Q: What's the difference between a veterinary technician and an assistant? I'm thinking of becoming certified.
Q: What's the difference between a technician and an assistant? I'm thinking of becoming certified.
In order to become a veterinary technician, you must graduate from an AVMA accredited school and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination says Sandy Sponaugle, communications director for the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) in Washington, D.C. You also must fulfill the credentialing requirements in your state, such as passing a state licensing exam, she says.
A veterinary assistant, on the other hand, works in the industry but has not fulfilled the requirements to become a veterinary technician. "Most assistants are trained on the job by the veterinarian," Sponaugle says. "A veterinary technician has a wider array of duties—assisting with surgery, performing routine laboratory tests, and administering medication."
States vary in who they allow to be called a technician. For example, in California, you must be credentialed to be called a technician. Other states allow assistants to be called technicians. NAVTA is working to standardize these names to establish consistency across the veterinary profession.
"There needs to be a distinction because their duties vary by position," Sponaugle says. "Technicians are qualified to perform certain jobs that assistants aren't qualified or trained to do."
NAVTA offers an examination that will allow assistants to become an approved veterinary assistant. "The examination will be offered to graduates of these approved programs and special provisions have been made for veterinary assistants who have been working in the industry for more than five years," Sponaugle says. "By offering this approval to veterinary assistants, NAVTA is trying to help define all members of the veterinary healthcare team." To learn more about the assistant approval exam, visit NAVTA.net.