patient care tech in hallway

A patient care technician works under the supervision of a doctor or nurse and provides basic care to patients with various medical conditions.

Perhaps you have considered a career in the healthcare field, but you’re not interested in spending the next four (or more) years in school. One of the many benefits of becoming a patient care technician is you won’t have to spend several years in school before you can enter the workforce. In fact, many college programs allow future PCTs to get their education in as little as two semesters.

However, before deciding to pursue a degree in patient care, you’ll want to know what this role entails and if it’s aligned with your professional goals and interests.

What Does a Patient Care Technician Do?

As a patient care technician, you are responsible for caring for patients in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient facilities.

While responsibilities may vary based on your employer, PCTs are typically required to perform the following duties:

  • Taking and charting vitals
  • Taking electrocardiograms
  • Dispensing medications
  • Drawing blood and collecting blood and urine samples
  • Helping patients with daily tasks like eating, bathing or getting out of bed
  • Listening and documenting patient concerns

What Skills Must You Possess to Be a Patient Care Technician?

Successful patient care technicians are compassionate individuals who genuinely enjoy helping others. As a PCT, you must also possess excellent communication skills, as you will be expected to gather patient information and convey it to your medical superiors.

Most PCTs work long (typically 12-hour) shifts in a fast-paced environment, which means you need to have plenty of physical and mental stamina to perform this job successfully.

Salary and Job Outlook

Your exact salary will depend on where you work, who you work for and how much experience you have. Based on the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), patient care technicians earn on average $30,290 per year.

The need for certified patient care technicians is forecasted to grow eight percent between 2020 and 2030, with an average of 192,800 new positions opening each year over the next decade.

Where Do PCTs Work?

A variety of healthcare businesses heavily rely on patient care technicians to meet the needs of patients, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics. If you value establishing long-term relationships with patients, working in a nursing home may be the best fit for you. Conversely, if you enjoy a more dynamic environment and meeting new faces every day, you may do best working at a hospital or doctor’s office.

How to Become a Patient Care Technician?

To become a patient care technician, you’ll have to earn either a diploma or an associate degree. You will also need to take the Certified Nurse Assistant Examination upon the completion of your studies. Taking and passing the examination will ensure you’re competent in a variety of patient care skills and are licensed to work in the state of Missouri.

A patient care technician program usually includes courses in biology and medical terminology as well as lab courses so students can gain hands-on clinical experience in their future responsibilities.

To allow students to further enhance their skills and gain first-hand experience, many colleges and educational institutions require students to participate in an internship or externship.

Take the First Step Toward Your Healthcare Career with SLCHC

If you’re looking for a career that prioritizes compassionate care for others, becoming a patient care technician may be a good option for you. At St. Louis College of Health Careers, you’ll be able to obtain a Patient Care Technician Diploma and gain valuable experience before entering the healthcare workforce. Our accredited program is only two semesters long and can be completed in less than a year.

Are you interested in learning more about other jobs within the healthcare field? Be sure to browse our full list of programs or call 866-529-2070.

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