How to Become a Patient Care Technician in 3 Steps + Licensing Requirements

Patient care technicians often work closely with nurses.

They focus on a patient’s physical and emotional health and comfort.

If you are an empathetic person with an interest in the medical field, you should consider becoming a patient care technician.

Generally, you’ll need to complete a training program and pass a certification exam to become a patient care technician.

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Steps to Become a Patient Care Technician

Becoming a patient care technician involves completing a patient care technician training program and getting a certification.

Most, but not all states, require patient care technicians to be certified.

Even if it’s not required by your state, most employers will require you to have a certification before hiring you.

1. Meet the Prerequisites

The first step is to meet a few prerequisites.

You’ll need to have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years old.

Many schools and employers also require you to be up to date on all your vaccinations.

They may also require you to have negative tests for Hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

A background check and drug test may also be required.

2. Complete a Patient Care Technician Training Program

The next step to becoming a patient care technician is to complete an approved training program.

Programs can take as little as 8 to 10 weeks to complete.

Other programs may be 6 months to 1 year in length.

Most patient care technician programs will prepare you for a career as a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, phlebotomist, and an EKG technician, as well as a patient care technician.

3. Get Certification

Which certifications you will need can vary based on the state where you plan to work.

Generally, you’ll need to become a certified patient care technician.

You may choose or be required to get other certifications as well.

These include:

  • CNA – Certified Nurse Assistant
  • CET – Certified Electrocardiogram Technician
  • CPT – Certified Phlebotomy Technician

Licensing Requirements to Become a Patient Care Technician

The license requirements will vary based on your state and the standards your employer has.

Generally, you’ll need a patient care technician certification.

You may also need other types of certification.

National Healthcareer Association

The most common patient care technician certification is the CPCT (certified patient care technician) offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). 

The NHA exam features questions on patient care, infection control, EKG, and phlebotomy.

You’ll need to complete an approved training program, including an externship.

Then, you’ll need to pass the CPCT exam (see our practice test).

You can choose to get certified as an EKG technician and a phlebotomist through NHA.

You’ll need to meet the experience requirements and take the exams for each certification.

National Performance Specialists

You can also get certified through National Performance Specialists or NPS.

This is known as the CPCT or Certified Patient Care Technician.

Once you sign up, you’ll have access to all the study materials you need.

When you are ready, take the exam to get your CPCT certification.

You can also choose to get your EKG and phlebotomy certification through NPS.

Each exam costs $200.

However, after you purchase one certification exam, you can purchase others at a 15% discount.

American Medical Technologists

American Medical Technologists, or AMT, also offers a patient care technician certification (PCT).

To get your certification, you’ll need to complete an approved training program.

If it’s been 4 or more years since you graduated from a program, you’ll also need to show that you have work experience as a patient care technician.

If you don’t have any formal education, you’ll need several years of work experience as a patient care technician.

Patient Care Technician Online Training Programs

U.S. Career Institute

U.S. Career Institute offers an Online Patient Care Technician Certification Program that can be completed in as little as 4 months.

You’ll have up to 12 months to complete the course.

It’s completely online, and you can do the coursework on a laptop or your phone.

The program teaches students to perform EKGs, give injections, and draw blood.

You’ll learn first aid, including CPR, how to update medical records, legal and ethical principles, and infection control.

You will learn about feeding tubes, and the signs that a patient may need one.

You’ll learn how to move patients and support their range of motion, and how to obtain and record vital signs as well.

Once you’ve completed the program, you are eligible to take the CPCT/A certification through NHA.

Advanced E-Clinical Training

Advanced E-Clinical Training offers an Online Patient Care Technician Program.

The innovative program can be completed in a few months.

However, it is self-paced, and you’ll have access to all learning materials for 12 months.

The curriculum includes clinical simulations.

If you want to practice phlebotomy, you can purchase a venipuncture practice kit.

The kit includes a dummy arm and the medical equipment you’ll need to practice blood draws and injections.

An externship isn’t required as part of the course, but it is voluntarily available.

Advanced E-Clinical Training partners with healthcare providers across the country to provide externship opportunities.

Once you’ve completed the program, you can take the CPCT certification exam through the NHA.

Ready to Work

Ready to Work offers a patient care technician program that can be completed in just 1 to 2 months.

Instead of paying for your education, this program is completely free.

Ready to Work partners with employers who need patient care technicians.

You’ll complete the coursework online, and then you’ll complete 1 to 2 days of lab exercises at a local healthcare facility.

Job placement assistance is also offered.

Many students have an employment opportunity before they have finished the program.

Once you’ve completed the program, you can take the certification exam through the NHA to get your CPCT certification.

You can also choose the National Workforce Center, or NWCA, Patient Care Technician Certification, or PCT.

Phlebotomy Career Training

Phlebotomy Career Training also offers a patient care technician program.

The program can be completed in 1 month, but you will have 6 months to complete it after beginning the course.

Students are required to have at least 6 months of healthcare experience before registering for the program.

You may be a CNA, home health aide, or other medical professional.

You’ll need a letter from your employer or a notarized resume to show proof of your experience.

Once you’ve completed the program, you are eligible to take a certification exam through the NHA or AMCA.

You will need to complete internships in phlebotomy, EKG, and patient care as part of the program.

You will need to find these internships on your own.

You’ll learn how to take vital signs, HIPPA and OSHA regulations, infection control, and how to do drug and pregnancy testing.

You will also learn how to manage medical supplies and assist with minor surgical procedures.

You will learn how to do EKGs, perform injections, and draw blood.

Patient Care Technician Salary

The average salary of a patient care technician is $36,380.

Salaries typically range from $31,712 to $39,945.

How much you earn will depend on the setting you work in, your education, experience, and certifications.

Patient care technicians who hold more than one certification or specialize in an area may make more than other patient care technicians.

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