Mental Health Technician Training

Read about the job and curriculum for certificate and degree programs that train mental health technicians. Find out what licensure and certification may be required or voluntary for psychiatric technicians. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Training Is Available?

Mental health technician programs usually award a diploma, certificate or associate's degree, though bachelor's degree programs also exist. You can find these programs at community and vocational colleges as well as public and private universities. Schools often coordinate academic and practical training with any state laws or rules. Usually, only a high school diploma or GED is necessary for admission, though some schools might require that you take some prerequisite courses, such as basic medical or science classes, before beginning the program. Though uncommon, you can find some schools that offer online certificate and degree programs, though you'll still need to complete an in-person internship as part of your program.

Programs Diploma, certificate, associate's and bachelor's degrees available; practical and theoretic training provided; partly online study available; prerequisite courses may be mandatory
The Job Involves duties including administering medication; leading or supervising group activities; assisting with medical procedures at a mental health facility
Common Courses Counseling skills, rehabilitation, addiction, treatment, abnormal psychology
Getting Licensed and Certified Requirements vary by state; licensing requirements include psychiatric technician program and exam completion, work experience; voluntary national certification also available

What Is a Mental Health Technician?

As a mental health technician, you'll be specially trained to assist physicians and other health professionals in the treatment, observation and care of individuals who are mentally ill or disabled. You might be in charge of administering medication, leading or supervising group activities, helping patients with day-to-day activities, assisting with medical procedures and documenting behaviors. After your training is complete, you could work at a hospital, mental health clinic, nursing home, personal care facility or health agency.

What Classes Could I Take?

Mental health technician programs typically consist of a mixture of classroom, laboratory and clinical work. Programs usually combine mental health, counseling and psychology courses with the development of skills necessary to work in a mental health or health care facility. Course topics might include counseling skills, rehabilitation, aging, addiction, treatment and abnormal psychology. A significant portion of your learning could come from internships or work co-op experiences where you can observe the care that professional mental heath technicians give to patients and the types of support tasks they offer doctors and other medical specialists.

How Does Licensure and Certification Work?

Whether or not you need licensure depends on the state you live in. According to the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT), as of 2012, only California, Colorado, Arkansas and Kansas required mental health technicians to be licensed (www.psychtechs.org). The licensing process typically includes completing a psychiatric technician program, having work experience and passing an exam. There could be additional requirements if you pursue a position at a nursing home.

If your state doesn't require licensure, you might consider voluntary national certification through the AAPT. There are four levels of credentialing available, with each level requiring different degrees of education and experience. To achieve level one certification, you would need only a high school diploma or GED. The remaining levels require varying degrees of college coursework along with 1-3 years of professional experience in the field.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Capella University

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