If you’re looking for a fast track into the healthcare field and enjoy an ever-changing work environment, becoming a patient care technician can be an excellent move. Not only do patient care technicians make a difference with the support and care they provide, their days are filled with variety. From hospitals and medical practices to retirement communities and hospices, patient care techs can enjoy working in different settings and with different patients every single day. A patient care tech career can also be a great stepping stone to other more advanced positions in healthcare.
Whether you’re just starting to weigh your options or you’re ready to enroll, finding the right patient care program is an important first step. Continue reading to explore what educations options you have and to learn about key factors like cost and accreditation.
Top Online Patient Care Technician Certification Programs
Due to the projected increase of roles for patient care technicians, more and more community colleges and vocational schools are starting to offer training programs. Doing your research to learn about the pros and cons of each option is an important first step and can help you make an informed and confident decision.
We researched and vetted some of the best online patient care technician certification programs for 2020, with each offering the accreditation employers expect and the affordability you need to thrive. Get an inside look at two of the top programs for 2020.
FAQs on Online Patient Care Tech Certification
Not all online patient care tech certifications are created equally, making it important that you fully research your options to find the one that best meets your academic, professional, and financial needs. The following section provides key answers to questions you’re likely asking during this process.
Paying for Your Online Patient Care Technician Certification Program
Higher education can be expensive, but options exist to help you cut these costs and graduate without a mountain of debt. Lining up funding before you start a program gives you a better sense of what you may owe at the end and can help you motivated to continue looking for additional funding opportunities throughout your enrollment.
Scholarships & Grants
Colleges and vocational schools, professional associations, government agencies, and foundations all provide scholarships and grants that can be used towards your patient care technician program. Because they don’t have to be repaid, these types of awards tend to be highly competitive.
After exhausting other types of funding, student loans can help you bridge the gap between what you have and what you owe. By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you can learn how much in loan funding you qualify for.
Most programs at this level won’t offer paid fellowships or internships, but you may qualify for a digital work-study program at your college if you receive approval through the FAFSA. This provides an hourly wage in exchange for work, with funds available to use at your discretion.
Accreditation & Online Patient Care Tech Programs
Attending an accredited online patient care technician program is extremely important and failing to do so could lead to issues around becoming certified and finding employment. While no programmatic accrediting agency currently exists for patient care technician training programs, you can still look for institutional accreditation.
This type of accreditation falls into two categories: national and regional. Regional is considered the more rigorous and desirable of the two. If you don’t know whether your school holds proper accreditation, you can use the searchable Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to look up your college.
Career & Salary Outlook for Patient Care Technicians
Before committing yourself to an online patient care technician program, make sure the career and salary outlook matches your expectations and goals. Whether you value job stability, high wages, or both, we answer the questions that matter most below.
Are patient care technician careers in high demand?
If you’re looking for a stable career, working as a patient care technician can provide this for you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects roles for these professionals will grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the national average for all occupations.
Reasons for growth include an aging baby boomer population, an increase in demand for home-based services, and more interest in rehabilitative services.
How much do patient care technicians make?
Data from Payscale shows that the median salary for these professionals is $31,907 as of October 2020. Patient care technicians in the lowest 10% of earners received $23,000 while those in the top 10% brought home salaries of more than $48,000. Taking on leadership roles can also help boost these numbers, as can experience and continuing education.
Continuing Education & Related Degrees
After completing your online patient care technician training, you may decide to continue growing your career in that area or pursue something a little different. Regardless of which path you choose, plenty of options exist to help you take the next professional step. As you review some of the potential pathways below, consider which one best aligns with your five-year plan.
Best practices in patient care will continue to evolve as the healthcare field grows and progresses. Because of this, it’s important to keep your skills attuned to industry needs. For some patient care technicians, this could mean completing continuing education credits regularly. For you, it may mean pursuing related degrees that can help grow your career and lead to higher pay and/or more seniority. Below are just a few of the related degrees to consider after your online patient care tech program.
Related Degrees to Consider
Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technician
If you like providing direct care to your patients but find that you enjoy working with animals more than people, enrolling in an online vet tech program can help you take that career leap. These programs require two years of full-time study, can be done online or in-person, and exist at many community colleges and vocational schools.
Medical Assisting Certification
While patient care technicians focus solely on using their clinical skills to help others, medical assistants provide both clinical and administrative services. If you want to expand your abilities and widen your professional opportunities, enrolling in an online medical assistant program can help you do that in a short about of time.
Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Tech
If having the ability to dispense medications under the eye of a licensed pharmacist appeals to you, enrolling in an online pharmacy tech program provides the training needed to make that a reality. These programs usually take two years to complete and can be done in either online or campus-based formats.
Additional Resources for Patient Care Technician Students & Professionals
- National Registered Certified Patient Care TechnicianThe National Association for Health Professionals provides this registration to help you distinguish yourself from other PCTs.
- Certified Patient Care Technician/AssistantThe National Healthcareer Center offers a certification exam for you to demonstrate your knowledge and add a credential to your resume.
- National Center for Competency TestingThe NCCT provides the NCPCT exam to receive certification. You can qualify to take the exam via education, experience, or time in the military.
- A Day in the Life of a Patient Care TechnicianHarris School offers this overview of what you can expect your days to look like if you become a patient care technician.
- What it’s Like Being a PCT During Covid-19A current PCT shares her experience of working in this role during the global pandemic.
- How to Maximize Your Salary as a PCTCheck out this helpful YouTube to learn what you can do to earn the highest salary possible.
- Patient Care Technician AMACheck out this Reddit thread to have some of your pressing answers asked by someone in the field.
- Medical Assistant vs. Patient Care TechnicianIf you’re wondering about the differences and similarities between these two roles, Rasmussen College provides a comprehensive explanation.