Patient Care Technician vs. Certified Medical Assistant: What’s the Difference?

You love the medical field and can’t wait to begin your new career. The only problem is that you can’t decide if working as a patient care technician or a certified medical assistant is the right choice for you. Keep reading to learn the most important details about these exciting career choices.

What is a Patient Care Technician?

Patient care technicians, also known as nursing assistants or orderlies, are a vital part of each patient’s care team. Your primary responsibility in this role is to work with nurses and other medical staff to ensure the patients in your care are as comfortable as possible. Here are some typical duties assigned to patient care technicians:

  • Assist patients with eating and dressing
  • Bathe patients
  • Change sheets
  • Help patients use the restroom
  • Provide emotional support to patients and their family members
  • Take patients’ vital signs, such as temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate

According to the career website Indeed.com, the average base salary for patient care technicians before considering benefits is $18.58 per hour. Those at the lower end of the wage scale earn about $12.12 per hour. However, those at the highest end can make as much as $28.49 per hour!

You can train for this entry-level position in healthcare in as little as eight weeks with Advanced eClinical Training (ACT). The self-paced training program is entirely online.

Once you have completed the Certified Patient Care Technician Certification Program, you are ready to take the certification exam and start training. We recommend taking your certification exam through the American Medical Certification Association or the National Healthcareer Association.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Patient Care Technician Certification?

According to the National Healthcareer Association, 78 percent of employers require (or encourage) patient care technicians to have a certificate. The good news is that becoming certified opens many more doors for you. Here are some of the other positions you could qualify for as a certified patient care technician:

  • Certified nursing assistant
  • Home health aid
  • Home health assistant
  • Patient care assistant
  • Patient care associate

The National Healthcareer Association also indicates that certified patient care technicians earn an annual salary between $21,290 to $39,560. The exact amount you will earn depends on several factors, including whether you work full-time or part-time, your education and experience, and the geographic location where you work.

What is a Certified Medical Assistant?

While patient care technicians work directly with patients most of the time, certified medical assistants complete a mix of patient care and administrative duties. Typical responsibilities of this position include:

  • Answer phone calls and emails
  • Collect specimens and samples
  • Complete insurance forms
  • Conduct patient interviews
  • Correspond with patients, insurance companies, and other medical professionals
  • Explain treatment plans to patients
  • Maintain patient files
  • Order supplies
  • Schedule appointments
  • Sterilize medical equipment
  • Take patient vital signs

Certified medical assistants work in a variety of medical settings, just as patient care technicians do. Some examples include clinics, hospitals, medical research centers, medical coding and billing offices, and colleges and universities.

The eight-week online and self-paced Certified Clinical Medical Assistant Program is an ideal choice if you want to gain healthcare experience before furthering your education and career. Our students often go on to complete training to become doctors, nurses, or physician assistants. After finishing your coursework with us, you will be ready to take the certification exam offered by the National Healthcareer Association.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Medical Assistant Certification?

Earning a certificate as a medical assistant opens the door for you to work in various settings and specialties. For example, you might work in a clinic, hospital, or other traditional medical setting performing some or all the duties listed above.

You could also work as an administrative medical assistant. This position requires a unique skill set because you spend most of your time behind a desk scheduling appointments, filing insurance reimbursement forms, answering the phone, and related administrative tasks in a medical setting.

Working as a specialty medical assistant is another avenue open to you after graduating from ACT. Chiropractors, OB/GYN doctors, ophthalmologists, and podiatrists are just four examples of healthcare specialties that need medical assistants to help serve and care for patients.

Begin Training for Your New Career Today With ACT!

At ACT, we like to keep things simple, which is why we provide immediate access to coursework after registration. Are you ready to start your flexible, self-paced, and fully online healthcare training program? Enroll today or connect with us if you have additional questions!

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