistant to Veterinary Technician Career Jump

Making a change in your career is a major decision that requires plenty of thought and planning. To land a new role, a certain degree or certification may be necessary. You might need to go back to school or undergo additional training to be fully qualified. The day-to-day of your next position may look a bit different from anything you have done previously. It should not be surprising, then, that there is lots to consider when making the jump from veterinary assistant to veterinary technician.

If you are a veterinary assistant aspiring to become a veterinary technician, we’ve come up with a few pointers to help you determine if it’s the right time to make your career jump!

The Difference between a Vet Assistant and a Vet Tech

Before you even consider a change in your career, you should familiarize yourself with the ways in which a veterinary technician’s responsibilities differ from those of a veterinary assistant. While both professions involve working alongside veterinarians to provide animals medical care, there is much that sets the two apart. It is important to keep in mind, though, that laws, definitions, and duties can vary state by state.

By definition, veterinary technicians hold more technical roles. Their work consists of intricate tasks such as dental work, giving anesthesia, taking x-rays, assisting in surgery, performing lab tests, and administering medications, vaccines, and treatments as prescribed by the veterinarian. Meanwhile, a veterinary assistant might be responsible for feeding, bathing, and exercising animals, maintaining the cleanliness of the veterinary office, stocking exam rooms with necessary medical supplies, scheduling appointments, maintaining records, and occasionally performing lab work.

The biggest difference between the two professions, however, is the level of education needed to become one. As a veterinary assistant, you may have earned a certification from completing a veterinary assistant program, or even began your career without any formal education. Veterinary technicians, on the other hand, typically need at least an associate’s degree to enter the field.

Benefits of Becoming a Veterinary Technician

You will have to go back to school to become a veterinary technician, but there are numerous reasons why the time and effort is worth it. When you decide to make the jump from vet assistant to vet tech, you are setting yourself up to:

  • Grow your education. If you’re passionate about animals and veterinary medicine, you can expand your knowledge of the two by going back to school. Plus, earning a degree or certification is a rewarding accomplishment that can open doors to new career opportunities.
  • Widen your skill set. The more advanced your skills are, the more responsibilities you will be able to take on. Your new abilities can help you contribute further to the veterinary field and well-being of animals.
  • Change up your day-to-day. A typical day on the job as a vet tech will look different than a vet assistant’s day-to-day. You might face more challenges or complex tasks that make your job more interesting!
  • Earn more. As of 2021, the average salary of a veterinary assistant is $31,780, while that of a veterinary technician is $38,250, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Is It Time to Take the Next Step in Your Veterinary Career?

Given the unique job functions and benefits of being a vet tech, is a career jump right for you? It might be time to make the transition from veterinary assistant to veterinary technician if you:

  • Have a passion for veterinary medicine and enjoy working in the industry
  • Are growing bored with your job or find it less engaging than before
  • Long for something new or different
  • Desire more advanced job duties
  • Seek work that challenges you to a greater extent
  • Want to learn more about the veterinary field
  • Aspire to earn a degree or other credentials

While going back to school can be a daunting task, that shouldn’t stop you from chasing after your dreams! Milwaukee Career College’s Veterinary Technician Program is designed to help current veterinary assistants take the next steps in their career. Accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), we offer hands-on training that prepares students to earn their associate’s degree as a veterinary technician. Our small class sizes ensure that each individual gets the personalized instruction they need to launch a successful career.


Ready to make the jump from veterinary assistant to veterinary technician? Fill out the form on this page or contact us to get started today!


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