Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Summary

psychiatric technicians and aides image
Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities.
Quick Facts: Psychiatric Technicians and Aides
2014 Median Pay $28,470 per year
$13.69 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 145,200
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 7,600

What Psychiatric Technicians and Aides Do

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, clean environment.

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, and they have high injury and illness rates.

How to Become a Psychiatric Technician or Aide

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

Pay

The median annual wage for psychiatric technicians and aides was $28,470 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for this occupation will stem from the growth of the older population. Older people typically experience higher rates of cognitive illnesses than younger people do.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for psychiatric technicians and aides.

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about psychiatric technicians and aides by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Psychiatric Technicians and Aides Do About this section

Psychiatric technicians and aides
Psychiatric aides and technicians work as part of a medical team, under the direction of physicians.

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, clean environment.

Duties

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 bedlinens
  • 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 and behavioral disorder counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and mental health 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 About this section

Psychiatric technicians and aides
Psychiatric technicians may monitor patients’ vital signs, such as taking their blood pressure.

Psychiatric technicians held about 67,900 jobs in 2014. Psychiatric aides held about 77,300 jobs in 2014.

The industries that employed the most psychiatric technicians in 2014 were as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 40%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 21
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 15
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 6
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 3

The industries that employed the most psychiatric aides in 2014 were as follows: 

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 38%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 27
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 9
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 7
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 4

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

Because their work requires many physically demanding tasks, such as lifting patients, psychiatric technicians and aides have high injury and illness rates.

Work Schedules

Psychiatric technicians and aides may work full time or part time. Because hospitals and residential facilities are open at all hours, many psychiatric technicians and aides work nights, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Psychiatric Technician or Aide About this section

Psychiatric technicians and aides
Psychiatric technicians observe patients’ behavior and listen to their concerns.

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

Education

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.

Some psychiatric technicians also 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.

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 also may attend workshops, lectures, or inservice training.

Work Experience

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

Important Qualities

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 be able to 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 be able to stay calm in stressful situations.

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

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states do not license psychiatric technicians. California is one of the larger states that does. For 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.

Psychiatric aides are not required 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.

Pay About this section

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Median annual wages, May 2014

Total, all occupations

$35,540

Psychiatric technicians

$31,130

Psychiatric technicians and aides

$28,470

Psychiatric aides

$26,220

 

The median annual wage for psychiatric technicians was $31,130 in May 2014. 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 $20,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,280.

The median annual wage for psychiatric aides was $26,220 in May 2014. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $42,310.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for psychiatric technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $35,200
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 31,460
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 31,400
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 26,060
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 22,400

In May 2014, the median annual wages for psychiatric aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows: 

General medical and surgical hospitals; private $29,660
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 28,180
State government, excluding education and hospitals 26,100
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 24,220
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 21,610

Psychiatric technicians and aides may work full time or part time. Because hospitals and residential facilities are open at all hours, many psychiatric technicians and aides work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook About this section

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Psychiatric aides

5%

Psychiatric technicians and aides

5%

Psychiatric technicians

5%

 

Employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as 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 in residential facilities is expected to rise so that these workers can 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.

More psychiatric technicians and aides will be needed in residential treatment facilities and in outpatient care centers to care for patients with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance abuse problems. There is a long-term trend toward treating psychiatric patients in community-based settings rather than in hospitals. These settings allow patients greater independence, and they are often more cost effective.

The number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. Such reform will expand coverage of mental health disorders to millions of people, and more technicians and aides will be needed to provide mental health services for them.

Employment projections data for psychiatric technicians and aides, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Psychiatric technicians and aides

145,200 152,800 5 7,600

Psychiatric technicians

29-2053 67,900 71,400 5 3,500 [XLSX]

Psychiatric aides

31-1013 77,300 81,400 5 4,100 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of psychiatric technicians and aides.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2014 MEDIAN PAY Help
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers provide care for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They attend to children’s basic needs, such as bathing and feeding. In addition, some help children prepare for kindergarten or help older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $19,730
home health aides image

Home Health Aides

Home health aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment with activities of daily living. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

No formal educational credential $21,380
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,490
Medical assistants

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Postsecondary nondegree award $29,960
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $25,090
Occupational therapy assistants and aides

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

See How to Become One $52,300
personal care aides image

Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks. They also provide social supports and assistance that enable clients to participate in their communities.

No formal educational credential $20,440
Registered nurses

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Bachelor's degree $66,640
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,790
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Psychiatric Technicians and Aides,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/psychiatric-technicians-and-aides.htm (visited February 05, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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State & Area Data

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Contacts for More Information

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2014 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,540.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2014 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,547.