How to Become an Emergency Room Technician

August 23, 2023


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 5/13/22

If you have an interest in working in the ER, becoming an emergency room technician may be the right choice for you! In this article, we’ll outline exactly how to become an emergency room technician. 

Those who have an interest in medical care and thrive in fast-paced environments may be interested in exploring a career as an emergency room technician. 

Amidst the high-energy, quick-paced, and often frenzied environment of the ER, emergency room techs are the backbone of patient care and problem-solving. Becoming an ER technician is a great option for those who want to get into the medical field but don’t want to commit to the finance and time commitments of med school. 

Being an ER technician is demanding and not for the faint of heart. However, if working under pressure and providing direct care to patients in emergency situations sounds exciting, you’re in the right place! 

Continue reading as we explain how to become an emergency room technician, what ER techs make, and answer some of your burning questions. Let’s get started!

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What Do ER Technicians Do?

Emergency room technicians work in emergency hospital rooms under the direction of your RN. As an emergency room technician, you will work closely with doctors and nurses to provide the best emergency care to patients that come into the hospital. 

Some general duties and responsibilities of an ER technician include:

  • Assessing patients when they arrive in the emergency room 
  • Monitoring patients’ vitals and temperature 
  • Transporting patients 
  • Providing medical equipment to patients when necessary, such as crutches 
  • Providing wound care, such as stitches 
  • Setting up IVs and draw blood 
  • Communicating with patients’ families 

As an ER tech, you will also be expected to complete some administrative tasks, including: 

  • Completing and file proper paperwork
  • Answering phone calls 
  • Helping patients with the discharge process 
  • Making sure office and medical supplies are stocked
  • Keeping areas clean and organized 
  • Updating patients’ medical records 

These are some of the expected tasks you will be responsible for as an ER technician. However, emergency rooms are full of surprises. Be prepared to think on your feet and solve problems quickly. Expect the unexpected!

How to Become An ER Tech

The good news is, becoming an emergency room technician is fairly straightforward. Here are the steps on how to become an emergency room technician. 

1. Get Your High School Diploma 

Firstly, you need to get your high school diploma or the equivalent to begin the certification process. Some hospitals ask for an associate’s degree, but for the most part, completing a certificate is sufficient enough. Always check with hospitals of interest to see what they require. 

While there is no ER tech specific program offered in highschool, there are some courses you can take to best prepare you with the skills needed to work in the emergency room. Highschool classes you can take include:

  • Anatomy 
  • Biology 
  • Math
  • English and/or Communications 

All of these courses are valuable to those who want to work in the health care sector. They each provide various skills that you will need to be successful in the emergency room, from a basic understanding of the human body to writing and communicating effectively and clearly. 

There are other steps you can take while in high school to start preparing for your career as an ER tech too, such as: 

  • Driver’s Education in case you need to/want to transfer to be a paramedic
  • Getting involved in sports or athletics to keep up physical health and endurance, and demonstrate a commitment to a team
  • CPR training to prepare for your BLS certificate and give you foundational knowledge of lifesaving tactics 

While these steps are not necessary to becoming a ER tech, they will definitely give you a head start on your future training and career. 

2. Earn Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Workers

BLS is usually a prerequisite for most EMT programs. The course covers topics including performing proper CPR, the chain of survival, using AED, caring for wounds, and saving someone who has their airway compromised (choking). 

The BLS is usually about four hours and is a CPR-focused course. Once completed, you will be given a card that is valid for either one or two years. After your card expires, you will have to renew your certificate by retaking the course.    

3. Complete EMT Training 

All aspiring ER technicians must successfully finish emergency room technician (EMT) training. The EMT training program teaches healthcare workers how to manage trauma, medical emergencies, first aid, emergency childbirth, shock management, bleeding control, and terminology you will need to know. 

The training provides you with the basic skills and knowledge needed to be an ER technician. Training can take anywhere from three weeks to eight months to complete, depending on the class schedule.  

4. Become Licensed 

Each state follows its own licensing procedures, but most require you to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam. 

Once you successfully pass your state’s licensing requirements, you will be a certified ER tech and can begin applying to jobs.

Emergency Room Technician Salary

The US Bureau of Labor states that the median salary for an emergency room technician is $38,830

Hawaii has one of the highest average salaries for ER technicians at $56,610. Washington also has competitive wages for this position, with the state’s average annual salary being $56,140.

FAQs: How to Become An Emergency Room Technician

If you still have questions about how to become an ER tech, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading as we answer some frequently asked questions below. 

1. Is Being an ER Tech Good for Med School?

While being an ER tech is not a requirement for med school, it can help your application stand out. Having experience as an ER tech is one of the best jobs for aspiring premed students. The most helpful thing about being an ER tech is that you will have healthcare experience, which may be attractive to admissions committees for colleges. 

However, being an ER tech does not automatically grant you admission into med school. Your GPA, extracurricular activities, and clinical experience are key factors for med school admissions

With this being said, there are hobbies that you can take on that will impress med school admissions teams and make your application stand out

2. How Much Do ER Techs Make in NYC?

Emergency room techs in the state of New York make an average of $44,920 annually. The average salary for the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area is slightly higher, at $45,420. ER techs in New York City have a considerably higher median wage than the national average, which is $38,830. 

3. Do ER Techs Do Stitches?

Yes, ER techs do administer stitches. A big part of the job is wound care, which, more often than not, means you will be dressing wounds and giving stitches. 

ER techs work a lot with needles, including setting up IVs for patients and taking blood samples. If you are uncomfortable with administering needles, an ER tech may not be the best path for you! 

4. What Is the Difference Between ER Techs and ER Nurses?

Overall, ER techs and ER nurses do similar tasks and work very closely with each other. The main difference between the two is that ER nurses are the ones who make decisions on what method of care is best for the patient. The ER tech then provides the care that the ER nurse decides on. 

ER nurses also have to complete an associates degree or nursing degree, whereas ER techs don’t need to. Because of the additional education experience, ER nurses have more authority than ER techs.

Final Thoughts

Being an ER tech is a great start to a career in medicine, and can be a stepping stone into becoming a paramedic, firefighter, RN, or even a doctor. 

With fairly short and low-cost training programs, as well as the opportunity for growth within the medical field, becoming an ER technician is definitely an enticing path to pursue. 

Best of luck in your future endeavours!

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