How do I Become a Psychiatric Technician?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A person may become a psychiatric technician in different ways that depend largely on employment requirements and region. Many people in this field hold at least a high school diploma, and many more have taken training courses at vocational schools or gotten associate of arts degrees that offer a certificate in mental health technician or psychiatric technician training. People may also take certifying examinations to be designated as a specific level, for example Levels 1-4 or I through IV. Alternately, they may be registered with certifying agencies, which could help widen employment opportunities.

Doctor taking notes
Doctor taking notes

The first question anyone thinking about this field needs to consider is why they want this type of job. It can be difficult work, and depending on patients may be physically challenging. Working with people who are mentally unstable also has physical risks. These challenges are not made up for by high salaries and may only guarantee subsistence level pay, though salaries tend to increase in urban areas. People need to make certain they will be happy with their work if they become a psychiatric technician, or environment, pay, and dissatisfaction can lead to job burnout. If it's possible to volunteer in a mental health, drug treatment or rehabilitation facility to get some sense of the work, people might want to plan for this before making up their minds.

Those who are glad to become a psychiatric technician can pursue several different paths to training. Typically higher demonstrable education, training and experience lead to greater salary and more employment opportunities. People should look for either a vocational school or a community college or university with a mental health technician training programs. It’s a good idea to assess these programs and determine the level, if one exists in the region, to which they will prepare people to be certified. Most training programs take a couple of years to complete.

Another option to become a psychiatric technician is to get on the job training, but not all places will hire a psychiatric technician without experience. Researching requirements of local employers or of any mental health boards that exist can help people determine the best path for training. As stated, more training and/or education are usually more desirable.

Depending on the area in which people live, they may need certification to become a psychiatric technician. This usually involves taking examinations and having a certain amount of hours of experience or education. People might take exams for each level of technician work, and as they progress through their career they may want to take additional examinations or training in order to be eligible for jobs with greater responsibility and higher pay.

There appears to be a growing demand for psychiatric technicians. They can work in a variety of locations, but are especially found in places like mental institutions and drug treatment centers. Though the work can be difficult, those interested in helping others who are mentally disadvantaged can be of great use in this field.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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