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Psychiatric Technicians

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.

Responsibilities

  • 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

Job Characteristics

Psychiatric technicians usually work in an institutional setting. A psychiatric technician should be compassionate and have the desire to help people.

Employment Outlook

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.

Resources

Major Employers

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.

Psychiatric Technicians Skills

Below are the skills needed to be psychiatric technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Social Perceptiveness4.124.38
Speaking44
Monitoring3.883.88
Active Listening3.883.88
Reading Comprehension3.754

Psychiatric Technicians Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be psychiatric technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension44
Problem Sensitivity44
Oral Expression44
Inductive Reasoning3.623.88
Deductive Reasoning3.624

Psychiatric Technicians Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be psychiatric technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Psychology4.215.51
Therapy and Counseling3.744.84
Customer and Personal Service3.623.93
Public Safety and Security3.584.17
English Language3.173.46

Psychiatric Technicians Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being psychiatric technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Assisting and Caring for Others4.835.86
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.634.31
Documenting/Recording Information4.545
Getting Information4.454.25
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.374.58

Psychiatric Technicians Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being psychiatric technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Concern for Others4.62
Stress Tolerance4.6
Adaptability/Flexibility4.48
Self Control4.4
Dependability4.38

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Psychiatric Technicians

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Psychiatric Technicians jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach3,090 $29,920
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale2,300 $33,150
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim1,600 $53,960
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land1,380 $33,370
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario1,280 $58,970
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater1,140 $26,970
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington1,090 $33,310
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande860 $58,470
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford850 $26,350
Fresno830 $58,150

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Employment
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Total employment and salary for professions similar to psychiatric technicians

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Psychiatric Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.