Critical Care Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
Get the truth about a critical care technician's salary, education, training and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of a critical care technician career.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Critical Care Technician

Critical care technicians arrive on the scene and help during medical emergencies. They fall in the category of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and perform many of the same duties as EMTs. Reading the pros and cons may help you decide if it's the right career for you.

Pros of Being a Critical Care Technician
Faster-than-average job growth (expected 24% growth between 2014 and 2024)*
Satisfaction of helping others*
May be responsible for saving lives*
Does not require years of formal training*

Cons of Being a Critical Care Technician
May be required to work nights or weekends*
Must pass licensure exam to work*
Work may be physically strenuous and stressful*
May be exposed to contagious diseases*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Info

Job Description and Duties

The main responsibility of a critical care technician is to provide high-quality out-of-hospital care to patients in emergency situations. Upon arriving at an accident scene or emergency situation, they assess the patient's condition and provide medical aid. They may encounter various situations, including heart attacks, choking, fractures, childbirth, respiratory disorders, automobile accidents and gunshot wounds. Their primary duty is to provide medical care and get patients to a medical facility where they can receive extended treatment. In addition to performing the role of an EMT, critical care technicians also work in medical facilities where they assist registered nurses.

Job Prospects and Salary

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not offer employment information specifically for critical care technicians, they did provide it for EMTs, who were predicted to see an employment growth of 24% from 2014-2024. Contributing to this faster-than-average growth is an increase in the number of natural disasters, car accidents and violence. As the elderly population grows, so does the incidence of age-related health emergencies, which also puts these workers in demand.

As of May 2014, EMTs and paramedics earned a mean annual wage of around $35,000, per the BLS. reported that critical care technicians in the 10th to 90th percentile earned wages ranging from $19,000 to $40,000 as of January 2016. Wages may vary by location and experience.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Training Requirements

To be a critical care technician, you must have a high school diploma and complete a formal training program. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification is also required. Aspiring critical care technicians can choose from three levels of training. These levels include EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate or Paramedic. However, to become a critical care technician, you must complete the EMT-Basic training program, although this may vary by employer. According to the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, the curriculum for a critical care technician is equivalent to the curriculum for the EMT-Intermediate program.

A formal training program will combine classroom work with clinical instruction and an internship. Course topics may include hemorrhage and shock, burns, clinical decision-making, respiratory emergencies, neonatal and obstetrics, emergency pharmacology and medication administration. EMTs must be certified and licensed through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). To obtain licensure, candidates must pass an NREMT certification exam and apply for licensure. Applicants may also be required to show proof of current immunizations and submit to criminal background checks.

Top Skills for Critical Care Technicians

To be successful as a critical care technician, an individual must possess certain qualities and skills, in addition to having the required training. Some of the skills and qualities may include:

  • Compassion
  • Interest in helping others
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Physical strength
  • Ability to work under stress

Job Postings for Real Employers

Once you start looking for a position as a critical care technician, you may find that education and training requirements vary by employer. Here are a few job postings for critical care technicians or EMTs that are open as of May 2012 to give you an idea of what to expect:

  • A Texas health care provider is looking for an experienced critical care technician to assist registered nurses in providing patient care. In addition to having a high school diploma, applicants must have at least one year of experience working in a hospital as nursing attendants or military corpsmen. Alternatively, the candidate can be a graduate of an accredited nursing program preparing to take the nurse licensing exam. Applicants must also be American Heart Association and Basic Cardiac Life Support certified.
  • An Indiana health care provider is seeking an experienced emergency medical technician (EMT) or emergency care assistant to work in their medical facility. The candidate will collaborate and work with a registered nurse to provide patient care. They will also respond to patients' needs and provide accurate documentation on patient records. Applicants must have a high school diploma, computer experience, knowledge of medical terminology, appropriate state certifications and at least one year of experience working in hospital settings.
  • An emergency care technician is needed to work in a Los Angeles hospital. The applicant must have a high school diploma and three to six months of experience/training. Candidates will assist registered nurses in providing patient care and performing related duties, such as taking and monitoring vital signs, performing EKGs, helping transport patients and providing basic patient care. The technician will also communicate with patients and family members regarding basic care.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Continuing education is not only vital for EMTs and critical care technicians, but may also be required in your community. Although the critical care technician program may only require completion of the EMT-Basic or EMT-Intermediate training, you can advance your studies and pursue a career as a paramedic. You may also want to take additional training to enable you to drive an ambulance.

Other Careers to Consider

Although being a critical care technician may be rewarding, you may find that you don't like the stress of providing pre-hospital care. Whatever the case may be, there are other careers you may wish to consider in the health care field.

Licensed Practical Nurse

A career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) allows you to work in a medical setting where you can help sick and injured patients. To become an LPN, you need to complete a 1-year training program and obtain licensure. LPNs were predicted to see an employment growth of 22% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS. The BLS also stated LPNs earned around $42,000 as of May 2011. As an LPN, you can work in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics or any other type of medical facility.

Medical Assistant

As of May 2011, medical assistants earned a mean annual wage of around $30,000, according to the BLS. Although these wages are less than EMTs, the BLS reported that medical assistants could see a 31% employment growth from 2010-2020. As a medical assistant, you may perform both clinical and administrative duties. You may become a medical assistant with a high school diploma and on-the-job training; however, some medical facilities will require that you complete a certificate or associate's degree program.