Patient Care Assistant Certification & Certificate Program Info

Individuals interested in becoming a patient care assistant typically complete nursing assisting certificate programs to prepare for certification in the field. They may also complete a patient care technician program to enhance their knowledge and skills after passing the certification exam.

Essential Information

Patient care assistance programs train individuals to provide basic patient care under the supervision of the medical staff of nursing homes, long-term care facilities or other healthcare facilities. While certificates for patient care assistants or patient care technicians are beginning to become available, many students interested in this career first enter programs in nurse assisting, which prepare students for certification as certified nurse assistants (CNAs). Patient care technician programs are similar, and both program options involve a lot of hands-on, clinical work.

  • Patient Care Assistance Program Fields: Nurse Assistant, Patient Care Technician.
  • Prerequisites: A high school diploma or GED is needed for entry into nursing assisting programs. Applicants to a patient care technician program must currently be enrolled in a CNA course.
  • Program Length: Nursing assistant programs typically take a few months to complete, while the length of patient care technician programs varies based on the prerequisite skills required.
  • Other Requirements: Clinical experiences are typically required for program completion.

Certificate Programs for Certified Nurse Assistants

CNA programs provide the training necessary to pass state board exams and become certified. Students learn to keep patients comfortable, provide basic care and assist registered nurses. Students also learn techniques to assist nurses, such as collecting vital signs, as well as problem solving and communication skills. Programs usually include lectures and clinical experiences. Course topics include:

  • Basics of healthcare
  • Fundamental nursing skills
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • CPR training
  • Infection control

Certificate Programs for Patient Care Technicians

Patient care technician programs build upon the skills employed by CNAs. Students learn the technical, clerical and interpersonal skills necessary to properly assist medical staff in a variety of healthcare settings.

Students participate in classroom study and clinical opportunities. Students might also learn specific skills such as collecting vital signs, phlebotomy and EKG application. Courses might include:

  • Records and information processing
  • Patient care techniques
  • Medical terminology
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Communication

Popular Career Options

Patient care technicians and nursing assistants work for hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, rehabilitation clinics, long-term care facilities and in-home care providers. Aside from patient care technician and certified nursing assistant, job titles might include:

  • Nurse aid
  • Home health aid
  • Hospice assistant
  • Patient care assistant
  • Nursing assistant
  • Personal care assistant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, employment for nursing assistants is expected to grow 21% between 2012 and 2022. Most of the growth is in response to the growing elderly population and the number of patients entering long-term care facilities. The median salary for nursing assistants was $25,100 in 2014.

Continuing Education Information

Upon completion of a certified nursing assistant program, students may take their state board certification exams to become registered CNAs. Once individuals have obtained their CNA certification, they may consider pursuing certificate programs for patient care technicians or programs to become registered nurses as a means to advance their careers. Other opportunities for continuing education might be available through professional organizations, such as the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants or the National Association of Health Care Assistants.

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