What Are The Differences Between Medical Assistants and Patient Care Technicians?

Multiple roles in the healthcare industry are designed to help improve patient care and support doctors. Two such roles are medical assistants and patient care technicians.

When comparing the two, most people do not understand the difference and often confuse one with the other. To choose which career aligns with your interests and skills, you need to understand each role. So, if you want to help people and are interested in medicine, let us look at medical assistants versus patient care technicians.

What is a PCT or patient care technician?

A PCT or patient care technician is someone who works in the healthcare industry and works directly with patients. They are required to support doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to help provide patients with the utmost care. Some duties they perform include helping patients move around, checking vitals, and providing support during stressful times.

What is an MA or medical assistant?

Medical assistants in a healthcare facility are required to perform certain clinical and administrative duties that include filing documents, creating reports, and connecting with insurance agencies. This means that medical assistants need to work with patients directly. But they also have some administrative responsibilities like compiling patient history or filing documents.

Medical assistants are required to work directly under the supervision of a registered nurse, physician, or doctor. They are most commonly found in clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s offices.

Read More:- How to Become a Medical Assistant

Differences between medical assistant and patient care technician

To get a better understanding between medical assistants vs. patient care technicians, here are some differences that we need to understand:


The educational requirement to become a patient care technician and a medical assistant have one aspect in common – both need to be certified to work in the healthcare sector. The training program at AIHT Education for Patient Care Technician is about 4 month in length and the Medical Assistant program is 9 months in length.

Read More:- Is Medical Assisting The Right Career Choice for You?

Hours required and job location:

PCTs work in sectors where they are supposed to spend more time with patients. This includes hospitals, long-term facilities, and nursing homes. The working hours can depend based on the type of patients they work with, but most are required to work during the day. Patient care technicians are also required to work on holidays and weekends.

On the other hand, medical assistants have more administrative work in locations like clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. These offices are open during business hours and sometimes on the weekends. Additionally, these locations are closed on holidays, but again this depends on the office.

Job duties of a patient care technician and a medical assistant

One of the biggest differences between PCTs and MAs are their job duties. Some patient care technician responsibilities include:

  • Helping patients with their daily activities, such as eating, dressing, and bathing
  • Repositioning patients who have difficulty moving around
  • Listening to the problems patients face and alerting staff when required
  • Provide emotional support in stressful situations

Medical assistants also need to work with patients, but their tasks are more administrative. Some medical assistant roles and responsibilities include:

  • Helping in patient examinations
  • Scheduling doctor-patient appointments
  • Recording the history of the patient
  • Completing insurance forms
  • Administering IVs

Both patient care technicians and medical assistants are required to perform the following:

  • Taking the patient’s vital signs
  • Administering medicine
  • Providing support to patients


There are some skills that both PCTs and medical assistants need to have to work in their respective roles in the healthcare sector. This includes:

  • Monitoring and recording vital signs
  • Time management
  • Interacting with patients to comprehend their issues

But there are some soft skills that differ for both job roles. For example, patient care technicians are required to be more empathetic towards their patients. Some other skills required to become a patient care technician are:

  • Patience
  • Strong observation
  • Compassion and empathy

Some skills needed to be a medical assistant are:

  • More focus on administrative duties
  • More attention to detail
  • Organization skills
  • Customer service

Read More:- Reasons To Choose A Medical Assistant Career

Job outlook and salary structure:

The overall job outlook of a patient care technician and a medical assistant differs from state to state.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and The average salary for a medical assistant ranges from $35,000 to $50,000 per year, whereas the salary for a patient care technician ranges between $40,000 to $45,000 a year. But this depends on the state you work in, the number of years of experience, your educational background, and the facilities you work at.

The job outlook for both roles are considered to be highly lucrative in the coming years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job roles of medical assistants are expected to grow by 19%, whereas those of PCTs to grow by 8%, respectively. This means that in the next decade, there is going to be a sharp incline in the requirement for both PCTs and medical assistants.

Key comparations amid medical assistants and patient care technicians

When looking into the role of becoming a medical assistant or patient care technician, there is a fine line that divides the two job roles. There are more similarities in the roles, which is why some people confuse the two:

Basic medical skills:

Bot medical assistants and PCTs are not required to perform complex procedures. They need to understand how to perform basic medical procedures such as measuring vitals and performing basic tests.

Growth of employment opportunities:

Another major similarity between these jobs is that both have a high growth level in the upcoming years. As per the BLS data, both are expected to see an 8%-10% growth in the next 10 years.

Conclusion on Medical Assistant vs. Patient Care Technician

The comparison listed above should help shed light on the differences between MA and PCTs especially when it comes to the job role, educational requirements, and duties to be performed. Both job titles help you to work with patients while playing a major role in the healthcare industry. Both PCTs and Ma’s need to interact with patients. It is because of this that they need to be compassionate and kind in this line of work. The bottom line is that if you consider working as a MA or PCT, then you are choosing to make a difference in the lives of patients.


1) What are the main differences between a medical assistant and a patient care technician?

The main areas of differences between a medical assistant and a patient care technician are:

  • PCTs need to help with activities such as eating, dressing, and bathing patients, whereas MA’s have to assist with patient exams
  • Patient care techs need to assist patients in moving around, whereas MAs need to schedule appointments
  • PCTs have to support patients during their treatment, whereas MAs need to record patient history and complete the forms for insurance performances

2) What are the required skills to become a medical assistant and a patient care technician?

Some skills required to become both medical assistants and PCTs are:

  • Hands-on training that programs provide
  • Physical strength and endurance
  • Proper technical skills
  • Soft skills that include communication

3) Which is the best career? Medical assistant or patient care technician?

Depending on the job role you prefer, each career has its own pros and cons. Becoming an MA or PCT requires compassion, kindness, and understanding. It also requires people to know basic medical procedures.

4) What is the career future of a medical assistant and a patient care technician?

The future prospects of both medical assistants and patient care technicians are growing, as per the BLS. In the next decade, there will be a sharp incline of 8-10% in both job roles. So, people who are joining or are a part of the industry will see a huge demand in the coming years.

5) Which is the most difficult job? Medical assistant or patient care technician?

Both MA and PCT job roles can be challenging, however the role of a patient care technician may be more physically demanding. PCTs need to help patients move around and maintain basic body functioning, like eating and going to the bathroom. Medical Assistants are required to do more documentation and paperwork related to insurance.

6) Is MA the same as PCT?

Not really. While medical assistants and Patient Care Technicians have job roles that overlap, there are several roles that are specific to each. For example, only MA’s have to document patient health and make reports. They are also required to fill in paperwork and deal with insurance problems. On the other hand, PCTs mostly have to help support the patient. They have to be there physically and emotionally for the patients and must help them in day-to-day activities such as bathing, eating, and walking.