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How to Become a Nursing Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a nursing technician. Research the career requirements, training and certification information, and experience required to start a career as a nursing technician. View article »

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  • 0:05 Nursing Technician Overview
  • 1:22 Check State Requirements
  • 2:25 Gain Formal Education…
  • 3:01 Earn Professional…
  • 3:40 Continue Your Education

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Video Transcript

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
  • Nursing Science
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

Nursing Technician Overview

Nursing technicians, also known as nursing assistants or nursing aides help nurses with patient care. They also assist with daily activities, manage housekeeping duties, and provide some medical support, such as performing vital sign monitoring.

Nursing technicians usually work full-time and many work shifts in the evening, overnight, and on weekends, depending on the scheduling needs of their employer. They must be strong enough to assist and lift patients, and because they are often called upon to help maneuver patients, there's a risk of injury while doing so. The job can be physically demanding and technicians should expect to spend long hours on their feet.

Common Requirements
Degree Level None required
Certification Requirements vary
Experience None required
Key Skills Patience, compassion, and good communication skills
Technical Skills Ability to collect samples and take and record vital signs
Additional Requirements Physical strength and stamina, attention to detail
Salary (2015) $26,820 (Mean annual salary for nursing assistants)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings on CareerBuilder.com in October 2012

Let's look at the steps involved to become a nursing technician.

Step 1: Check State Requirements

Aspiring nursing technicians should check with their state licensing boards to determine the necessary education, training, and testing to work in this field, since it can vary by state and type of employer. Some states allow those interested in becoming a nursing technician to qualify with only a high school education. However, aspiring techs might need to complete a state-mandated training program, register with the state or obtain certification. Additionally, federal law regulates specific training and testing for those who provide nursing assistance in a nursing care institution.

Some states require nursing technicians to register and maintain their registration annually. Additionally, nursing technicians can earn national certification or obtain an interstate endorsement that allows them to work in multiple states. This might require college training, state examinations, health testing, and background screenings.

Step 2: Gain Formal Education or Training

Enrolling in a nursing assistant program could increase eligibility for employment with medical centers, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Community colleges and vocational schools offer training programs for nursing assistants. These programs typically include courses in anatomy, infection control, personal care, and nutrition. Nursing assistant and technician programs typically last 2-3 months and confer a certificate upon completion.

Step 3: Earn Professional Certification

There are several voluntary national certifications available to nursing technicians, but before pursuing one, a nursing technician might want to see if his or her state or prospective employer prefers or requires a certain one. One available certification is the Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) designation, offered through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). This credential can be earned by passing a test on healthcare procedures, treatments, and medical equipment.

Step 4: Continue Your Education

Some states and professional organizations require continuing education to maintain a credential. The NHA offers continuing education courses covering pharmacology topics, patient care and communication, legal healthcare issues and equipment handling. Courses in science or medical subjects taken through community colleges or vocational schools might also be acceptable.

In summary, education and credentialing requirements for nursing technicians vary by state and employer. These requirements might include formal education or training, state registration or national certification, and continuing education might be required.

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