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Difference Between a Vet Tech & a Vet Nurse

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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.


Eric Pederson has been professionally writing stories, poetry and technology review articles since 2008. He won two national young authors awards and has been published in the online poetry magazine The Sketchbook. He received his Bachelor of Science in secondary English education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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