Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities.

Work Environment: Psychiatric technicians and aides work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and related healthcare settings. They may spend much of their shift on their feet.

How to Become One: Psychiatric technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate, and aides need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Both technicians and aides get on-the-job training.

Salary: The median annual wage for psychiatric aides is $29,180. The median annual wage for psychiatric technicians is $32,870.

Job Outlook: Overall employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 12 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for this occupation will be affected by the growth of the older population. Older people typically experience higher rates of cognitive illnesses than younger people do.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of psychiatric technicians and aides with similar occupations.

Top 3 Psychiatric Aide Jobs

  • PSYCHIATRIC AIDE - Interior Health Authority - Kamloops

    In accordance with established vision and values of the organization and as a member of the multi-disciplinary tertiary acute

  • REGISTERED NURSE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSE (CASUAL) - Northern Health Authority - Terrace

    Qualifications • Registration with BC College of Nursing Professionals as a practicing RN or RPN registrant. • Minimum of one (1) year

  • Health Care Aide - Southern Health-Santé Sud - Portage La Prairie

    Under the supervision of the Registered Nurse/Registered Psychiatric Nurse/ Licensed

See all Psychiatric Aide jobs

What Psychiatric Technicians and Aides Do[About this section] [To Top]

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Technicians typically provide therapeutic care and monitor their patients' conditions. Aides help patients in their daily activities and ensure a safe and clean environment.

Duties of Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians, sometimes called mental health technicians, typically do the following:

  • Observe patients' behavior, listen to their concerns, and record their condition
  • Lead patients in therapeutic and recreational activities
  • Give medications and other treatments to patients, following instructions from doctors and other medical professionals
  • Help with admitting and discharging patients
  • Monitor patients' vital signs, such as their blood pressure
  • Help patients with activities of daily living, including eating and bathing
  • Restrain patients who may become physically violent

Psychiatric aides typically do the following:

  • Monitor patients' behavior and location in a mental healthcare facility
  • Help patients with their daily living activities, such as bathing and dressing
  • Serve meals and help patients eat
  • Keep facilities clean by doing tasks such as changing bed linens
  • Participate in group activities, such as playing sports and going on field trips
  • Help transport patients within a hospital or residential care facility
  • Restrain patients who may become physically violent

Many psychiatric technicians and aides work with patients who are severely developmentally disabled and need intensive care. Others work with patients undergoing rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. The work of psychiatric technicians and aides varies with the types of patients they work with.

Psychiatric technicians and aides work as part of a medical team under the direction of physicians and with other team members, who may include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, counselors, and therapists. For more information on the counselors and therapists they may work with, see the profiles on substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Because they have such close contact with patients, psychiatric technicians and aides can have a great deal of influence on patients' outlook and treatment.

Work Environment for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides[About this section] [To Top]

Psychiatric aides hold about 61,600 jobs. The largest employers of psychiatric aides are as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 42%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 20%
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 7%
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 7%

Psychiatric technicians hold about 76,600 jobs. The largest employers of psychiatric technicians are as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 43%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 13%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 8%
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 7%
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 5%

Psychiatric technicians and aides may spend much of their shift on their feet. Some of the work that psychiatric aides do may be unpleasant. They may care for patients whose illnesses make them disoriented, uncooperative, or violent.

Injuries and Illnesses for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides have high injury and illness rates. Their work requires many physically demanding tasks, such as lifting patients. They also work with patients who may be physically uncooperative, which can cause injuries.

Psychiatric Technician and Aide Work Schedule

Psychiatric technicians and aides may work full time or part time. Because hospitals and residential facilities operate 24 hours a day, many psychiatric technicians and aides work nights, weekends, and holidays

How to Become a Psychiatric Technician or Aide[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides near you!

Psychiatric technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate, and aides need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Both technicians and aides get on-the-job training.

Find a Degree:


Education for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians typically have a postsecondary certificate. Often, they have experience as a nursing assistant or a licensed practical nurse and have completed postsecondary education in nursing.

Other psychiatric technicians may have a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree in psychiatric or mental health technology. These programs are offered by community colleges and technical schools and include courses in biology, psychology, and counseling. Psychiatric technician programs may include supervised work experience or cooperative programs, in which students gain academic credit for structured work experience.

Psychiatric aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Psychiatric Technician and Aide Training

Psychiatric technicians and aides usually have a short period of on-the-job training before they can work without direct supervision.

Training may include working with patients while under the close supervision of an experienced technician or aide. Technicians and aides may also attend workshops, lectures, or in-service training.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians typically need clinical experience, which can be gained by working in occupations such as nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse.

Important Qualities for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Compassion. Because psychiatric technicians and aides spend much of their time interacting with patients, they should be caring and want to help people.

Interpersonal skills. Psychiatric technicians and aides often provide ongoing care for patients, so they should develop a rapport with them. Gaining such rapport makes psychiatric technicians and aides better able to treat their patients and evaluate their condition.

Observational skills. Technicians must watch patients closely and be sensitive to any changes in behavior. For their safety and that of their patients, they must recognize signs of discomfort or trouble among patients.

Patience. Working with the mentally ill can be emotionally challenging. Psychiatric technicians and aides must stay calm in stressful situations.

Physical stamina. Psychiatric technicians and aides must lift, move, and sometimes restrain patients. They must also spend much of their time on their feet.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Most states do not require psychiatric technicians to have a license. California is one of the larger states that requires a license. In those states which license them, technicians usually are required to complete an accredited education program, pass an exam, and pay a fee to be licensed.

The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians offers four levels of certification for psychiatric technicians. The certifications allow technicians to show a high level of professional competency. Requirements vary by certification.

Psychiatric aides are not required to be licensed.

Psychiatric Technician and Aide Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for psychiatric aides is $29,180. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,490.

The median annual wage for psychiatric technicians is $32,870. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,430.

The median annual wages for psychiatric aides in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private $32,090
State government, excluding education and hospitals $28,610
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities $26,740
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities $24,290

The median annual wages for psychiatric technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $45,170
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private $34,040
General medical and surgical hospitals; private $33,150
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities $29,120
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers $28,190

Psychiatric technicians and aides may work full time or part time. Because hospitals and residential facilities operate 24 hours a day, many psychiatric technicians and aides work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides[About this section] [To Top]

Overall employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 12 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Cognitive mental disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, are more likely to occur among older persons. As the nation's population ages and people live longer, demand for psychiatric technicians and aides is expected to increase because these workers will be needed to care for patients affected by such disorders.

Psychiatric technicians and aides also will be needed in correctional facilities, to care for the aging prisoner population and for those with mental health issues.

Employment projections data for Psychiatric Technicians and Aides, 2018-28
Occupational Title Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28
Percent Numeric
Psychiatric technicians and aides 138,200 154,600 12 16,300
  Psychiatric technicians 76,600 86,100 12 9,500
  Psychiatric aides 61,600 68,500 11 6,900


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: