Care + Career

      Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

      Patient Care Tech Career Outlook & Trends

      We are passionate about keeping our materials and certifications relevant and meaningful to help empower allied health professionals reach their career goals. Before we made the recent updates to NHA's Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) exam, we spoke to employers and current patient care technicians, and would like to share some of the information and insights we discovered. Knowledge is power, and we hope this information will help you — whether you're currently working in healthcare or aspire to one day!


      What do Patient Care Technicians do?

      Patient care technicians (PCT’s) — also called patient care associates — tend to ill and injured individuals and assist with critical day-to-day care. They primarily work under the supervision of a nurse but may occasionally work under the supervision of a provider such as a physician.

      Typical duties performed by a PCT include:

      • Providing basic patient care (bathing, feeding, catheter care) and accommodating the special needs of patients
      • Acquiring, distributing and administering patient care supplies
      • Collecting laboratory specimens
      • Performing safety checks and ensuring cleanliness in patient rooms
      • Monitoring and recording vital signs/changes in patient health
      • Performing EKG and phlebotomy procedures
      • Providing emotional support to patients and families, particularly coping with grief and death

      Where do Patient Care Technicians work?

      According to our survey, Patient Care Technicians most often work in hospitals, followed by home care agencies and then nursing homes. Check out the chart below to see the breakdown.

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      What does Patient Care Technician training look like?

      Training for a PCT can vary. You can expect hospital training programs to be between 2-3 months, while community colleges and vocational programs are between 7 months and 2 years.

      To help with certification, along with our updated exam, we also released new study materials including practice exams, interactive gaming activities, enhanced digital flashcards and more! To learn more about these valuable resources and the steps toward becoming a CPCT/A, go to

      How much do Patient Care Technicians make?

      PCT salaries can vary from one organization to the next. According to ZipRecruiter, the average national salary as of December 2018 is $29K. Annual salaries can be as high as $47,000, and usually range between $24,500 (25th percentile) to $31,000 (75th percentile) across the country.


      What are employers looking for in Patient Care Technicians?

      The employers we surveyed listed the skills they valued most in PCT's, and the skills they felt PCT's had an opportunity to develop (charted below). Hone in on these skills to help accelerate your career!

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      Download the rest of the PCT research in our industry publication, accessTM.


      What current trends can we expect to see continue in this profession?

      There are two key trends we don't see changing in the near future: Stacking credentials and an increase in responsibilities.

      Stacking credentials can help give allied health professionals an advantage when it comes to starting and growing their careers. NHA Certification Holders most commonly stack the following credentials with CPCT/A:

      • CPT
      • CET
      • CCMA

      Stacking credentials can also show employers that you are equipped to handle a variety of tasks — which is great considering 37% of the employers we surveyed indicated the level of responsibility for patient care technicians is increasing.

      Considering entering the healthcare industry? Looking to demonstrate to employers your competency and commitment? Click here to learn how to earn a nationally-accredited healthcare certification with NHA.  

      Topics: allied health careers, career path, patient care