How to Become an ER Technician: Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary
EMT certification is an excellent first step towards a fulfilling career in emergency medicine. Many EMT-certified professionals will choose to work as medical first responders throughout their entire career. Some may continue their EMS training to grow in their field and get promoted, or to become paramedics.
However, EMT certification can lead to several great career opportunities outside of ambulance services. This career guide will explore one particular career option for which EMT training & certification can be tremendously useful—Emergency Room Technician.
(See our full list of alternative jobs for EMTs and paramedics)
EMTs and emergency room technicians have similar job requirements and responsibilities. The primary difference between them, however, is where they work and the frequency by which they treat patients.
While an EMT works from an ambulance and can have gaps between emergency calls, an ER technician works in a hospital emergency room where they might have to manage a constant flow of sick or injured patients.
It’s a natural next step for an EMT to become an emergency room technician, especially if you’re looking for greater challenges and more responsibility.
Emergency Room Technician Duties & Responsibilities
What Does an Emergency Room Technician Do?
The primary job of an emergency room technician is to actively support the medical team within an emergency room of a hospital.
Common responsibilities for surgical techs include:
- Monitoring blood pressure, pulse, and temperature of patients
- Collecting blood, stool, urine, and other samples from patients
- Fitting patients for crutches and casts
- Handing doctors and nurses medical supplies during procedures
- Transporting patients
- Dressing wounds
- Beginning IV lines
- Communicating with patients and their families
- Taking a patient’s medical history and information
- Assisting patients during hospital discharge
What Is a Typical Day For an Emergency Room Technician?
Emergency Room Technicians (like nurses) spend most of the day on their feet. Your shift begins with punching in, storing your belongings in a hospital locker, and putting on scrubs. Then you’re off and running. Your job is to assist your medical team as much possible. Because you’ll work so closely with a medical team of doctors and nurses, much of the planning and decision making is out of your hands.
Like EMTs and surgical technicians, there’s really no “typical day” for emergency room technicians. The day will depend entirely on which cases walk, limp, or roll into the emergency room that day. During flu season, much of your workload may be helping run tests and treating severe cold symptoms. During football season, you may see a steady stream of athletic injuries (sprains, broken bones, concussions). The role of an ER tech is anything but monotonous.
However, some elements of the job can be predictable. For example, with every new patient that enters the emergency room, you may be tasked with checking their vitals, measuring their height and weight, and directing them to an examination room. Following the emergency care, you’ll assist patients with their discharge, walk them through any final instructions, and help send them on their way. For more serious cases, you may be asked to transport patients to other areas of the hospital for longer stays.
Emergency Room Technician Hours
Like EMTs and paramedics, ER techs are needed 24/7, so work shifts can include mornings, evenings, late nights, weekends, or holidays. Shifts may also last longer than 8 hours in some cases, depending on how your hospital, medical center, or dental office is organized. You’ll also be on your feet for most of the shift.
Emergency Room Technician Requirements
How to Become an Emergency Room Technician
If you have your EMT certification, the great news is you’re practically an ER Tech already!
For certified EMTs, additional certification is not required to become an emergency room technician. While requirements can vary by location, most hospitals require a high school diploma, CPR certification, defibrillator certification, and preference is given to candidates with emergency medical training.
As an EMT, you’ve already checked off every one of these requirements. Your next step to becoming an ER tech would be to simply apply for the job.
(Click here if you aren’t yet an EMT but and are interested in training for EMT certification.)
A Career as an ER Technician Might Be A Good Fit If You…
- Enjoy a fast-paced work environment
- Have good bedside manner
- Can think and problem-solve on your feet
- Can physically lift patients during transportation
- Prefer a hospital environment to an ambulance
- Can take direct orders from doctors and nurses
- Are organized, hard-working, and self-motivated
If this sounds like you, then a job as an emergency room technician may be worth exploring.
Emergency Room Technician Education
What Training Is Required to Become an Emergency Room Technician?
In order to become an emergency room technician, you’ll first need to be trained in basic emergency medicine techniques, specifically administering CPR, operating a defibrillator, and saving a person from choking.
Once you begin your career as an emergency room tech, you may be trained in other techniques such as:
- Starting an IV line
- Applying and removing casts for broken bones
- Fitting patients for crutches, and
- Collecting samples of blood, urine, and stool
One or two of these techniques might be new for someone with an EMT certification, but those with paramedic certification should already be familiar with most of these tasks.
(Click here to learn more about how to become a paramedic).
Emergency Room Technician Programs
While ER tech certification isn’t a state requirement, some hospitals may require one. If this applies to you, you can enroll in any available ER technician program near you.
During the program, you’ll study the follow ER technician:
- Emergency medicine basics
- Emergency childbirth
- Phlebotomy (blood drawing)
- Administering diagnostic tests
- Reading electrocardiogram (EKG) results
- Starting an IV line
- Patient transportation techniques
- Crutch and cast fitting
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Patient assessment
- Trauma management
How Long Does It Take to Be an Emergency Room Technician?
If you already hold an EMT or paramedic certification, you may already meet the requirements to be hired as an emergency room technician. If you’re just beginning your career in emergency medicine and don’t hold a certification, you can complete your training for EMT certification in as little as two weeks.
If you choose to earn your emergency room technician certification as well, this can take up to six additional months but may increase your chances of being hired.
Emergency Room Technician Certification
Unlike the EMT certification, there is no national or state certification exam for emergency room technicians. However, because many do require emergency medicine licensure and experience, you may be asked to complete the NREMT certification exam.
(Click here to learn how to pass the NREMT certification exam).
The optional emergency room technician certificates can be earned through an accredited emergency medicine program.
Emergency Room Technician Required Skills
Besides the educational and certification requirements, emergency room technicians should exhibit the following skills to achieve success:
- Communication – ER techs work under a team of doctors and nurses and must be able to communicate clearly and concisely with them to avoid mistakes and to provide the best possible care.
- Organization – Your doctor or nurse will have a specific plan of action for each patient and you, as the ER technician, will need strong organizational skills to follow that plan to the letter.
- Teamwork – EMTs in the field are able to make many decisions independently. In a hospital setting, however, ER techs should expect more direction and less autonomy when treating and administering patients.
- Multitasking – You may be responsible for multiple patients at a time. ER technicians must be able follow multiple patient-care plans and provide the appropriate level of care to each patient.
- Triage – Emergency room technicians must excel at triaging patients as they arrive—prioritizing critical cases over less critical cases while still assisting all patients.
From EMT to Emergency Room Technician
How Will My EMT Experience Help Me Become an Emergency Room Technician?
EMT and Paramedic experience is a natural first step for any aspiring emergency room technician. Here’s why:
- Shift Experience – EMTs and ER techs work similar shifts, including weekends, nights, and holidays.
- Proof of Performance – As an EMT or paramedic, you can demonstrate to future employers your ability to administer emergency medicine in real world scenarios.
- Patient Care – As an EMT, you already possess patient care experience. By having worked directly with patients, you’ll be a step ahead of other candidates whose experience may be limited to textbook knowledge or training simulations.
- Communication – EMTs already know the language and “shorthand” that doctors and nurses use in emergency situations.
- Strong Stomach – EMTs and ER technicians face similar patient emergencies on a daily basis. If you can treat wounds, injuries, and illnesses as an EMT, you’ll be able to do the same as an emergency room technician.
Emergency Room Technician Salary
How Much Does an Emergency Room Technician Make?
According to the job hunting site ZipRecruiter, the current average salary for an Emergency Room Technician is $59,000 a year, but this number can vary greatly depending on location and experience. Typical annual salaries range from $38,000 (25th percentile) to $77,000 (75th percentile).
Pay for ER Techs is so similar to that of EMTs, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics groups these two professions together. In other words, if an EMT makes a high average salary in a city, chances are an ER Tech will make a similar amount.
Highest Paying States for Emergency Room Technicians
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(according to salary data published on ZipRecruiter.com)
Beginning Your Career as an Emergency Room Technician
Becoming an emergency room technician is a logical next-step for many EMTs and paramedics. Being an ER technician can lead to greater advancements—such as a career in nursing or even medical school.
Emergency medical services are an excellent way to test the waters before fully committing to a career in healthcare. Jobs for both ER Techs and EMTs are in high demand, and employers are constantly looking for hard-working, smart, and dedicated employees for their teams. All you have to do is take the first step forward.