If you want to pursue a career in healthcare but don’t want to spend years in training, a career as a patient care tech may be a good fit for you. Patient care technicians (PCTs) work closely with patients, providing quality care and support as they receive treatment for physical or mental ailments.
Like any other career, one of your first concerns will be your earnings. How much can you make as a PCT? Let’s take a closer look at what a PCT does, what kind of training you need and the average patient care technician salary.
What is a Patient Care Technician (PCT)?
A patient care tech supports doctors, nurses and other staff when caring for patients. They work under the supervision of nurses and the rest of the care team.
A PCT is one step up from a certified nursing assistant (CNA). They require more training and have more responsibilities than a CNA. The pay is also higher.
Responsibilities and duties may include:
- Conducting tests, obtaining specimens and recording results
- Providing care to patients, including support and guidance
- Ensuring patients are eating and staying hydrated
- Escorting patients to imaging and testing rooms
- Monitoring patient conditions and reporting to staff
- Caring for wounds, including removing stitches and staples
- Checking patient vitals
The support they provide helps streamline and improve the quality of patient care.
PCTs work in hospitals, assisted living communities, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and other clinical settings.
Patient Care Tech Educational Requirements
The first step to becoming a patient care tech is to obtain a high school diploma. The next step is to attend an accredited university or college to obtain your certification. Along with completing an approved program, you will also need to:
- Pass the NCLEX exam
- Pass the certification exam before the National Healthcare Association
- Obtain certification from your state
Employers may also require PCTs to obtain a professional certification and complete continuing education training.
Patient Care Tech Pay
Like any other job, a PCT’s salary will depend on their location and experience. In this PCT salary guide, we’ll look at the national average and some of the highest-paying cities for this profession.
The national average salary for patient care technicians is:
- $29,952, or $14/hour
Those in the top percentile may earn $40,500+, while those in the lowest percentile may only earn $13,000-$15,000.
Some of the top-paying cities for PCTs include:
- Sunnyvale, CA: $35,757
- Santa Cruz, CA: $35,427
- Williston, ND: $33,930
- Manhattan, NY: $33,841
- Cambridge, MA: $33,517
- Arlington, VA: $33,234
- Dickinson, ND: $33,030
Generally, if you live in a higher-cost area, you can expect to earn a higher salary as a PCT.
The highest-paying states for PCTs are:
- Vermont: $47,570
- Hawaii: $44,507
- California: $44,242
- Massachusetts: $39,611
- Oregon: $38,092
- Montana: $37,004
- New Hampshire: $36,823
Just as there are states that offer higher salaries to PCTs, there are also states where the pay is less than ideal. States where patient care techs earn the least are:
- Kentucky: $23,684
- Maryland: $24,895
- Idaho: $26,345
- North Carolina: $26,656
- Alaska: $26,962
- Indiana: $27,235
- Virginia: $27,600
Overall, salaries for PCTs have been on the rise. In 2013, the average salary for a patient care tech was $25,200. In 2022, the average salary is around $30,000.
Recent Salaries from PCT Job Postings
Along with national salary data, you can also get an idea of how much PCTs earn from looking at recent job listings. Some recent postings list the following salaries:
- $39,319 in Las Vegas, NV
- $35,855 in Toms River, NJ
- $35,604 in Madison, WI
- $37,566 in Denver, CO
- $29,218 in Richmond, VA
- $41,740 in Dallas, TX
- $38,880 in Seattle, WA
If you have an associate degree or some college education, you can earn an overall higher salary as a PCT. However, data shows that a bachelor’s degree will only increase your salary by a negligible amount.
PCT Career Outlook
Jobs in healthcare are in high demand, and that includes patient care techs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are projected to grow 8% between 2020 and 2030.
With an aging population and growing need for healthcare, demand for PCTs may continue to rise.
For many, a career as a PCT is a steppingstone into a more advanced healthcare career. Some go on to become registered nurses or even doctors. A career as a PCT can be a lifelong one, but it can also be a great way to get your foot in the door if you want to pursue another role.
PCTs may eventually enter careers as:
- Patient sitters
- Behavioral health technicians
- Patient escorts
- Hemodialysis technicians
There are many opportunities to enter other career paths or specializations once you’ve completed your training as a PCT.
A career as a patient care tech is very rewarding. You provide important care, support and guidance to patients. PCTs make a difference in people’s lives and are an important part of the overall care team.