The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes patient care technicians in the medical assistant occupation group. According to the BLS, employment for this group is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate. Annual salaries range from $20,600 to $39,700, depending on the employing facility, location and the employee’s education and experience. Most patient care technicians work in physicians' offices. Others may work in hospitals or the offices of health practitioners, such as optometrists. Schools offer certificate programs for patient care technicians that may lead to certification.
Patient care technicians must have clinical skills in blood collection, recording vital signs, making notations in patient records, electrocardiograms (EKG), catheterization, the use of medical equipment and machines, and other patient care tasks.
Patient care technicians need skills in computer use, word processing or typing, use of office equipment such as fax machines and printers, and proper telephone etiquette. They may also use office skills for appointment scheduling, filing and retrieving records, reception and patient intake.
Patient care technicians must communicate effectively with patients, health care professionals, families and others. They must be skilled at listening, interviewing and providing information concisely and accurately, both verbally and in written form. Communication skills also help patient care technicians carry out verbal instructions.
Patient care technicians must have reading comprehension and writing skills. They must be able to read and interpret complex medical documents, instructions, procedural manuals, safety guidelines and regulatory materials. They need writing skills to document, record and instruct, and to write reports and complete forms.
Patient care technicians use math skills frequently and must have the ability to use whole numbers, fractions and units of measure to perform math functions such as ratios, percentages and simple math tasks such as addition and multiplication. They must interpret math-based instructions accurately and have the ability to use math in documenting patient care.
Patient care technicians use observation skills in patient monitoring, performance assessments, understanding the reactions of family members or coworkers, and being attentive to signs that increased attention or corrective action is required.
Patient care technicians use reasoning skills to practice critical thinking. They use logic to draw conclusions, make decisions and determine the best resolution for a situation. Through the use of reasoning skills, they are able to process and apply new information and knowledge, and to perform their duties proactively and in line with an overarching or abstract goal.