Psychiatric Technician: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a psychiatric technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Psychiatric Technician?

Psychiatric technicians work with mentally unstable patients and patients in similar circumstances. These tasks may include, but are not limited to, observing a patient's behavior, recording conditions and progress, conducting therapeutic or recreational activities, administering medication and monitoring vital signs. Psychiatric technicians may also help admit and discharge patients, help patients with daily activities and help restrain patients if necessary. Most of their patients require intensive care, so psychiatric technicians will work in a team of various healthcare workers. The following chart gives you an overview of the requirements to enter this field.

Education Required Postsecondary certificate
Education Field of Study Psychiatric or mental health technology
Key Responsibilities Administer medication and treatments; guide patients in daily and therapeutic activities; check patient vital signs and report changes
Licensure and Certification Four states require licensure; professional certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%*
Median Salary (2015) $31,140*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Psychiatric Technician?

In this profession, you would provide care for patients with mental illnesses, developmental challenges or emotional disturbances. You would work under the supervision of physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses and other medical personnel. Using patient treatment plans developed by psychiatrists, you would counsel clients during therapy sessions, evaluate and monitor patients who are using medication, keep medical records and report problems with medicines or changes in a client's health. Psychiatric technicians also assist patients with hygiene and administer hypodermic injections.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 58,450 employed psychiatric technicians in the United States as of May 2015, and they earned a median salary of $31,140. At this time, 22,790 of these technicians were employed in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals. Employment for psychiatric technicians was projected to grow as fast as average in the decade from 2014-2024.

What Education Do I Need?

Educational requirements for psychiatric technicians are determined by individual states. You may be required to complete a certificate program, which can take 12-18 months. Certificate programs may include courses in psychology, anatomy and nursing.

You could also choose to enroll in an associate's or bachelor's degree program in order to further your professional knowledge and skills. Many certificate and degree programs combine classroom learning with supervised clinical experience.

Although not all states require licensure, some may require that you pass a state-certified examination and undergo supervised clinical training to become a licensed psychiatric technician. You may also pursue certification through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians, which offers four levels of certification according to education and experience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative careers that require at least a postsecondary nondegree award include those of medical assistants, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Medical assistants work in a variety of healthcare facilities and perform different kinds of administrative or clinical tasks. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are healthcare professionals that work under registered nurses (RNs) or physicians to provide basic care to patients.

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