How to Become a Psychiatric Technician: Degree, Careeer, Salary and Outlook

What are the duties of Psychiatric Technicians and Psychiatric Aides

Doctor_on_Duty-512Being a psychiatric technician and psychiatric aide calls for caring for people who are afflicted with developmental disabilities and mental illness. The psychiatric technicians usually offer therapeutic care and observe the conditions of their patients without let-up. On the other end, the psychiatric aides assist patients in their everyday routines and guarantee them of dirt-free surroundings.

The job positions of the psychiatric technician and psychiatric aide are truly rewarding ones especially for individuals who are inclined to field of psychology and take delight in aiding and caring for other people. The jobs also require ability to steer clear from complicated situations by pouncing on conflict-resolution.

Psychiatric technicians and psychiatric aides team up with a medical team to assist patients who are experiencing developmental disabilities and mental/emotional conditions. The two occupations share a lot of similarities and almost the same, although, technicians are trained to compel their patients to improve their skills and provide recreational and therapeutic care. On the other hand, the aides assist patients in their daily activities and make certain that their patients are safe and confined in a healthy and clean environment.

Both professions collaborate with a medical team of mental health practitioners and since they get in touch with their patients, they have a delicate role of sustaining the overall outlook and health of their patients.

While at work a psychiatric technician can be seen aiding patients with their day-to-day living activities, monitoring, listening and recording behavior of their patients, provide medication and carrying out important directions provided by doctors and host of other healthcare practitioners.

Psychiatric technicians are responsible for the admission and discharging of patients, physically pacify patients who may pose harm to themselves or other people, and provide therapeutic and recreational activities.

Psychiatric aides perform a lot of tasks that are reminiscent of the psychiatric technicians counterpart even though they are responsible for conducting duties such as cleaning bed linens and bevy of other equipment, move around patients from one place to another in the hospital or residential care center and usually conduct more maintenance to guarantee a secure and clean environs.

The Psychiatric technician and psychiatric aide job titles include the following: Mental Health Assistant, Mental Health Worker, Mental Health Associate, Mental Health Technician, Health Care Technician, Licensed Psychiatric Technician, Behavioral Health Technician, Patient Care Specialist and Support Team Member.

More Tasks Performed by Psychiatric Technician

Patient-Forms-Icon-Blue-01Psychiatric Technician organize, administer and compel patients to partake in educational and recreational activities. A psychiatric technician must come up with observations and record patient intervention, behavior and improvements. They also aid patients with their day-to-day therapeutic and hygiene as directed by medical and nursing staff.

Under the direction of a physician, a psychiatric technician should contain or assist patients when needed to avoid injury or harming other people.

It is of essence that a psychiatric technician must have tons of patience and strong will to avoid wilting under pressure.

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Essential Tips on How to Become a Psychiatric Technician 

Tips-tricks-iconFind out how to become a psychiatric technician. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in mental health.

This write-up contains important information on how to become a psychiatric technician from education to training to experience needed in order to catapult your career in the mental health niche.

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Do you really want become a Psychiatric Technician?

Keep in mind that being a psychiatric technician can be a daunting task, as the profession calls for hands-on care for people that are afflicted with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses. The job would entail administering medications, performing recreational and therapeutic activities, and observing the vital signs of a patient. Even though the titles “psychiatric aide” and “psychiatric technician” have a lot of similarities, the two professions have differences. A psychiatric aide usually assists patients conduct daily activities and guarantees that the environment is clean and secure, whilst a psychiatric technician hands out therapeutic care.

A lot of psychiatric technicians and aides work in hospitals, even though positions are offered in long-term care centers and host of other medical care providers. A number of risk is linked to this professions, as technicians and aides who look after patients that may eventually become emotionally distressed and physically hostile. Compared with other careers in medical care industry, a number of contact to contagious illnesses is more likely. Both the technicians and aides may opt for working part-time to full-time, during evening, night, and weekend shifts if hired by 24-hour care centers.

In order to become a psychiatric technician one must obtain a certificate or associate degree in the field of psychiatric or mental health technology. Remember that there are licensure examination that is required in some states in the United States and an optional certification is available.

Experience is not needed but a number of employers may opt for candidates that have previous experience.

The key skills needed by technicians include excellent interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to stay calm and patient when dealing with patients and capable of lifting and moving patients and heavy objects. The technicians must also have empathy and compassion and certified in carrying out CPR. The average annual salary of technician is $31,130 according to the figure released by US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here is a step-by-step process on how to become psychiatric technician

Step 1: Complete a Certificate Program

certificationA postsecondary certificate in psychiatric technology and mental health is required in order for you to get employed in this career path. Community colleges and technical schools provide these programs and usually necessitate students to hurdle courses in biology, psychology, pharmacology, and counseling. These courses are especially created to enable learn about the basic principles of psychiatric care and the symptoms and interventions required for an assortment of psychiatric disorders. A number of programs give students with the chance to partake in internships or host of other supervised clinical experiences, which enable them to work with professionals in the field and help them acquire necessary skills to propel their career in the near future.

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Essential tip to success:

badge2 2As much as possible, do your best to obtain work experience while you are still studying. Since a lot of employers opt for applicants that have previous experience, a would-be psychiatric technician should pounce on internships or fieldwork experiences provided via certificate program. There are usually plenty of volunteer or paid positions in an assortment of mental health settings that will enable students to acquaint themselves with psychiatric technician’s job roles and at the same obtaining the much-needed work experience.

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Step 2: Strive to Become a Accredited Psychiatric Technician

accreditation-iconThe United States Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that Arkansas, California, Colorado and Kansas need licensed psychiatric technicians. This usually requires aspirant to graduate from an accredited program, hurdling licensure examination and paying the necessary licensing fees. In states where licensure examination is not needed, psychiatric technicians might opt for pursuing voluntary certification via the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians. Aspirants who are seeking certification must finish and hurdle a multiple-choice exam.

Step 3: Finish On-The-Job Training

A lot of employers need psychiatric technicians to hurdle on-the-job training in order for them to earn the right to work on their own. The amount of time they spent in training can range between a few weeks and several months. Psychiatric technicians usually partake in a wide range of training exercises during this period, such as participating in lectures, workshops and/or in-service training and obtaining hands-on trainings from seasoned professionals.

Step 4:  Consider Career Advancement in the Field

Psychiatric technicians who gained ample enough of experience can have the opportunity to obtain a higher rank, like a supervisory position. Technicians who displayed their immense fashion in the field of psychiatry and who yearns to improve from providing therapeutic care may choose to obtain a medical degree in psychiatry or the like.

The process may call for an aspirant to spend many years of different schooling levels (beginning with with a bachelor’s degree), but many undergraduate programs will usually accept courses obtained from a technical school or community college as credit in taking a degree.

The important attributes you need in order to become a successful psychiatric technician:

Empathy – Since you are in close contact with patients, it is a must that you should be good listener and at the same time well adept on how to sympathize with them.

Patience – Since you are working with people who are crippled by emotional and mental problems, you must have tons of patience in carrying out your difficult tasks like recording relentlessly your patient’s vital signs and changes in health.

Flair For Creativity – You must be good at squeezing out your creative juices in coming up with worthwhile games and activities to keep your patient in good mood and not bored.

Always be prepared – You are dealing with distressed folks and it is a must that you are vigilant at all times. Your patients are capable of turning into fierce lions at a wink of an eye. You must always ready to pacify a beleaguered patient fast so as to avoid the patient to hurt himself, you and/or other people.

You must be healthy, physically fit and in top shape – Aside from taming patients when they suddenly turn into beasts, you are bound to carry them and heavy equipment from one place to another. These implies that psychiatric jobs are not intended for people who are physically weak.

Psychiatric technician’s typical work environment

A psychiatric technician usually works at a hospital or nursing home to guarantee the safety and care of the patients that are afflicted by mental illnesses or emotional problems. The technician plays second fiddle to psychiatrists and nurses in a typical workplace. The technician will be directed with wide range of tasks and delegated to carry out treatments to patients through group and individual activities.

When various activities are performed, the technician will compel patients to join and boost their self-confidence. The technician monitor patients personally and via CCTV. When changes in behavior of a patient are spotted, the technician attempts to come up with a solution to contain the patient. It is of essence that the technician knows when is the perfect time to refer a patient to a doctor or a nurse.

The technician must see to it that his patient is eating right amount of meals and administered with the prescribed medications and monitors and records periodically the patient’s height, weight and vital signs.

The technician must know how to perform housekeeping roles as well and see to it that the environment is safe and clean. The technician must be physically fit since part of his job is to move a patient from one place to another. The technician must be capable in carrying out administrative tasks that include filing, record keeping and coming up with reports.

A high school diploma is usually needed for this job, even though a number of positions need a bachelor’s degree. Certifications in CPR may prove to be useful for a psychiatric technician as well as experience in the field. Both part-time and full-time positions are available, and hours may differ since many medical institutions operate 24 hours a day, seven times a week.

Work environment for psychiatric aides

Psychiatric aides, which are referred to as mental health assistants or psychiatric nursing assistants, provide care for folks who are afflicted by mental and health problems. They are part of a medical team that is comprised of psychologists, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurses, social workers, and therapists. Aside from assisting patients to dress, taking a bathe, grooming themselves, and eating, aides should be adept at building rapport with patients and encouraging them to partake in recreational, educational and worthwhile activities. Aides may resort to playing an assortment of games with patients, viewing TV shows with them, or taking part in group activities, like engaging in sports or joining in field trips. Aides monitor their patients and report any physical or behavioral indicators that might be vital for the professional staff to discern. Aides accompany their patients undergo therapy and treatment. Since they have strong bond with their patients, psychiatric aides can play a potent role on their patient’s treatment and outlook.

Psychiatric Technician Job Outlook

Career Summary

ResearchAndInsights-icon-archive_WorkforceTrendsThe job of a psychiatric technician entails providing care for patients who are afflicted by emotional problems, mental illnesses or developmental challenges. The technicians usually work under the supervision of psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, nurses, social workers and among other medical staff. The technicians pounce on patient treatment plans created by psychiatrists and counsel patients during therapy sessions. The other roles of technicians include: assessing and observing patients who are taking medication; keeping medical records and reporting problems with medicines or changes in patients’ health and vital signs. Psychiatric technicians also aid patients with hygiene and carry out hypodermic injections.

Job Outlook

Psychiatric Technician usually leads to a more rewarding professions such as Registered Nurse positions, for which salary and perks are inclined to be better. Keep in mind that, Registered Nurses earn decent income of $55,000 annually. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker happens to be the most widespread role that Psychiatric Technicians aspire for in their career. The position’s average annual salary is $51,000. Psychiatric Technicians tend to move into Mental Health Technician role where the average yearly income for this position is $26,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that, there were 66,760 employed psychiatric technicians in the country as of May 2013, and they posted a median salary of $29,880 (www.bls.gov). During this time, 24,300 of these technicians were hired in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals. Job hiring for psychiatric technicians was forecasted to increase slower than the average from 2012 up to 2022.

A Quick Glance at Psychiatric Technician Job

Icon_Hive_Learning_Networks_at_a_GlancePsychiatric technician works with patients who are mentally disturbed and emotionally agitated and conduct wide range of delegated tasks. The information below provides you an overview of the requirements needed to pursue a career on this field:

  • The degree required in order to become a psychiatric technician is a postsecondary certificate.
  • The education field of study is either psychiatric or mental health technology.
  • The main responsibilities of psychiatric technicians is to carry out necessary medication and treatments, assist patients on their every day and therapeutic activities and monitor he vital signs of their patients and report changes.
  • There are four states in the U.S. that need licensure. Professional certification is offered.
  • The job growth from 2012 up to 2022 is projected to post a 4% increase.
  • In 2013, the median salary of psychiatric technicians is $29,800 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Psychiatric Technician?

educationIconThe educational attainments needed to become a psychiatric technicians differ from one state to another. You may be needed to finish a certificate program, which can take between 12 and 18 months. Such programs may have courses in psychology, nursing and anatomy.

One could opt for enrolling in a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program so as to increase further professional know-how and skills. A lot of degree and certificated programs integrate classroom learning with delegated clinical experience. According to a report furnished by O*Net OnLine in 2019, 36 percent of psychiatric technicians have bachelor’s degrees, while 34 % have high school diplomas and GEDs (www.onetonline.org).

How to Gain Psychiatric Technician Certification and Certificate Program?

In a common work environment, psychiatric technicians work under the delegation of psychiatrists and mental health and registered nurses to come up with direct patient care to people who are mentally or emotionally disturbed. Certification programs are usually offered via health science departments of community colleges and technical schools.

Important Info

Keep in mind that a Psychiatric Technology Certificate program is among a few undergraduate options that offered to those who yearns to pursue psychiatric technician profession. Concentrating on behavioral science and a wide array of counseling methods, the programs normally take about one year to one and a half year to finish.

Even though a few states need psychiatric technicians to be licensed, the majority of the states do not have such a restriction. The majority of the states necessitate that trained and experienced individuals should be equipped with certification. Certification is accessible via the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians and available at four different levels.

  • A number of Psychiatric Technician Certification Program Fields: Anthropology sociology, psychology, personality.
  • Prerequisites: A lot of colleges that offer certificate programs in psychiatric technology necessitate that high school graduates and incoming students finish a number of college-level prerequisite courses so as to obtain admission such as introductory psychology, college mathematics, human anatomy and college writing courses.

How to Obtain Certificate in Psychiatric Technology

Certificate_seal-512Students who aspire to obtain Psychiatric Technology Certificate program should learn about the differed mental illnesses that they will meet in the future. They are bound to learn basic concepts of giving patient care for people that are afflicted by mental illnesses and at the same time provide general counseling techniques. Certain course examples are the following: Foundations of psychiatric technology, Behavioral science, General psychology, Nursing science and psychiatric technology and Counseling techniques.

Licensing Requirements for Psychiatric Technician Aspirants

License-manager-iconSince 2013, Arkansas, California, Colorado and Kansas were the only states that needed licensure for people who are aspiring to become psychiatric technicians. Requirements differed among these states, but usually included a number of college schooling and an examination.

In order to become a licensed psychiatric technician in California, aspirants are required to attend a state-sanctioned psychiatric technician program, hand out transcripts of their grades and state any misdemeanor or felony convictions they are involved if any. Colorado provides separate tests to students studying to collaborate with people who are plagued with mental or emotional problems. Prior to registering to plunge in one of these examinations, Colorado students must finish a mandatory, state-sanctioned psychiatric training program.

Aspiring psychiatric technicians in Arkansas should complete an approved nursing program and give in to a criminal background check prior to registering for the state licensure examination. Psychiatric technicians in Kansas are required to obtain a high school diploma or GED and finish a state-sanctioned mental health technology course. In addition, the aspirants should register to take the licensure exam within two years of graduating a mental health course.

Psychiatric Employment Prospects and Salary Information

From 2012 up to 2022, the employment of psychiatric technicians is expected to grow by 4%, stated the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This projected rate was slower-than-the-average as opposed to all of the other career paths. As of 2014, the median yearly wage for psychiatric technicians was $31,130 according to the BLS.

Certification Alternatives

There are a number of states that necessitate psychiatric technicians to go through licensure exam before becoming psychiatric technicians, these include Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Kansas. The remaining 46 states in the US don’t need psychiatric technicians to go through licensure exam but require certification to practice the profession. The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians provides certification alternatives for people who had undergone training. There are four various certification levels offered, depending upon the educational attainment and experience of the in the field.

Credentialing Info for Psychiatric Technicians

Credentials_icon_PA-2The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT) provides voluntary certification exams for aspiring professionals in the field. In a number of cases, certification from AAPT is needed prior to practicing the profession. Certification can also be helpful for those who are employed in states where passing licensure exam is not obligatory since substantial knowledge in the field of psychiatric treatment is good enough.

Four Levels of Certification Requirements

There are 4 levels of certification that are being offered by the APPT. The Level 1 certification, requires that applicants should possess high school diploma or GED. Aspirants who are eyeing the Level 2 certification must have finished no less than 480 hours of college courses in any field, and at the same have at least 2 years work experience in the mental health field. The requirements for Level 3 certification are almost similar to that of Level 2, but the aspirants should have at least 960 hours of college courses. A bachelor’s degree and no less than 3 years of experience in the mental health field are required in order to obtain Level 4 certification.

Certification Examinations

Irrespective of what level of certification an aspirant is aiming at, hurdling the Level 1 examination is needed. The Level 1 certification requires a multiple-choice, open-book examination that encompasses entry-level knowledge like basic nursing techniques and medical terminology. Technicians are even permitted to take the examination at home or in a school setting. Aspirants who are pursuing certification at Levels 2, 3 or 4 must finish an essay examination on situations that they might face while practicing the profession in the near future.

Psychiatric Technician Salary in the United States


psychiatric technician salary

The psychiatric technician profession in the United States posts an average hourly rate of $13.97. Earnings usually range from $10.19 per hour up to $24.17 per hour. Geographic location happens to be the biggest factor that has an impact to annual wage for this profession, followed by a number of years of experience. Most of them said that they are getting medical coverage from their employers and receiving their dental insurance. Job satisfaction for Psychiatric Technicians is relatively high. Most of Psychiatric Technicians (around 61%) who partake in the survey are women. The information in this summary emanates from the survey conducted by PayScale.

Psychiatric Technician Salaries by Percentile (Data collected from Salary.com)
Percentile Salary Location Last Updated
10th Percentile Psychiatric Technician Salary $23,627 US July 29, 2016
25th Percentile Psychiatric Technician Salary $26,856 US July 29, 2016
50th Percentile Psychiatric Technician Salary $30,402 US July 29, 2016
75th Percentile Psychiatric Technician Salary $34,937 US July 29, 2016
90th Percentile Psychiatric Technician Salary $39,065 US July 29, 2016

According to Payscale, psychiatric technicians have an overtime hourly rate that ranges between $13.75 and $42.97, hourly tips of $0.67, a yearly bonus of up to $515 and an annual wage of $22,063 up to $56,236.

Occupational Employment and Wages as of May 2015

Psychiatric technicians care for people who are afflicted by emotional or mental conditions or disabilities, under the instructions and supervision physicians or other mental health practitioners. The technicians monitor patients about their emotional and physical condition and report their observations to medical staff. The technicians may partake in treatment and rehabilitation programs, aid with personal hygiene, and administer medications whether oral or injectable.

The entry-level monthly wage in California ranges between $2,400 and $5,800 depending on certification or attained degree status. There is a deficiency of trained and seasoned psychiatric technicians in the state, with constant demand is pronounced in the public sector. The majority of the jobs are focused on state hospitals like Sonoma and Developmental Center and Napa State Hospital, but there is also demand within the private mental health care facilities, prison systems, and hospitals that are in need of psych techs on their mental health units.

Overview of the national estimates for psychiatric technicians

As of May 2015 there are 58,450 psychiatric technicians that are employed all across the United States. The national hourly wage mean for the profession and national annual wage mean are $17.44 and $36,280 respectively.

Industries that registered the highest levels of employment in this profession are: Psychiatric and Substance Hospitals (22,790), General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (10,820), State Government OES Designation (8,780), Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Facilities (4,990) and Outpatient Care Centers (2,500).

Psych techs that are employed in Psychiatric and Substance Hospitals are the highest wage earners in the nation with an annual mean wage of $37,450.