How Can I Become a Drug Rehab Technician?

Research what it takes to become a drug rehab technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Drug Rehab Technician?

Drug rehab technicians work as part of a medical and mental health support team to assist clients dealing with substance abuse issues. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that these professionals are a type of psychiatric technician and can work in a variety of settings, such as public and private clinics, psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities and drug or alcohol treatment centers. They evaluate clients' addictions and help implement treatment plans. They may also be required to administer medications under the direction of a doctor, as well as monitor patients' vital signs and help them with daily living activities. Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a drug rehab technician is right for you.

Degree Required Varies from high school diploma, postsecondary certificate or associate's degree
Key Skills Compassion, interpersonal skills, speaking and listening skills
Licensure Required Varies from state to state
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% increase for all psychiatric technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $28,320 for all psychiatric technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Tasks Might I Perform?

In general, you would work closely with clients to provide therapeutic care. Your daily tasks could include admitting and discharging patients as well as observing and recording their behavior. Other tasks you might perform include monitoring vital signs, dispensing medication and restraining violent patients. You may also lead recreational workshops and assist patients with their daily hygiene and meals.

What Education and Training Will I Need?

The BLS indicates that despite the variance between state requirements, most will probably require you to complete an accredited program. You may want to explore associate's degree programs in mental health technology. If you're already enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in psychology or another relevant field, this may further assist you with becoming a drug rehab technician.

Community college programs usually require general education requirements and electives as well as primary coursework in topics like crisis intervention, substance abuse, general psychology, abnormal psychology, adolescent psychology and personality theories. You may also be required to take sociology, activity therapy and group dynamics. Accredited programs usually include supervised experience through a practicum or externship.

Once hired, you may receive supervised training that can last for a few months. In some cases, this training may include working directly with patients, attending lectures and workshops.

Will I Need to Become Licensed and Certified?

The BLS stated that as of 2011, Arkansas, California, Colorado and Kansas were the only states that required psychiatric technicians to become licensed. You will probably want to refer to the guidelines for the state within which you want to work to determine what type of license or certification you might need.

You may also consider pursuing voluntary national certification through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT). There are four levels to this certification process, according to the AAPT. The first level must be passed prior to taking the upper levels. If you meet the qualifications for the other levels, you may take them simultaneously. The basic, or level one, exam consists of multiple-choice questions, while subsequent exams include an essay test that covers situations you may encounter in the workplace.

In addition to completing minimum college or university credit hours, the AAPT states that level two requirements include minimum experience in the field. Level three requirements include minimum college or university credit hours as well as experience, and you will need at least a bachelor's degree to pursue the fourth level of certification.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in becoming a drug rehab technician may wish to consider some related alternative careers. For instance, school counselors work in elementary, middle and high schools to help students develop the social and academic skills needed to succeed. School counselors generally require a master's degree to gain employment. Social and human services assistants require only a high school diploma. They work with other professionals in fields such as social work, rehabilitation and psychology to help clients access community services. Social workers require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field. They work in the community to help people find services and cope with a wide range of everyday problems.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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