How do I Become a Psychiatric Aide?

Erin J. Hill

To become a psychiatric aide, you will need to receive the proper training and become certified in your area. This may require you to attend a two- or four-year institution for education, with the exact amount of time you will need to attend depending on the field you intend to enter and the area in which you live. If you intend to work with a specific kind of patients you may also need additional training in that particular field. For instance, if you want to work with patients who suffer from depression or bipolar disorder, you may do extra studies on these conditions.

Psychiatric hospitals may have internships for people wanting to become a psychiatric aide.
Psychiatric hospitals may have internships for people wanting to become a psychiatric aide.

Many psychiatric aides are registered nurses who have acquired either a four- or two-year nursing degree along with some specialized training in the psychiatric field. An aide in this atmosphere will need to be accustomed to working with patients who are mentally rather than physically ill, so an internship may also be required in addition to formal education. This training can be obtained at most technical schools or universities.

A psychiatric aide may work in a mental hospital.
A psychiatric aide may work in a mental hospital.

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You can find the necessary schooling needed to become a psychiatric aide by calling around and speaking with student advisors about your plans to become a psychiatric aide. He or she can give you information on courses the school has available that will help you reach your goals. You may also get the chance to speak with instructors about the classes they offer and the career field itself, as many teachers have had extensive experience in the field as well.

Once you have chosen a school and gotten the required education, you will likely be required to take a certification exam in order to officially become a psychiatric aide. When this is complete, you can begin looking for jobs in the field by calling various mental health clinics, psychiatric practices, and hospitals. Ask about potential job opportunities and express your interest in working as a psychiatric aide. If you have a preference for the type of patients you will work with, you can also consider finding support groups or specialized centers.

Some public hospitals may have mental health wards, which may have employment opportunities. If you don’t find anyone hiring a psychiatric aide in this way, look through classified ads and network with as many people as possible. Alternatively, you can take a job working in another position and work your way up until you have the job you want.

Many jobs are listed in local newspaper classifieds.
Many jobs are listed in local newspaper classifieds.

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