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5 Steps to Become a Patient Care Technician

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If you're considering a career as a Patient Care Technician, this guide will explain what the job entails, the steps to become one, and the promising career outlook in this growing field. With the healthcare industry continually evolving, the demand for compassionate and skilled PCTs is on the rise.

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What does a Patient Care Technician do?

Patient Care Technicians provide critical help to doctors and nurses and give patients the direct care they need. They may help patients with daily activities like eating, bathing, and dressing. They also track vital signs, draw blood, administer some medications, and maintain patient records. They serve as the nurturing link between patients and the healthcare system.

If you are wondering which path you want to take, here are some of the types of PCTs and their primary roles:

Telemetry Technician

  • Works in intensive care or telemetry units.
  • Performs  Electrocardiograms (EKGs) and monitors the heart's waveforms.
  • They are the first person to notify nurses and doctors of any changes in the heartbeat.

Dialysis Technician

  • Works with patients undergoing dialysis treatment for kidney disease or failure.
  • Prepares dialysis equipment, monitors patients during treatment, and records patient data.
  • Assists with patient comfort and safety during dialysis procedures.

Emergency room Technician

  • Assists doctors and nurses in emergency room settings.
  • Performs initial patient assessments, takes vital signs, and provides wound care.
  • Assists with patient mobility and transports patients within the hospital.

Rehabilitation or Behavioral Technician

  • Works with patients who either have substance abuse problems or struggle with serious mental health disabilities. 
  • Assists with daily patient needs.
  • Helps in carrying out treatment plans.

5 easy steps to become a PCT

Becoming a PCT involves several steps, starting with the proper education. Some states require a CNA certification to get enrolled in the program. Please note that each state has specific requirements for individuals aspiring to become a PCT. Here are some of the steps that you need to take:

1. Get a high school diploma or equivalent: Most PCT programs require a high school diploma or equivalent such as a GED, as a prerequisite.

2. Enroll in a PCT training program: Next, you must complete a PCT training program which ranges from 8 to 16 weeks. These programs typically cover anatomy, physiology, phlebotomy, EKG, medical terminology, and patient care skills.

3. Complete the clinical hours or internships: Many PCT programs also require certain clinical hours or internships. On average, PCT programs may require around 150 to 600 hours of clinical or internship experience. This provides hands-on experience in a healthcare setting.

4. Get certified: After completing the training program, you'll need to pass a certification exam. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers a PCT certification exam.

5. Apply for jobs: Once you receive your certification, it's time to begin your job search. PCTs can work in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and home healthcare agencies. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job application, highlighting your relevant skills and experience.

Where can I find PCT classes?

You can easily find PCT classes through Dreambound by entering your zip code. Sounds convenient, right? But wait... there's more! You can also select your preferred class environment (Online, Hybrid, or In-person) and look into available payment options that would cater to your financial needs. Check on online PCT classes!

Do you want only to attend night classes during the weekends? We got you! You can customize your preferences by selecting the days of the week and times that you are available. With these features, you can select a class that meets your lifestyle.

Is being a PCT worth it?

Being a PCT comes with several benefits. The average annual salary for orderlies (which includes PCTs) was $38,130 in May 2023, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It can even go up to almost $47,000.

You can find more details in one of our blogs about a Patient Care Technician's Salary.

Besides compensation, there are other reasons why you should pursue this career, such as:

  • Making a difference: As a PCT, you're in a position to make a tangible difference in people's lives, helping them when they're most vulnerable. This ability to influence patients' well-being is a rewarding aspect of the job.
  • Career stability: The healthcare industry has been resilient even in times of economic uncertainty. The growing aging population and increasing demand for healthcare services ensure job security. 
  • Pathway to further opportunities: Starting as a PCT can open the door to many career advancement opportunities. Experiences you gain in direct patient care can provide an excellent foundation in fields such as nursing or medicine.

Similar paths from Patient Care Technician

While working as a Patient Care Technician offers valuable experience and a chance to directly help patients, you might be interested in exploring other healthcare roles that utilize your skills and interests. Here are three exciting career paths that build upon your PCT foundation:

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Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Similarities: Both provide direct patient care like assisting with daily living tasks (bathing, dressing), collecting vital signs, and reporting patient conditions.
  • Differences: CNAs often work in long-term care facilities, may have more direct patient care duties, and might require additional certification (depending on the state).

You can explore our guide on becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and delve deeper into this career.

Phlebotomy Technician

  • Similarities: Both perform phlebotomy (drawing blood samples). PCTs might do this alongside other duties, while Phlebotomists specialize solely in blood draws.
  • Differences: Phlebotomists typically work in labs or clinics, require specific phlebotomy certification, and focus solely on blood collection with a higher volume of patients.

If you are considering a career in phlebotomy, check out our guide to becoming a phlebotomy technician to get started on this path.

Final thoughts

Becoming a patient care technician is a rewarding journey that leads to a fulfilling career. Whether you’re drawn to the role by the desire to help others, the potential for personal growth, or the opportunity for career advancement, the path to becoming a PCT is well-defined and accessible. If you're interested in taking this journey, be sure to check out the Patient Care Technician classes near you and embark on your PCT journey today.

If you're considering pursuing this certification in a different location, we have other in-depth guides to help. Check out our guides for different cities below:

Looking for online education that's on your terms? See these guides:

Jessa Guzon
Written by
Jessa Guzon

Jessa Guzon is a member of the School Growth and Customer Success Team in Dreambound. She finds joy in assisting both schools and students in reaching their goals by answering their queries and connecting them with the right people. Outside her professional role, Jessa is a happy-go-lucky person with a thirst for adventure.

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