Last Updated on January 18, 2023
Vet Nurse and Vet Technician are two of the most common titles that you will see when visiting a Veterinarian business. Each title pertains to someone who has different responsibilities. Here I will break down each individual title and explain the differences between each role.
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You’ll also find many helpful information on vet nurse vs vet tech salary,how to become a vet nurse and vet nurse education on Collegelearners.
Difference Between a Vet Tech & a Vet Nurse
Many children who grow up with pets often dream of working in the veterinary field. Pursuing a career as a vet tech or a vet nurse is the popular alternative for those who do not wish to become a fully licensed veterinarian. A career as a vet tech or vet nurse provides an ever-changing work environment and the opportunity to work closely with animals in a team-based work atmosphere.
Controversy Over the Correct Title
The term vet tech and vet nurse are entirely interchangeable. According to the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT), a debate about whether or not the title of technician is more appropriate than nurse extends across the United States. Such organizations as CACVT, the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the North American Veterinary Technician Association favor the term technician over nurse. It is entirely up to each state as to which title they choose to use.
Veterinary Tech (Nurse)
The term vet tech can refer to either a vet technologist or vet technician. There is very little difference between the two jobs as they both perform many of the same duties. However, most technicians work within a privately owned clinic, while technologists have the option to work in more research-based facilities.
Duties of a Vet Tech/Nurse in a Clinic
Vet techs must work under the direct supervision of a fully licensed veterinarian within a clinic or animal hospital. Many of the duties of a traditional nursing career are also performed within the vet tech profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those working in a clinic or animal hospital perform such duties as drawing blood, urine analysis, taking x-rays and recording medical data. More experienced vet techs are trained to talk to patients and deliver information about the health of their pets. Vet techs generally work with small animals, such as cats, dogs, birds and mice, but they may also work on larger animals, such as sheep, pigs and monkeys.
Duties of a Vet Tech/Nurse in a Research Facility
Vet techs/nurses qualified to work in a research facility must also work under the supervision of a fully licensed veterinarian. This position offers a bit more responsibility and may include administering medication, preparing for lab exams, recording and analyzing animal genealogy, preparing for operations by sterilizing equipment and even euthanizing severely ill animals.
Education,Training and Advancement
The vet tech/nurse field is very science focused. Therefore, anyone wishing to pursue a a career in this field should register for as many science and biology courses as possibly early on in school. A majority of American Veterinary Medical Association accredited schools offer a two-year vet tech/nurse degree, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only about 20 colleges offer four-year programs. Vet techs/nurses with enough experience in the field have plenty of chances for advancement. Such promotions may include more responsibilities and duties or even becoming a supervisor.
vet nurse vs vet tech salary
A vet nurse earns an average salary of $22,475 per year. Vet technicians often earn more because they work in privately owned clinics. In comparison, the national average salary for vet technicians is $29,937 per year.
Employers may offer similar benefits to employees in either profession, including professional development assistance to help them continue their education. Vet nurses and techs may also receive pet insurance and health insurance.
Years of Experience
Since vet techs need more education than vet assistants to get started in the field, vet techs tend to start out with slightly higher salaries and earn more with experience than vet assistants. This projection from April 2018 shows average salaries to give you a picture of how much vet techs make versus vet assistants based on experience:
- Entry-level: $27,000 for vet techs and $23,000 for vet assistants
- Mid-career: $31,000 for vet techs and $26,000 for vet assistants
- Experienced: $34,000 for vet techs and $29,000 for vet assistants
- Late-career: $36,000 for vet techs and $32,000 for vet assistants
Job Growth Trend
From 2016 through 2026, both vet techs and vet assistants are expected to have similar job growth rates of 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively. This fast job growth is due to increases in pet ownership and pet expenses, and it’s expected to add 20,400 vet tech and 16,300 vet assistant and laboratory animal caretaker jobs over the decade. You can expect good job prospects entering either of these veterinary careers; turnover helps lead to more vet assistant jobs, while vet techs can find jobs more easily due to the higher education required.
How to become a veterinary nurse
Here are some steps you can take to become a veterinary nurse:
1. Graduate from high school
In order to attend veterinary school, complete your high school education or earn a GED. While in school, focus on science and math since those subjects can be important in the veterinary field for various tasks such as weighing animals and measuring medicine dosages.
2. Gain experience with animals
Because work experience is usually a requirement for finding a job as a veterinary nurse, it is helpful to gain experience with animals early on. This can help you learn if being a veterinary nurse is a job you would be interested in and want to pursue an education for. Besides volunteering at a veterinarian clinic, consider other animal environments such as your local animal shelter or kennel.
3. Attend a nursing program
You can earn a veterinary nursing degree through a college accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Veterinary nurses can earn either a two-year degree to become a veterinary technician, or a four-year degree to become a veterinary technologist. Classes cover related topics, such as:
- Medical terminology
- Small animal nursing
- Preventive health care
3. Get licensed
Most veterinary nurse positions require being licensed. Research the requirements for your state so you can prepare to get your license to practice as a nurse.
4. Earn a certification
Depending on where you are located, you may also want to earn a related certification in animal studies, veterinary nursing or another related field. Earning a certificate can help you specialize your knowledge in the industry and become more marketable for jobs. You can earn a certificate online, and it typically takes less than a year to complete.