How to Become a Patient Care Technician in Pennsylvania

People often work as patient care technicians to gain hands-on experience that could help them thrive in a future nursing career.

Education and Training

Certification programs, like the online courses below, will help you get started.

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Get information on Patient Care Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Program Benefits

Graduates from one of the courses will be ready to take the following certification exams:

NHA’s Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)

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or

AMCA’s Patient Care Technician Certification (PCTC)

american medical certification association logo

What Will You Study?

Classes typically include instruction in:

  • Medical terminology
  • Understanding the the human body
  • How care is provided in the PCT setting
  • Professional standards
  • Treating patients from diverse backgrounds
  • Critical thinking for PCTs
  • Creating positive patient outcomes
  • Passing certification exams

Program Length

The timeframe for completion of the 325 hour course is 1 year. You might be able to finish in less time since you can control your pace of study.

How Much Does it Cost?

Total cost is $2800, which includes a voucher for the certifying exam.  Monthly financing is also available.

Other Local Trade Schools with PCT Programs

Pennsylvania PCT Requirements

Certifications

Becoming a patient care tech in Pennsylvania requires a range of official certifications.

Whether you enroll in a trade school program or gain the necessary experience through on-the-job training, you’ll need to obtain Basic Life Support certification from either the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association to show your ability to render life-saving aid using CPR and first aid practices.

Additional Credentials

To perform advanced patient care duties like administering medications and drawing blood, techs can become a registered nurse aid, phlebotomist, and EKG technician through the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

You can also go through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) and earn a single credential that accounts for all those skills.

NHA Exam

Eligibility requirements for taking the NHA’s patient care technician certification exam include having a high school diploma or GED and either one year of supervised work experience in the industry or a certificate from an accredited training program.

If you have these qualifications, you can apply to take the certification exam, schedule a test date and location, and begin studying.

The NHA patient care technician certification exam consists of 100 questions covering the following topics:

  • Patient Care
  • Compliance, Safety, and Professional Responsibility
  • Infection Control
  • Phlebotomy
  • EKG

Test-takers have two hours to complete the in-person or online exam and can log into their NHA account to view their scores after two days.

In order to pass the patient care technician exam and obtain your official certification, you’ll need to score at least 390 out of a possible 500.

Experience

In some cases, extensive on-the-job training may be all it takes to become a patient care tech in PA.

After working at a nursing home, hospital, or other medical facility for a year or more, you might be able to gain enough experience to perform basic feeding, bathing, and mobility assistance tasks.

Salary Range

$48,526 is the average salary in the state based on data from Indeed.com.

However the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average for a nursing assistant at $39,780. The Bureau places these medical professionals in the Nursing Assistants and Orderlies category.

Below are some average salaries and hourly wages for parts of the state according to the same BSL data.

Area Hourly Annual
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton $19.15 $39,830.00
Altoona $17.89 $37,200.00
Bloomsburg-Berwick $17.22 $35,830.00
Chambersburg-Waynesboro $20.27 $42,170.00
East Stroudsburg $18.66 $38,810.00
Erie $17.76 $36,930.00
Gettysburg $18.60 $38,690.00
Harrisburg-Carlisle $18.72 $38,940.00
Johnstown $16.19 $33,670.00
Lancaster $19.12 $39,770.00
Lebanon $19.54 $40,650.00
Northern PA $17.66 $36,730.00
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington $19.83 $41,240.00
Pittsburgh $18.98 $39,470.00
Reading $19.70 $40,980.00
Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton $18.27 $38,000.00
Southern PA $17.71 $36,840.00
State College $18.07 $37,580.00
Western PA $17.60 $36,610.00
Williamsport $17.98 $37,400.00
York-Hanover $18.74 $38,980.00

Occupation: Nursing Assistants (SOC Code311131)
source: data.bls.gov

Salaries for this role are similar to the national average for phlebotomists, home health and personal care aides, and medical assistants.

However, since patient care technicians require extra training to perform specific medical tasks, they tend to make a bit more than some healthcare techs and assistants.

Some private nursing homes, hospitals, and rehab centers may be willing to pay even more.

Since patient care technician is such a versatile role, those planning to work in smaller medical facilities can negotiate higher wages too. Employers may prefer to hire a single patient care tech who can perform several duties over finding a CNA, phlebotomist, and EKG technician to fill separate positions.

Job Description

What Do They Do?

To become a patient care tech in Pennsylvania, you must have several skills, including a desire to help others, the ability to perform well under pressure, and a friendly, professional bedside manner to help put patients at ease.

A patient care technician is essentially a certified nursing assistant (CNA) with additional medical training. Working under the supervision of a nurse, doctor, or another healthcare professional, these workers administer care to patients.

Along with feeding and bathing patients, assisting with physical therapy exercises, and taking and monitoring vitals, patient care techs perform advanced tasks like:

  • Removing staples and stitches
  • Inserting catheters
  • Administering medications
  • Cleaning and dressing wounds
  • Collecting blood samples alongside phlebotomists
  • Operating advanced medical monitoring equipment like EKGs

Additional Responsibilities

Patient care technicians are also similar to medical assistants since they interact with patients to help them relax and feel comfortable during medical procedures.

In some cases, they may work alongside the LPN or physician to talk with the patient’s family about different health matters and care needs that could help improve the patient’s condition.

Career Outlook

Over the next decade, healthcare workers can expect a five-percent increase in the demand for patient care techs. Studies show that both EKG tech and phlebotomist jobs will be on the rise during that time frame as well.

Those looking for patient care technician jobs in Pennsylvania can apply for any of these roles and potentially earn a higher-than-average salary performing all three tasks at one facility.

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