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A Career in Veterinary Medicine: Comparing Veterinarians and Veterinary Technologists

There are many roles to fill in the world of veterinary medicine, and it takes more than just veterinarians to fill them. Veterinary technologists are crucial to the veterinary industry and essential for veterinary clinics. If you’re considering a career in veterinary medicine, you have the choice of which role you’d like to pursue. This article aims to highlight the differences between veterinarians and veterinary technologists and to help you decide which choice is the right career for you.

Educational Requirements for a Career in Veterinary Medicine

One of the most immediate differences between veterinarians and veterinary technologists is the educational requirements. Becoming a veterinarian requires at least six years of education resulting in a doctoral degree. There are currently five schools in Canada that offer this education. Veterinary technologists, however, only require two to three years of study for their diploma and official certification. There are currently twenty campuses in Canada that offer this education. Though, after the completion of their studies, both veterinarians and veterinary technologists are required to engage in continued education to retain their professional accreditation. This can be achieved through the attendance of conferences and seminars or through independent academic pursuit.

Employment Opportunities

In terms of employment opportunities, veterinarians and veterinary technologists are always needed wherever there are animals, though these positions do not necessarily always fall under the category of animal care. Both veterinarians and veterinary technologists have the ability to pursue careers as industry representatives, inspectors employed to ensure the welfare of animals and safety of humans, animal behaviour and training specialists, and a number of other fields in addition to traditional veterinary services.


Veterinarians are animals’ primary caregivers, whereas veterinary technologists take on a role akin to a veterinary nurse, assisting in procedures and operations while helping to maintain clinic standards. Unlike a nurse, however, veterinary technologists are also responsible for understanding and operating important veterinary medical equipment such as radiograph and ultrasound machines. It is also common for veterinary technologists to assist in managing clinics from an administrative position and to provide educational information sessions to both the public and members of the veterinary industry. There is significant overlap in the roles of veterinarians and veterinary technologists and they rely on each other to provide the full scope of modern veterinary services.

If you’re interested in a career in either of these positions, we strongly recommend reading more in the topic of Careers in Veterinary Medicine, and talking to your counselor or local veterinarian or veterinary technologist.

Hands-on Training Examples

UCVM student run clinics for pets of low income families

NAIT students participate in Canadian Animal Blood Bank