How to Become an Emergency Room (ER) Technician

Research what it takes to become an emergency room technician (also known as ~'ER tech~'). Learn about education requirements, ER tech duties, average wages, ER tech certification and the job outlook of this profession. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Emergency Room Technician?

An emergency room technician is someone who has undergone emergency medical technician training, but works in an emergency room rather than on an ambulance in the field. As an emergency room technician, you will work under the direction of a registered nurse, providing care to emergency patients. Some of the duties you perform may include assessing patients, transporting patients and specimens between units, communicating with patients and their families, resuscitating patients as necessary, drawing blood and monitoring patients. With additional certifications, you may perform additional duties, such as inserting catheters and nasogastric tubes. Below are the requirements to becoming an ER tech.

Degree Required Postsecondary non-degree award
Key Responsibilities Assessing patients
Transporting patients and/or specimens
Perform basic procedures (draw blood, insert catheters, resuscitation)
Licensure/Certification Required Licensure required, specifications vary by state
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (for all EMTs and paramedics)*
Median Salary (2018) $34,320*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

ER Tech Vs EMT, and What Does an ER Tech Do?

Emergency room technicians are emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who provide patient care in hospital emergency rooms. They work with doctors and nurses, and provide some of the routine care involved in treating patients, such as drawing blood and making sure that emergency room equipment is prepared and ready. Inspecting and cleaning equipment is also part of their regular duties. Their job involves communicating patient care concerns to doctors and nurses, and they work as a critical part of the emergency room medical team. Emergency room technicians are usually certified, and may enter the profession as a first step towards further studies leading to an advanced medical career. Below are the specific steps on how t become an ER tech.

Step 1: Earn a Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers Card

Some EMT-Basic programs require that you earn a BLS for Healthcare Providers card as a prerequisite. The American Heart Association offers the BLS Healthcare Provider course. While enrolled in this 4.5-hour course, you will receive training in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), using an automated external defibrillator (AED) and relieving choking (www.americanheart.org).

Step 2: Complete an EMT-Basic Training Program

The minimum level of education required for emergency room technicians is the completion of an EMT-Basic program. While enrolled in an EMT-Basic program, you will learn to manage cardiac, respiratory and trauma emergencies. Emergency room technician training programs include classroom instruction in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and patient assessment. You'll also study emergency childbirth, bleeding control, spinal immobilization and shock management. You may also be required to gain experience working on an ambulance and in a hospital. Your program can take anywhere from three weeks to a full semester to complete.

Step 3: Earn a License

After completing your EMT-Basic program, you must earn a license. Although each state maintains its own licensure requirements, most require that you pass an examination administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Other states may administer their own licensure exams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require that you participate in continuing education to renew your license (www.bls.gov).

Step 4: Gain Experience as an EMT-Basic

Some employers require that you have experience working as an EMT-Basic before you may work in an emergency department as an emergency room technician. As an EMT-Basic, you will travel to the scenes of emergencies in an ambulance with a partner. You will assess and stabilize patients on the scene and then transport them to a hospital or other medical facility.

Step 5: Consider Additional Training and Certifications

Some employers require or prefer that you have certification in one or more specialized skills, such as arrhythmia recognition, catheter insertion or nasogastric tube insertion. You may also want to consider completing a paramedic program because doing so may allow you to advance your career as an emergency room technician. These programs, which can take up to two years to complete, provide training in patient assessment, critical care, pharmacology, pathophysiology and advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS). You will then need to complete your state's licensure requirements for paramedics.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

EMTs and paramedics provide emergency medical care and transport to those who are ill or injured. They usually work on site and travel by ambulance to the scene of accidents or location where a person has been injured or fallen ill. They do not need a degree, but are typically certified. Medical assistants may perform some tasks that are similar to the work that emergency room technicians do, but often work in a doctor's office, where they may perform routine tasks such as taking a patient's blood pressure reading or drawing blood for tests. Medical assistants need a certificate to enter their field. Emergency room nurses, who typically have a certificate or degree, also assist in providing medical care to those who require emergency treatment. They may assist with surgeries, perform tests or other procedures, and work closely with physicians to provide appropriate care to patients.

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