How to Become a Psychiatric Technician

How to Become a Psychiatric Technician

Patients who struggle with mental illness or developmental disabilities rely on professionals to care for them and ensure that they receive appropriate care and experience the best quality of life possible. Psychiatric technicians play an important role in mental health teams as they work with patients to provide the sensitive, caring services necessary to improve their lives and ensure they receive quality care.

What does a psychiatric technician do?

Psychiatric technicians typically work in institutional settings with people who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. Under the supervision of a healthcare professional, psychiatric technicians assist patients with personal care and hygiene, administer medications, help patients participate in individual and group activities, and monitor patient progress. Psychiatric aides perform similar duties, but the education requirements are less, and there is more on the job training involved.

Depending on their level of certification and their employer, some psychiatric technicians provide additional services, such as keeping records, admitting patients, and participating in treatment planning. Click here to find out how to become a psychiatric technician.

What kind of training does a psychiatric technician need?

Some states accept only licensed psychiatric technicians, while others will allow people to enter the field as a psychiatric aide with only a high school diploma or an Associate of Applied Science in Mental Health Technology. Psychiatric aide training is mostly provided on the job. In order to be eligible for increased salary opportunities and advancement, psychiatric technicians need to complete college courses or obtain a degree, in a field related to mental health or developmental disabilities and to complete examinations for different levels of certification.

Voluntary certification is offered through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT) and is available at four levels. Psychiatric technician certification level 1 requires a high school diploma or GED and completion of an exam. Level 2 requires completion of 30 semester hours (or 40 quarter hours) of college courses and one year of experience working in the mental health or developmental disabilities field. Level 3 requires 60 semester hours (or 80 quarter hours) of college courses and two years experience, and level 4 requires a bachelor degree in a related field and three years of experience. Levels 2, 3, and 4 also require successful completion of essay examinations. Click here to get a list of online psychiatric technician programs.

What are the prospects for a career as a psychiatric technician?

Entry level healthcare positions including psychiatric technician jobs are expected to increase by 28% between 2006 and 2016. This is significantly faster growth than entry level occupations in other fields. (1)

How much do psychiatric technicians make?

The average psychiatric technician salary varies depending on a number of factors, including geographical location, experience and level of certification. The median base salary for psychiatric technicians across the United States is between $25,000 and $32,700, with the highest 10% earning more than $36,700. (2) Psychiatric aide salary ranges between $22,800 and $29,200.

Various psych tech certification levels allow psychiatric technicians to enter the field with relatively little education and allows for career advancement as they gain experience and education. Psychiatric technician careers give caring individuals with stable personalities the opportunity to directly impact the quality of life of mentally ill people, making this a great choice for people who enjoy helping others and seeing the fruits of their labor on a daily basis.

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