Patient Care Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Working as a patient care technician requires little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and credentialing to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Individuals interested in helping promote good health without spending years in college may enjoy jobs as patient care technicians. Although specific requirements vary by state, training typically spans just a few months. Students who complete a certificate program in nursing assisting may have more job opportunities than those with no formal education. State laws vary, but completion of a competency exam is common in many areas.

Required Education Certificate in nursing assisting
Other Requirements On-the-job training will be provided with employment
Licensing, Registration and Certification Varies by state, but some credentialing is mandatory in many; certification is available through the National Center for Competency Testing
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 21% for nursing assistants*
Median Salary (2013) $24,890 for nursing assistants*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Patient Care Technicians

Patient care technicians tend to ill and injured individuals under the supervision of doctors, nurses and medical professionals. Their duties include taking vital signs, collecting specimens, performing catheterization and assisting patients with eating, personal hygiene and grooming. They also take notes and make assessments on their care. Patient care technicians often work in hospitals, clinics or rehabilitation facilities. They may use their training and experience to pursue more advanced health care careers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for nurse assistants were projected to grow 21% during the 2012-2022 decade, which is faster than the national average. These professionals earned median hourly wages of $11.97 or annual salaries of $24,890 as of May 2013, per the BLS.

Education Requirements

Training for aspiring patient care technicians is available at community and technical colleges. Students can typically complete certificate programs in less than a year. Interested candidates need a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The curriculum includes classroom, laboratory exercises and supervised clinical hours, which may come in the form of internships or externships. To successfully complete these programs, students must complete the following learning modules: certified nursing assistant (CNA), electrocardiogram (EKG), phlebotomy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced nursing skills.

Certification Exam

Once students complete the requirements of the patient care technician program, they're eligible to take the National Certified Patient Care Technician (NCPCT) exam through the National Center for Competency Testing. They can take it while completing their clinical education. To remain certified, individuals must complete 14 hours of continuing education each year.

Skills Needed

Patient care technicians are often members of medical teams that spend the most time with patients; it is important that they be empathetic, attentive to a patient's needs and responsive. Having strong interpersonal and communication skills and good attention to detail is also vital for a career as a patient care technician.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics