Depending on whether a health care or rehab technician program is pursued, career options span from becoming a certified nursing assistant and health care assistant to a community support worker and mental health crisis worker. Both programs prepare students to apply for certification in the patient care or counseling fields. The programs are also commonly available partially online. Students in the health care program complete externships and practica in specific study areas.
Health Care Certificate
These programs are designed to train students in basic patient care and to teach them the clerical skills needed to document patient conditions, vital signs, and treatment plans. They learn the basics of anatomy and physiology and are trained in phlebotomy, cardiac monitoring, and electrocardiography. Students are awarded a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate upon successful completion of the program, and are qualified to sit for the National Certified Patient Care Technician (NCPCT) exam and the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT) exam.
These programs consist of 26.5-27.5 credits and are designed to be completed in two quarters. Health care skills are taught along with study in laws and ethics of the health professions. Some topics may include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Emergency response CPR
- Health calculations
Rehabilitation Technician Certificate
This program is designed to teach students how to work with mental health patients and emphasizes study in rehabilitation skills, psychology, mental health, and human services. Successful completion of the program prepares a graduate to sit for the Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor Associate (CADCA) state certification exam. These programs are ideal for individuals who are considering training at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Students have up to three years to finish the program.
These programs consist of 30 credit hours with time of completion dependent on the school. Students are introduced to case management, vocational rehabilitation and counseling. Some topics in the programs may include:
- Community mental health care
- Mental health and aging
- Chemical dependency counseling
- Substance abuse counseling
- Sexual abuse
- Behavioral health
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a health care certificate program can find entry-level positions in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and nursing homes. Job duties may include helping patients with personal needs, such as dressing, feeding, and checking vital signs. Typical job titles may include:
- Certified nursing assistant
- Clinical support associate
- Health care assistant
- Nurse's aid
Graduates of a rehab technician certificate program can find job opportunities in hospitals, outpatient clinics, day treatment centers, correctional facilities, and residential care facilities. Job duties may include documenting patient activity and vital signs, observation, supervising group activities, monitoring the use and effects of medications, and assisting the medical staff. Some job titles include these:
- Community support worker
- Home-based family services staff
- Mental health crisis worker
- Day treatment worker
- Community support worker
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 3.99 million jobs held by healthcare support workers in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
The projected job growth for the following occupations were reported as such by the BLS for the 2014-2024 decade: nursing assistants and orderlies, 17%; home health aides, 38%; occupational therapy assistants and aides, 40%.The BLS reported the median annual salary for healthcare social workers in May 2015 as $52,380; individuals in healthcare support occupations in general earned a median annual salary of $27,040 in 2015, per the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of a health care certificate program may choose to enroll in an associate's degree program to become a registered nurse. From there, individuals may go on to bachelor's degree programs in nursing that prepare them for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) exam. Master's degree programs prepare nurses for leadership and administrative roles. A doctoral degree prepares nurses for research positions and academic careers.
Many graduates of a rehab technician certificate program enroll in associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree programs to learn advanced skills and enhance marketability. Individuals with bachelor's degrees or higher can enroll in graduate certificate programs to learn advanced skills and prepare for leadership roles.
Students who earn health care and rehab technician certificates typically seek entry-level healthcare positions. They often go on to enroll in associate's and bachelor's level degree programs to become more marketable in the healthcare field.