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Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21e2Kv9qzGU.
Quick Facts: Psychiatric Technicians and Aides
2023 Median Pay $39,610 per year
$19.05 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, 2022 139,600
Job Outlook, 2022-32 9% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 12,000

What Psychiatric Technicians and Aides Do

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental conditions or developmental disabilities.

Work Environment

Psychiatric technicians and aides work primarily in healthcare settings, such as psychiatric hospitals and residential mental health facilities. The work may be physically demanding, and technicians and aides risk injury on the job. Most are full time, but part-time work is common; schedules may include nights, weekends, or holidays in facilities that are open 24 hours.

How to Become a Psychiatric Technician or Aide

To enter the occupation, psychiatric technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate, and aides need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states require technicians to be licensed. Both technicians and aides get on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for psychiatric aides was $39,160 in May 2023.

The median annual wage for psychiatric technicians was $39,700 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 9 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 15,200 openings for psychiatric technicians and aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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 technicians may monitor patients' vital signs, such as taking their blood pressure.

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental or emotional conditions or developmental disabilities. Technicians typically monitor patients’ conditions and provide therapeutic care, such as overseeing their medications. Aides help patients in their daily activities and ensure a safe and clean environment.

Duties

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

  • Listen to patients' concerns, observe their behavior, and record their condition
  • Report changes in patient health or behavior to medical staff
  • Lead patients in therapeutic and recreational activities
  • Provide medications and other treatments to patients, following instructions from doctors and other medical professionals
  • Help with patient intake and discharge
  • Monitor patients’ vital signs, such as their blood pressure and body temperature
  • Help patients with daily living activities, including eating and bathing
  • Restrain patients who are or may become physically violent

Psychiatric aides typically do the following:

  • Monitor patients’ behavior and location in a mental healthcare facility
  • Escort patients within a facility
  • Help patients with 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 or accompany patients to group activities, such as recreational sports or field trips
  • Restrain patients who are or may become physically violent

Some psychiatric technicians and aides provide care to patients who have severe developmental disabilities or mental health issues. Others work with patients undergoing rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. Their work varies based on the types of patients they work with.

Psychiatric technicians and aides work as part of a medical team under the direction of physicians or registered nurses. Other team members may include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and therapists. For more information about 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.

Work Environment About this section

Psychiatric technicians and aides
Psychiatric technicians and aides work primarily in healthcare settings, such as hospitals.

Psychiatric aides held about 32,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of psychiatric aides were as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 45%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 21
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 11
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 5
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 2

Psychiatric technicians held about 107,100 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of psychiatric technicians were as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 31%
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 14
Offices of mental health practitioners (except physicians) 10
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 9
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 8

Psychiatric technicians and aides may need to stand for long periods, and the work can be physically demanding. Some of their tasks are unpleasant, and it can be challenging to care for patients who are disoriented, uncooperative, or violent.

Despite their work’s challenges, however, psychiatric technicians and aides may find it rewarding. For example, their close contact with patients allows technicians and aides to have a positive influence on patients’ outlook and treatment.

Injuries and Illnesses

Psychiatric technicians and aides have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Common injuries may include sprains and strains, such as from lifting and turning patients. Injuries also may result from working with patients who are physically uncooperative.

Psychiatric technicians and aides learn proper lifting techniques to minimize their risk of injury. In addition, these workers receive safety training to help with handling patients who may be a danger to themselves or others.

Work Schedule

Most psychiatric technicians and aides work full time, but part-time work is common. Because hospitals and residential facilities operate 24 hours a day, psychiatric technicians and aides may 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.

To enter the occupation, psychiatric technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate, and aides need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states require technicians to be licensed. Both technicians and aides get on-the-job training.

Education

Psychiatric technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate for psychiatric technicians, behavioral health technicians, or similar titles. Programs for these certificates or associate’s degrees, available at community colleges and technical schools, train students in basic nursing skills. They include courses in psychology, anatomy, and pharmacology and also may include supervised clinical work experience. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree.

Psychiatric aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Psychiatric technicians and aides may have a short period of on-the-job training. This training may include working with patients while under the supervision of an experienced technician or aide.

Other Experience

Employers may prefer that psychiatric technicians and aides have experience in a related occupation, such as having worked with people who have developmental disabilities or mental health conditions. Technician experience also may include a clinical component, which they can gain in occupations such as nursing assistant or licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require psychiatric technicians to have a license. Requirements may include completing an accredited education program and passing an exam. Contact your state licensing board for additional information.

Psychiatric technicians may choose to earn optional certification. For example, the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians offers four levels of certification for psychiatric technicians. Requirements vary based on education and work experience.

Employers may require candidates to have certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS).

Important Qualities

Compassion. Psychiatric technicians and aides spend much of their time interacting with patients who have mental, emotional, or developmental conditions. They must be caring and understanding of their patients.

Interpersonal skills. Psychiatric technicians and aides may want to develop a rapport with patients in order to properly care for them. They also must be able to work well as part of a medical team.

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

Patience. Working with people who have mental, emotional, or developmental conditions may be challenging. Psychiatric technicians and aides must be able to stay calm in stressful situations.

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

Pay About this section

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Median annual wages, May 2023

Total, all occupations

$48,060

Psychiatric technicians

$39,700

Psychiatric technicians and aides

$39,610

Psychiatric aides

$39,160

 

The median annual wage for psychiatric aides was $39,160 in May 2023. 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 $27,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $55,240.

The median annual wage for psychiatric technicians was $39,700 in May 2023. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59,990.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for psychiatric aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private $41,790
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 38,820
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 36,190
State government, excluding education and hospitals 36,190
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 35,390

In May 2023, the median annual wages for psychiatric technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Offices of mental health practitioners (except physicians) $41,610
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 41,150
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; state, local, and private 39,030
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 37,670
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 36,640

Most psychiatric technicians and aides work full time, but part-time work is common. Because hospitals and residential facilities operate 24 hours a day, psychiatric technicians and aides may work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook About this section

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Psychiatric technicians

10%

Psychiatric technicians and aides

9%

Psychiatric aides

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Overall employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 9 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 15,200 openings for psychiatric technicians and aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Projected employment of psychiatric technicians and aides varies by occupation (see table). Cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, are more likely to occur in older people. As the nation’s population of older people grows, demand is expected to increase for psychiatric technicians and aides who care for patients affected by such disorders.

Psychiatric technicians and aides also will be needed to care for people who have mental health and substance abuse issues.

Employment projections data for psychiatric technicians and aides, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Psychiatric technicians and aides

139,600 151,500 9 12,000

Psychiatric technicians

29-2053 107,100 117,500 10 10,400 Get data

Psychiatric aides

31-1133 32,400 34,000 5 1,600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 OEWS 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.org. 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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Child care workers Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to children's needs while helping to foster early development.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,370
home health aides image Home Health and Personal Care Aides

Home health and personal care aides monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities.

High school diploma or equivalent $33,530
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care.

Postsecondary nondegree award $59,730
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and taking patients’ vital signs.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,000
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help patients with activities of daily living. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $38,130
Occupational therapy assistants and aides Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help occupational therapists provide treatments and procedures to clients, or they do routine tasks such as preparing treatment rooms.

See How to Become One $65,450
Registered nurses Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions.

Bachelor's degree $86,070
Social and human service assistants Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,410
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychiatric Technicians and Aides,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/psychiatric-technicians-and-aides.htm (visited June 10, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

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, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

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 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.