Veterinary assistant is the title used for anyone who works in a veterinary facility assisting a veterinarian (or technician) that doesn't meet the requirements and is not credentialed to work as a veterinary technician. Veterinary technician assistant specialist is quite likely simply an education facility trying to give their program a name to make it sound better when it is simply nothing more than a veterinary assistant program. It is most assuredly not the equivalent of a veterinary technology degree program as these are 72 credit hour programs at take a minimum of 18 months to complete, with the better ones being full 2 year (5 semester) programs.
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. The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a list of accredited degree programs on their website: http://www.avma.org/education/cvea/vette…
A Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) is a credentialed veterinary technician who has extensive experience and proved extensive knowledge and skill in a particular area of practice. They can be specialize in areas such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, behavior, nutrition and equine nursing.
Pay and benefits for all of these positions is going to vary based upon things like state you live in, geographic location within that state, type and size of veterinary practice worked in, personal experience/skill/professionalism, etc. Veterinary assistants typically make somewhere around minimum wage until they have alot of experience. Veterinary technicians will earn anywhere from $25,000 to $48,000 a year. Veterinary Technician Specialists are typically going to be in the higher end of the range for veterinary technicians, but it will vary again based upon each situation.