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Psychiatric Technician Certification and Training Programs

Explore the curricula of certificate or associate degree programs for psychiatric technicians. Review state licensure requirements and elective certifications for mental health technicians.

What Psychiatric Technician Programs Are Available?

Certificate and associate degree programs exist in psychiatric technology. Certificate programs generally take less than a year to complete, and you can usually earn an associate degree in about two years. You'll usually find programs offered in states that require licensure for the psychiatric technician profession, such as California, Colorado or Arkansas.

Similar to nursing programs, psychiatric technology programs teach you how to provide backup to physicians, operate health care equipment, manage different types of patients, administer medication and maintain patient hygiene.

Program LevelsCertificate program, associate's degree
Skills Learned Nursing techniques, crisis management, diet therapy, taking vital signs, patient care procedures
Licensure Information Some states require licensure to practice; may require proof of education, passing an exam and background check
Certification Options State certification and AAPT national certification are available
Median Salary (2018) $32,870 (for all psychiatric technicians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth (for all psychiatric technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Can I Expect?

Classes in a psychiatric technician program introduce you to monitoring and care procedures for psychiatric patients as well as knowing when a patient needs medical attention. You can also study methods to facilitate inter-patient communication and learn to take vital signs. You might develop abilities in assisting mentally handicapped or emotionally disturbed patients. Both program levels prepare you to pass licensure and certification exams.

Since a psychiatric technician is similar to a nurse, you can expect to learn basic nursing techniques. You'll also explore mental health types, how the mind works and how psychiatric nursing differs from other types of nursing. Some programs offer courses in diet therapy, crisis management, pharmacology, medical health technology, psychology and psychiatric nursing.

Do I Need to Get Licensed?

Depending on the state where you might be employed, you might be required to obtain licensure. You could need to show proof of acceptable education, submit to a background check and fingerprinting and pass a state-issued exam. Some states offer licensure based on the types of patients you work with. To renew your license, you could have to complete continuing education activities.

What Types of Certification Can I Earn?

Though not required, professional certification is an option whether you need state licensure or not. Some states offer certification options, or you can receive national certification through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians. The organization offers four certification levels based on your academic background and experience in the field.

To earn your credential, you'll need to pass a multiple-choice exam. If you have some formal training and job experience, you can also take a written test to earn certification at Level 2, 3 or 4. Renewal requirements include a minimum of 12 hours of classroom or self-study coursework or training and exposure to a literary work on mental health.