Psychiatric Technician Job Description
Psychiatric technicians follow the instructions of physicians to care for individuals with emotional or mental conditions. They are responsible for monitoring the physical and emotional well-being of patients, and reporting it to the medical staff. Some psychiatric technicians also assist with rehabilitation programs.
Psychiatric technicians are commonly employed by substance abuse facilities, psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, and mental health centers.
Psychiatric technicians normally work as part of a team with psychiatric aides, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, therapists, and psychologists. Of all the healthcare professionals who work with the patients, psychiatric technicians are among those who interact with the patients the most. This means that they can often have a big influence on the lives of the patients they work with.
This can be a very physically demanding occupation. Psychiatric technicians spend the majority of their shifts working on their feet, and sometimes need to perform physically challenging tasks like lifting or securing heavy patients.
Sometimes, psychiatric patients can be violent or uncooperative, and technicians may be exposed to some dangerous situations. Following established procedures can help reduce the risk of injury, and with practice, technicians become good at handling ugly situations. However, it’s never possible to eliminate the risk entirely.
Since most hospitals and substance centers are open every hour of every day, psychiatric technicians are sometimes required to work irregular hours. Working on nights, weekends, and holidays is often required.
The majority of psychiatric technicians work full time, but there are many part time employment opportunities available as well.
How to Become a Psychiatric Technician
Psychiatric technicians need to have a certificate or associate’s degree in psychiatric or mental health technology. These programs are offered by many technical schools and community colleges, and include courses in counseling, psychology, and biology.
Mental health and psychiatric technology programs normally include work experience or coop programs, which are designed to give students the real world experience that they will need to get a job. This experience is extremely valuable, and very similar to an internship.
Earning a certificate can take as little as six months, but getting an associate’s degree normally takes two years. Both programs have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Associate’s degrees require students to take a lot of coursework that isn’t directly related to working as a psychiatric technician. To graduate, students need to take liberal arts courses, as well as courses in math and science. However, these credits normally transfer to a four year university, so if you think you might want to earn a bachelor’s later on, an associate’s degree will make that easier for you.
The courses taken in a certificate program don’t normally transfer to a four year school, but the training is extremely focused on preparing students for a career as a psychiatric technician.
Whether you decide to earn a certificate or an associate’s degree will depend on what your long-term career and academic goals are.
Once hired, psychiatric technicians are trained on the job. Training can last anywhere between a few weeks and several months.
A few states require psychiatric technicians to be licensed. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, but normally require graduating from an accredited school, passing an exam, and paying a licensing fee.
If your state doesn’t require licensing but you still want to become certified, there is a national certification offered by the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians.
There are currently 74,900 psychiatric technicians in the United States, with 2,460 new psychiatric technician job openings created each year.
Psychiatric Technician jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Psychiatric Technician Salaries
Psychiatric Technician salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most psychiatric technicians make between $21,800 – $37,600 per year, or $10.46 – $18.09 per hour.