Veterinary technicians are required (in most states) to have a 2 year degree in veterinary technology from an AVMA accredited veterinary technology program, to have passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam and a state exam in order to be credentialed. They are also generally required to attend a set number of continuing education courses each year to keep up with changes in veterinary medicine. Veterinary technicians are educated in veterinary anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, animal husbandry, surgical assisting, anesthesia, medical nursing, diagnostics such as radiology and ultrasonography, clinical pathology, parasitology, medical terminology and record keeping, biological collection and sample handling and preperation, etc. They can also specialize in areas such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, behavior and equine nursing.
The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a list of accredited degree programs on their website: http://www.avma.org/education/cvea/vette...
In some states, the use of the title "veterinary technician" and the practice of veterinary technology is recognized as profession and licensure is required. In other states, veterinary technicians are registered or certified. The laws that govern veterinary technicians vary from state to state so for specific information on the laws a person should check their state veterinary practice act or contact their state veterinary licensing board.
A veterinary technician is (according to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the statutes in many states) a person who has a degree in veterinary technology from an AVMA accredited veterinary technology program and has met all of their state's requirements for credentialing as a veterinary technician. This usually entails having taken and passed both the Veterinary Technician National Exam and a state exam as well as getting a set amount of Continuing Education every year. In many states it is illegal to present yourself as a veterinary technician unless you have met these requirements and are licensed as a veterinary technician in that state. There are still some states that allow anyone regardless of education and training to be presented as a veterinary technician and many veterinarians use this term to mislead clients into feeling like they have well-educated and highly traine staff. It's like calling a person with no medical training that works at a human hospital a nurse. To determine the laws governing veterinary technicians a person should contact their state veterinary medical board or veterinary technician association.
A veterinary assistant is a person who assists in the medical care of animals but has not met the requirements for being a credentialed veterinary technician. Veterinary assistants may be "certified" however this type of credentialing holds no legal value and may be handed out by ANYONE regardless of their education, experience or training in veterinarymedicine so it's important to know what group has certified a veterinary assistant. There are many many veterinary assisting certification programs available online and on-site at high schools and colleges but many of them are taught be individuals with know training or experience in the courses that they are teaching. When choosing a veterinary assisting program, it is wise to choose one that is approved by a veterinary medical professional organization like a state veterinary medical association, that is offered through a college that offers an AVMA accredited veterinary technology program or which is taught by a trained veterinary professional such as a DVM or credentialed veterinary technician.