Psychiatric technicians help people that are developmentally or emotionally disabled. They help people that are suffering from mental distress or mental illness including psychosis, depression and dementia. They are part of a professional services team. They work under the direction of psychiatrists, mental health nurses, registered nurses and other mental health workers. A psychiatric technician position is an entry-level role in a psychiatric facility.
A psychiatric technician monitors the progress of patients. They help patients participate in group activities. A psychiatric technician may administer oral medications and hypodermic injections and help with personal care and hygiene.
Depending on their employer and their level of certification some psychiatric technicians perform tasks such as admitting patients, record keeping and participating in treatment planning.
Some sample job titles are mental health assistant, health care technician, mental health worker and mental health technician.
- Develop and teach strategies in order to promote client wellness and independence
- Assist and support patients treatment plans
- Monitor patients using medications
- Encourage patients to participate in recreational social and other therapeutic activities that improve interpersonal skills and develop social relationships
- Consult and counsel clients about treatment options and medication therapies
- Assist patients with personal care and hygiene
- Take and record measures of a patient's physical condition
- Research and stay current with new medications
- Report any problems, issues or concerns regarding medication or changes in a patient's physical or mental health
- Encourage patients to develop work skills
Psychiatric technicians usually work in an institutional setting. A psychiatric technician should be compassionate and have the desire to help people.
Good employment growth is expected for psychiatric technicians. Healthcare organizations are creating more jobs related to the role of psychiatric technician. In addition, the median annual earnings of psychiatric technicians in 2008 was $29,250.
Various psych tech certification levels let individuals enter the field with relatively little education. They may advance in their careers as they gain education and experience.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most healthcare organizations prefer candidates that have earned an associate degree in human service or a mental health field. Coursework for psychiatric technicians provide and introduction to the general psychology field and emphasizes application and theory in different clinical environments. The classes emphasize the principals that help psychiatric technicians understand the behavior of mentally ill patients. They also take pharmacology courses to learn about medications and how to safely administer them to patients.
In some states, psychiatric technicians have to be licensed, whereas other states allow individuals to enter the field as a psychiatric aide with just a high school diploma or an associate degree in mental health technology. Psychiatric aide training is primarily provided on the job.
In order to advance in their careers, psychiatric technicians typically need to complete college courses or earn a degree in a mental health or developmental disabilities related field. They also need to take examinations for different levels of certification.
Voluntary certification is provided by the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians and is available at four different levels. Level one requires a high school diploma and passing an exam. Level two requires 30 semester hours of college courses and one year of work experience in a developmental disabilities or mental health field. Level three requires a combination of 60 semester hours of college coursework and two years experience. Level four requires a combination of a bachelor's degree and three years of experience.
The top employers are psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; residential mental retardation, mental health and substance abuse facilities; doctors' offices, outpatient care centers, individual and family services, and hospitals.
Schools for Psychiatric Technicians are listed in the Browse Schools Section.