Patient Care Technician Certification Requirements

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Not everyone is aware that the healthcare industry is in constant need of personnel.

One of the easier positions to get hired for is that of a patient care technician.

If you’re in need of a new job or simply consider working in the medical field, you could consider becoming a PCT.

Through this article, you’ll find out if you’re cut for this occupation or not.

We’ll also talk about the patient care technician certification requirements as well.

If we got you curious, read on!

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Patient Care Technician Job Description

If you already know what a patient care technician is expected to do, you will probably skip over this section.

On the other hand, you might want to stick around to double-check your knowledge of the job.

Patient care technicians and nurses are not one and the same thing.

In fact, nurses along with doctors supervise the work of patient care techs.

Patient care techs have many duties to complete, and these include:

  • Helping the patients with their hygiene
  • Monitoring the vitals of the patients
  • Talking to the patients’ families
  • Collecting blood or urine samples
  • Taking the samples to the lab
  • Escorting the patients to the various places for investigations
  • Maintaining rooms clean
  • Performing catheter care –  where needed
  • Feeding patients
  • Performing CPR if needed

One can understand these duties will be influenced by a number of factors, such as:

  • Where they work
  • What the patients suffer from
  • The patients’ care needs

It’s easy to understand that not all people in need of care also need the same type of care.

Patient Care Technician Job Requirements

You probably already know that it takes a certain type of person to perform those duties.

Clearly, the person seeking employment as a patient care technician needs both specific knowledge and skills.

Here are the main such attributes:

  • Being detail-oriented
  • Being registered with the Nurse Aide Registry of the state they work in
  • Having a clean criminal record
  • Passing a drug test
  • Having several certifications
  • Being compassionate
  • Having physical stamina
  • Having very good communication skills

As with the duties, the prerequisites for this position may also depend on the place you’ll apply for a job at.

Patient Care Technician Education and Training

We mentioned that the ideal candidates need to be listed in the Nurse Registry.

One can’t be listed in this Registry without a credential from the NHA.

Additionally, we mentioned that you’ll need some certifications.

One can only expect to have to meet some criteria to earn all these certifications.

Patient Care Technician Certification Requirements

The criteria are:

  • Having a high school diploma or GED
  • Having a clean criminal record
  • Graduating from a training course
  • Passing some exams

Let’s have a better look at the training course prerequisite.

The best program for a future patient care technician is one aimed at future certified nurse assistants or medical assistants.

However, you can find programs for patient care tech as well.

The courses you can find can last anywhere from a few months and up to two years.

If you enroll in the programs with a duration of a few months, you’ll earn a certificate upon graduation.

If the program lasts for around a year, you’re eligible to earn a diploma.

If you want an Associates’ Degree diploma, you must sign up for a program with a duration of 2 years.

You might wonder what subjects you’ll be attending.

Here’s a list of a few such classes:

  • Patient care
  • Medical terms
  • Nutrition
  • Patient charting 101
  • Introduction to anatomy
  • Patient cleanliness
  • Reading vital signs

The shorter courses will not offer practice hours in a clinical setting like the longer ones.

Additionally, the courses with a shorter duration may not offer the additional certifications you need.

This could mean you’ll have to take additional classes to obtain those credentials.

What we didn’t mention already are the requirements you have to meet to enroll in any of the programs.

Luckily, there aren’t many such prerequisites.

Besides the high school or GED diploma and the clean criminal record, you’ll also need:

  • To pass a TB test on the skin
  • To be vaccinated against:
    • MMR
    • Varicella
    • Hepatitis B
    • Flu
    • Tetanus

The vaccines will protect you and others from getting highly contagious illnesses.

We also didn’t mention that you can attend classes either in person or online.

This is valid for all the types of credentials you wish to obtain.

You might have to figure out the clinical practice hours on your own, though.

Patient Care Technician Certification

How about having a closer look at the certification process itself, now?

The first certification you’ll need is the one issued by the NHA, also known as the National Healthcare Association.

You’ll obtain this certificate by passing an exam.

To sign up for the test you’ll need to complete one of the following:

  • Graduate from a training program as explained earlier
  • Accumulate 1 year of related experience

Usually, the experience would be as a certified nurse assistant.

The test you’ll need to pass is the one called the patient care technician or assistant (CPCT/A) exam.

This exam costs $149, however, this fee might be included in the tuition you paid for your education.

Your school should inform you if this is the case or not.

Those who don’t feel fully prepared can use the resources offered by the NHA.

However, these resources come at an additional price of $155 per resource.

The exam you need to pass has a duration of an hour and 50 minutes.

There are 100 questions on the test, with an additional 20 questions you’ll need to answer before the exam.

The questions cover the following topics:

  • Patient care
  • Compliance
  • Safety
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Infection Control
  • Phlebotomy
  • EKG

The test can be taken at the school you completed the training program, or at testing centers.

It’s very common for the exam to be completed online, though using old-school paper and pen for the test is a possibility as well.

Candidates will receive their results in 2 days and their certificates in 2 weeks if they passed.

Patient Care Technician Additional Certifications

There are several additional credentials that patient care technicians can earn.

One of them is for CPR.

CPR is a procedure that all medical personnel must know.

This procedure requires a certificate that is valid for as long as its holder is alive.

Another credential you can earn is for phlebotomy.

You will learn phlebotomy in your training program and you’ll be answering several questions related to this area in the exam.

Despite this, you can get specific training and certification for the procedure.

The same situation happens with the EKG certification.

Both of these certifications are useful if you want to pursue a career in a medical field related to the heart and blood.

All the extra credentials you can earn will not only open the doors to better career options and a better salary.


The conclusion we can draw from this presentation is that patient care technicians don’t have to meet many requirements to get certified.

There are more requirements related to the hiring process and criteria than for the certification process.

The most difficult prerequisites to meet, to earn the credential, are:

  • To complete your education
  • To pass the NHA examination

Knowing the path awaiting you for a specific job will only make things easier.

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