What Is the Difference Between CNA and a Patient Care Technician?

If you are considering a career in healthcare but need help figuring out where to start, you’re not alone. Knowing which course to take can be overwhelming, with many alternatives available. Two popular entry-level positions are Patient Care Technicians (PCTs) or Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

The Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that employment of nursing assistants, including CNAs, will grow 5% between 2021 and 2031, significantly faster than the average for all occupations. Additionally, the demand for PCTs is anticipated to increase at a 9% annual pace between 2019 and 2029.

In this blog, we will cover the difference between a CNA and a patient care technician role, their responsibilities, and how to seek a career in either profession. So, discover more about these crucial healthcare vocations here.

What is a Patient Care Technician?

A Patient Care Technician (PCT) is a healthcare practitioner that gives patients hands-on care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other medical settings.

PCTs assist nurses and physicians with patient care by taking vital signs, administering medications, collecting specimens for testing, performing basic medical procedures such as catheter insertion or wound care, and supporting patients with day-to-day activities including proper bathing, helping with dressing, and eating.

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PCTs ensure patients receive high-quality treatment and are comfortable during their hospital stay. A patient care career is rewarding for people who are passionate about helping others and want to work in the healthcare industry.

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a type of healthcare practitioner who offers primary nursing care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. CNAs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to assist patients with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and feeding.

They also assist with patient mobility, twisting and positioning, and vital sign monitoring. Patient care duties include helping with medical processes like collecting specimens for testing and wound treatment.

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They are essential in maintaining patients’ comfort and well-being during hospital or long-term care. This is a challenging but rewarding career path for people who enjoy helping others and working in healthcare.

What are a patient care technician’s duties and responsibilities?

The responsibilities of a Patient Care Technician may differ based on the healthcare context in which they work. However, the most typical roles and obligations of a PCT are as follows:

  • Helping patients with daily tasks like eating, washing, dressing, and grooming.
  • Taking and recording vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  • Administering medications as prescribed by a physician or nurse.
  • Collecting specimens for testing and processing.
  • Performing basic medical procedures, such as inserting catheters, administering enemas, and changing wound dressings.
  • Monitoring and documenting patient responses to treatments and medications.
  • Assisting with patient mobility, including turning and repositioning patients.
  • Keeping the patient area tidy and secure.
  • Communicating with healthcare team members regarding patient care and concerns.
  • Providing emotional support and comfort to patients and their families.

What are a Certified Nursing Assistant duties and responsibilities?

The roles and responsibilities of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) may vary depending on the healthcare setting they work in. However, some everyday duties and responsibilities of a CNA include the following:

  • Checking and documenting vital indicators like pulse, temperature, and blood pressure.
  • Assisting with patient mobility, including turning and repositioning patients.
  • Monitoring and reporting changes in patient condition to the nursing staff.
  • Collecting specimens for testing and processing.
  • Assisting with medical procedures, such as catheterizations, enemas, and wound care.
  • Performing basic nursing tasks, such as administering medications and changing dressings.
  • Keeping patient rooms clean and organized.
  • Documenting patient care in medical records.
  • Providing emotional support and comfort to patients and their families.
  • Helping patients with daily life activities like feeding, dressing, and grooming.

How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

You must finish a state-approved CNA certifications training program and pass a competency exam to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). The requirements for training programs and exams vary by state. However, the following are the main processes to becoming a CNA:

Learn about the regulations in your state: Check with your state’s nursing board for precise requirements for becoming a CNA, such as the number of training hours and exams required.

Enroll in a training program approved by the state: Look for a state-approved certified nursing assistant program coursework that fulfils your state’s regulations. These classes are available in trade schools, community colleges, and some nursing homes.

Finish the training program: The training program typically consists of both classroom education and hands-on clinical experience. Throughout the program, you will learn the skills and knowledge required to become a CNA.

Pass the competency exam: After finishing the training program, you must pass a competency exam to get certified. The exam often includes written and practical components in which you demonstrate your skills in a clinical setting.

Apply for certification: After completing the competency exam, you can apply with your state’s nursing board. After earning your certificate, you can begin working as a CNA.

Read More:- Essential Skills Needed to Be a Certified Nursing Assistant

How to Become a Patient Care Technician?

To become a Patient Care Technician (PCT), you must first complete patient care assistant training and be certified as a Patient Care Assistant (PCA). Specific criteria differ depending on the state and company. However, the significant steps of obtaining a PCT are as follows:

Research your state’s regulations: Contact your state’s nursing board to learn more about the requirements for becoming a PCT.

Take part in a training program: Look for a state-approved training program that meets your state’s requirements. Trade schools, community colleges, and certain hospitals provide these classes.

Complete the training program: The training program typically includes classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. You will learn the necessary skills and information to become a PCT during the training.

Finish the training program: The training program usually includes classroom education and hands-on clinical experience. Throughout the program, you will acquire the knowledge and abilities needed to become a PCT.

Pass the certification exam: To get certified, you must finish the Patient care assistant training program and then pass a certification exam. The exam often has a written and practical section where you have to show off your abilities in a medical environment.

Apply for certification: Once you have passed the certification exam, you can apply with a reputable certifying agency. Once you have been given the green light, you can start working as a PCT.

Should I choose CNA as a career?

A Certified Nursing Assistant career can be rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling. CNAs provide primary patient care in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home healthcare organizations. CNAs can also help with medical procedures, check vital signs, and emotionally support patients and their families.

One advantage of becoming a CNA is that it requires minimal schooling or training. To become a certified nursing assistant, you must typically complete a state-approved CNA certifications training program and pass a certification exam. The length of training varies by state. However, it generally is lower than in other healthcare occupations, such as nursing.

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Another advantage of working as a CNA is the favourable job outlook. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), employment of nursing assistants is predicted to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth can be ascribed partly to an ageing population and increased demand for healthcare services.

Finally, your interests, talents, and objectives will determine whether or not you should pursue a career as a CNA. If you enjoy helping people and working in a healthcare setting, a career as a CNA may be a good fit for you. Speak with current CNAs or healthcare workers to better understand the field.

Should I choose PCT as a career?

Choosing a career can be complex because it takes carefully evaluating several aspects, including interests, talents, and job prospects. A Patient Care career is a good choice for those interested in healthcare and who enjoy working with patients. However, before making a decision, it is critical to understand the employment needs, education and training requirements, and job prospects in this industry.

A high school certificate or equivalent and certification from a recognized institution are generally required to become a PCT. These Patient care assistant training programs usually last several months and cover patient care, infection control, and medical terminology. Some PCT programs also provide hands-on clinical practice, which can help students learn practical skills and prepare for jobs.

Job prospects are one of the advantages of choosing a career as a PCT. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nursing assistants, orderlies, and attendants, including PCTs, is expected to expand by 8% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the national average. The ageing baby boomer generation is predicted to drive up demand for healthcare services, necessitating an increase in healthcare professionals, especially PCTs.

How Much Does a CNA Make?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for nursing assistants, which includes Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), was $30,310 in May 2021.

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The lowest 10% made less than $24,020, while the wealthiest 10% earned more than $43,040. CNA salaries vary according to criteria such as geographic region, experience, and the type of healthcare facility in which they work.

How Much Does a PCT Make?

As per the report of zippia.com, the average annual wage of the patient care technician is ranging between $24,000 and $43,000.

In the United states, The average wage of PCT is $32,806.

Key Takeaways

While the tasks of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a Patient Care Technician (PCT) are similar, there are some significant variances.

CNAs operate under the supervision of registered nurses or other medical professionals and generally assist patients with activities of daily living.

PCTs, on the other hand, have a more extensive set of duties that may include aiding with medical procedures, dispensing prescriptions, running diagnostic testing, and providing primary patient care. PCTs may collaborate more closely with other healthcare providers, such as physicians or therapists.

Choosing a PCT vs CNA career may be influenced by an individual’s interests, talents, and career objectives. Both positions provide possibilities to work in healthcare and make a difference in patients’ lives, but the specific duties and responsibilities may differ.


1. What is the main difference between CNA and PCT?

The primary distinction between a CNA vs. PCT is that CNAs primarily assist patients with activities of daily living. In contrast, PCTs may be responsible for dispensing prescriptions, running diagnostic tests, and aiding with medical procedures.

2. Which medical career is highly paid? CNA or PCT?

CNAs and PCTs often receive a comparable median annual income of $31,150 as of May 2020. Salaries, however, may differ depending on criteria such as geographic area, experience, and the type of healthcare facility in which they work.

3. Which medical career training is long? CNA or PCT?

CNA and PCT training duration vary depending on the curriculum and state standards. However, both programs can take several months to complete.

4. Which is a tough job between CNA and PCT?

CNA vs. Patient Care Technician positions can be physically and emotionally taxing, necessitating patience, compassion, and attention to detail. Individual circumstances, such as the type of healthcare facility and patient group, may influence the difficulty level.

5. Is CNA the same as PCT?

While the duties of CNA and PCT are similar, there are some significant variations, including the scope of practice and responsibilities.

6. What is another name for a patient care technician?

A Patient Care Technician (PCT) is another term for a Patient Care Assistant (PCA).

7. What is the difference between a CNA and a nursing assistant?

There is no discernible distinction between a CNA and a nursing assistant. Both phrases are frequently used interchangeably to denote the same function.

8. Where does PCT make the most money?

PCT salaries vary depending on geographic area, experience, and the type of healthcare facility they work in. PCTs may earn the most in states with higher living costs or specialized healthcare settings such as hospitals or surgical centres.