How to Become an ER Technician: Duties, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary
Gaining experience as a certified EMT is an excellent way to begin what could be a fulfilling career in emergency medicine. Many EMT-certified professionals will enjoy the work and the challenges it brings so much that they opt to work as first responders throughout their careers. Some may choose to further their EMS training to grow within their field and get promoted or to become full paramedics.
However, EMT certification is also a great pathway toward numerous other great career opportunities outside of ambulance services. This career guide will explore one such option for which EMT training & certification can be tremendously helpful—the Emergency Room Technician. But for a complete list of EMT career opportunities, See our full list of alternative jobs for EMTs and paramedics.
Of course, EMTs and emergency room technicians have similar job requirements and responsibilities—with notable differences. The primary difference between them, however, is the location of their work and the frequency at which they need to be prepared to treat patients.
While an EMT works from an ambulance and can have sizeable gaps between emergency calls, an ER technician works in a hospital emergency room where they could be called on to manage a steady flow of sick or injured patients.
As much as any of the other career opportunities, it’s seen as a natural next step for EMTs to go on to become emergency room technicians, especially for those looking for greater challenges and responsibility.
Emergency Room Technician Duties & Responsibilities
What Does an Emergency Room Technician Do?
The primary job of an emergency room technician is, of course, to actively support the medical team within the emergency room of a hospital.
Common responsibilities for emergency room 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 families
- Taking a patient’s medical history and information
- Assisting patients during hospital discharge
What’s a Typical Day For an Emergency Room Technician?
Emergency Room Technicians spend most of their day on their feet. Shifts begin by punching in, storing belongings in a hospital locker, and putting on scrubs. And from there, you’re off and running. Your job is to assist your medical team as much and as seamlessly as possible. Because you’ll work so closely with a team of doctors and nurses, much of the responsibility of planning and decision-making is out of your hands.
Similar to EMTs and surgical technologists, there’s really no “typical day” for emergency room technicians. The workload depends entirely on what cases walk, limp, or roll into the emergency room on any given day. During flu season, for example, much of the workload may entail helping to run tests and treating severe cold symptoms. During, say, football season, you may see a stream of athletic injuries (sprains, broken bones, concussions). The role of an ER tech is unpredictable and anything but monotonous.
However, there are elements of the job that can be predicted. For example, with every new patient that enters the emergency room, you may be tasked with the routine of checking their vitals, measuring their height and weight, and directing them to an examination room. Following emergency care, you’ll assist patients with hospital 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 in need 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. One thing’s for certain; you’ll 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 fully qualified to become an ER Tech already!
For certified EMTs, an 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, and defibrillator certification. Preference is almost always given to candidates with emergency medical training.
As an EMT, you’ve already checked off every one of these requirements. Your next step to moving on and becoming an ER tech would be to simply apply for the job.
(If you aren’t yet an EMT but are interested in training to be an ER tech, click here.)
A Career as an ER Technician Might Be A Good Fit If You …
- Enjoy a fast-paced work environment
- Have a good bedside manner
- Can think and problem-solve on their 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 a good fit.
Emergency Room Technician Education
What Training Is Required to Become an Emergency Room Technician?
To work as an emergency room technician, you’ll need to be proficient in all the skills you gained in your EMT training, including 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 get the opportunity to learn other techniques as well, including:
- Starting an IV line
- Applying and removing casts for broken bones
- Fitting patients for crutches, and
- Collecting samples of blood, urine, and stool
Some of these techniques might be new for an EMT, but individuals with paramedic certification should already be familiar with most of them.
(Click here to view our career guide for aspiring paramedics).
Emergency Room Technician Programs
While ER Tech Certification is not required by the state, some hospitals may require it. If this applies to you, you can enroll in any available ER technician program near you.
During the ER Tech Certification program, you’ll study:
- 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 Become an Emergency Room Technician?
If you already hold an EMT or paramedic certification, you probably already meet the requirements for being 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 in as little as two weeks.
If you choose to go on and earn your Emergency Room Technician Certification as well, this can take up to six additional months, but many find it to be well worth it as it can increase the 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 medical facilities do require emergency medicine licensure and experience, you may need to complete the NREMT certification exam.
(Click here to learn how to pass the NREMT certification exam).
The optional emergency room technician certifications can be earned through an accredited emergency medicine program near you.
Emergency Room Technician Required Skills
Besides the educational and certification requirements, successful emergency room technicians typically exhibit the following skills:
- Communication – ER techs work under a team of doctors and nurses. They must be able to communicate clearly and concisely with them to avoid mistakes and provide the best possible care.
- Organization – Your leading doctor or nurse will have a specific action plan for each patient, and you, as the ER tech, will need strong organizational skills to follow that plan to the letter.
- Teamwork – EMTs in the field can 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 will often be responsible for multiple patients at a time. ER technicians must 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 doing their best to assist 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 and common first step for any aspiring emergency room technician. Here’s why:
- Shift Experience – EMTs and ER techs work similar shifts, which include weekends, nights, and holidays.
- Proof of Performance – As an EMT or paramedic, you can demonstrate to future employers your ability to administer emergency medicine under pressure in real-world scenarios.
- Patient Care – As a working EMT, you already possess patient care experience. This already puts you a step ahead of other candidates whose experience may be limited to textbook knowledge or training simulations.
- Communication – EMTs are already proficient in the language and “shorthand” that doctors and nurses use in emergency situations.
- Strong Stomach – EMTs and ER technicians face similar patient emergencies daily. If you can treat wounds, injuries, and illnesses as an EMT, you’ll have the strength to do the same as an emergency room technician.
Emergency Room Technician Salary
How Much Does an Emergency Room Technician Make?
According to ZipRecruiter, the current average salary* for an Emergency Room Technician is $63,507 a year, but this number can vary greatly depending on location and experience. Typical annual salaries range from $39,000 (25th percentile) to $81,500 (75th percentile).
Pay for ER Techs is so similar to that of EMTs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics groups these two professions together. In other words, if an EMT makes a high average salary* in a particular city, chances are an ER Tech will make a similar amount.
Highest Paying States for Emergency Room Technicians
|State||Average Hourly Pay||Average Salary|
(according to salary* data published on ZipRecruiter.com)
Beginning Your Career as an Emergency Room Technician
As discussed, becoming an emergency room technician is a logical and popular next step for many EMTs and paramedics. Being an ER technician can itself lead to even greater advancements—such as careers in nursing or even medical school, from which a whole new world of possibilities opens up.
Emergency medical services are an excellent way to test your mettle before fully committing to a career in healthcare. For some, this taste is all they need, but for those with the right stuff, it’s a great way to start. Jobs for both ER Techs and EMTs are almost always in high demand, and employers are constantly looking for hard-working, smart, and dedicated employees for their teams. It’s up to you to take the first step forward.