PCT VS CNA: What’s The Difference?

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The healthcare industry is always in need of personnel, as many of you out there already know.

Positions include doctors, nurses, patient care technicians (PCTs), certified nurse assistants (CNAs), and more.

Oh, what was that?

What’s the difference between PCTs and CNAs?

Glad you asked because you’ll learn just that through this article, so read on!

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What Is a PCT?

It’s pretty obvious that one can’t understand the difference between two professionals without knowing what they are or do.

Let’s learn more about what a patient care tech is and what they do.

PCT Job Description and Duties

Patient care techs are medical personnel whose work is under the supervision of doctors and nurses.

These professionals perform some specific medical tasks that need supervision.

Here are some of the main duties of a patient care technician:

  • Helping with personal hygiene
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Drawing samples of blood
  • Collecting urine samples
  • Sending the samples to the lab
  • Performing CPR
  • Administering IVs
  • Helping the patients reach various places in the facility

Of course, these could vary based on the sick people they need to look after.

Additionally, some of the tasks could be different from one workplace to another.

PCT Job Requirements

It goes without saying that when seeking employment as a patient care tech, you’ll have to meet some requirements.

The prerequisites are for your abilities and knowledge.

When searching for the best candidate, employers seek folks with:

  • Compassion
  • Attention to details
  • Certification for CPR, EKG, etc
  • Clean criminal record
  • Physical stamina
  • Good communication skills
  • Registration in the state’s Nurse Aide Registry
  • The ability to anticipate needs
  • The ability to work in a team

It’s pretty clear that having good communication skills is important when dealing with so many people – doctors, nurses, patients, their families.

Anticipating needs and meeting them, makes a person more efficient and thus more valuable.

PCT Job Education and Certification

It might not be obvious but patient care technicians do need to become certified.

The Nurse Aide Registry doesn’t accept individuals who aren’t certified.

Certification is only granted to those who graduated from an appropriate training program or who have accumulated 1 year of experience in the healthcare industry.

The programs available to patient care techs last for different amounts of time.

The shortest programs are a few months long and the longest ones are about 2 years long.

Students can earn certificates, diplomas, or degrees depending on the program they attend.

The higher the credential you earn, the better career options you’ll have.

You can earn more certifications through these programs that will be useful for your career.

In these courses, you’ll be studying these subjects among others:

  • Medical terms and abbreviations
  • CPR
  • First aide techniques
  • Drawing blood
  • Inserting catheters
  • Patient safety
  • Basic care
  • Monitoring and recording bodily functions

However, the Nurse Aide Registry requires the credential from the NHA or National Health Association.

You’ll have to pass a 2-hour exam with 120 total questions for this one.

Employment for PCTs

Once you have all the credentials as a patient care technician, it’s time you found employment.

Luckily, finding employment will be rather easy.

This is because many facilities want to hire and need patient care technicians.

PCT VS CNA: What's The Difference?

Here are some of these facilities:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Long term care facilities
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Hospices
  • Urgent care
  • Rehabilitation centers

It is possible to find other institutions, besides the ones mentioned, that seek patient care techs.

Additionally, you have the possibility of earning a degree and even more certifications.

This is important to know because doing so, will increase your chances of getting employed by a better facility, have more career opportunities, including a higher wage.

What is a CNA?

It’s now the time we learned more about certified nurse assistants.

The job of a certified nurse assistant is often seen as entry-level.

This is because many healthcare and medical personnel use this position as a starting point for their careers.

CNAs Job Description and Duties

Despite the CNAs having an entry-level position, they still have many responsibilities to complete.

Here are the most common job duties certified nurse assistants must complete:

  • Gathering and stocking medical supplies
  • Checking vital signs
  • Documenting information
  • Assisting with some medical procedures
  • Cleaning rooms and bed linens
  • Performing safety procedures
  • Transporting patients
  • Cleaning and dressing wounds

Just like with patient care technicians, the duties of a certified nurse assistant will vary depending on the facility they work for and the patients they look after.

It’s quite common for some of the facilities to demand certified nurse assistants to perform only certain tasks.

Additionally, just like PCTs, certified nurse assistants also work supervised.

Their supervision comes mostly from a nurse.

CNAs Job Requirements

You can expect to have to meet a few prerequisites in order to become a certified nurse assistant.

The ideal candidate for this position has many common attributes with patient care techs.

These include:

  • Compassion
  • Attention to details
  • Clean criminal record
  • Physical stamina
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to work in a team

It’s possible for some of the employers to demand you have training and certification to perform CPR as well if needed.

CNAs Job Education and Certification

One of the first things to know regarding the education requirements of a certified nurse assistant is that this aspect generally depends from state to state.

As a general idea, however, these professionals don’t need much knowledge for their job compared to most of their co-workers.

Those who want to enroll in some training program need to ensure first they found one approved by the state.

Unlike the courses for patient care techs, the ones for CNAs last between 4 and 8 weeks.

The classes focus on:

  • Patient care
  • Ethical and moral understanding
  • Basic medical skills

The basic medical skills will be the ones needed to perform the duties of the job, such as performing the vital readings.

Additionally, medical terms and abbreviations may also be included.

Getting certified involves having to take and pass an exam.

The test will have 2 parts:

  • One in which you’ll show the accumulated knowledge
  • One in which you’ll demonstrate your skills

The test is known as NNAAP which is short for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam.

Employment for CNAs

Curiously enough, certified nurse assistants are not seen in all the settings a patient care technician is seen.

Additionally, you’re less likely to get hired for this position without holding a credential.

Certified nurse assistants are mostly employed at:

  • Nursing homes
  • Adult care facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers

Other facilities might also be in need of certified nurse assistants.

It goes without saying that more training or certifications will increase your chances of getting employed.

Since certified nurse assistants are seen as entry-level employees, it means that not many people spend a lot of time working this job.


Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what these healthcare workers are expected to do and what they are.

It’s fairly easy to see that PCTs are basically above certified nurse assistants as far as education and job duties are concerned.

However, their schedules might be similar, including night and weekend shifts.

In fact, many patient care technicians start their careers as certified nurse assistants.

Working as a certified nurse assistant for at least a year is enough for a PCT to become certified.

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