A career as a Psychiatric Technician CAN be VERY rewarding as you GAIN experience throughout the years. Not only that, but once you have GAINED enough experience, it CAN lead to other progressive opportunities in the healthcare industry. As you WILL learn in this guide, you can upgrade your education and pivot into other relevant specialties leading to greater responsibilities, a higher salary, and benefits. Not to mention, it’s a career choice that’s HIGHLY in demand. In fact, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the –

“Overall employment of psychiatric technicians and aides is projected to grow 12 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations”

With that said,

To help you along in your journey, our Psychiatric Technician career guide explores areas such as educational requirements, roles, duties of a Psychiatric Technician, career paths to salaries, and a breakdown of the CERTIFICATION/LICENSING examination.


Table of Contents

What Does A Psychiatric Technician Do?
Overview Of The Steps To Become A Psychiatric Technician (CHART)
Psychiatric Technician Education Requirements And Prerequisites
Psychiatric Technician Continuing Education Requirements
Understanding The Psychiatric Technician Certification Examination
Renewing Your Psychiatric Technician Certification
Transferring Your Out of State Psychiatric Technician Certification
Psychiatric Technician Career Paths
Psychiatric Technician Salary
Psychiatric Technician Industry Statistics
Psychiatric Technician Earning Potential by State
Psychiatric Technician Highest Paying US Cities
Choosing The BEST Psychiatric Technician Program For You
Search Psychiatric Technician Jobs In Your Area
Additional Resources


What Does A Psychiatric Technician Do?

As a Psychiatric Technician, you will be providing care for people who have a mental illness and/or those with developmental disabilities. During your training to become a Psychiatric Technician, you will GAIN the knowledge and skills required to provide therapeutic care to patients and monitor them during their treatment.

As a Psychiatric Technician, you will be working as part of a medical team reporting to doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, and other medical professionals.

Some of your duties MAY include:

Observing patient behavior and address any concerns they may have. You will also be responsible for recording their condition

Leading patients in recreational activities

Administering medications and provide treatments to patients as instructed by doctors/ medical professionals

Helping to admit patients

Monitoring vital signs of patients i.e., blood pressure, heart rate, temperature

Helping patients with day-to-day activities like eating, dressing, and bathing

Assisting with the transport process of patients within the care facility or hospital


Overview Of The Steps To Become A Psychiatric Technician (CHART)

 





Psychiatric Technician Education Requirements And Prerequisites

Before you can become ELIGIBLE for the Psychiatric Technician examination, you WILL need to SUCCESSFULLY meet the educational requirements. It is ESSENTIAL to note that an applicant has FOUR (4) levels to complete when becoming a Psychiatric Technician. With that said,

All APPLICANT’S must start at LEVEL ONE (1) to be ELIGIBLE to write the BASIC examination. Let’s explore the educational requirements for each level.

LEVEL 1 – CERTIFICATION

Requires a high school diploma or GED

LEVEL 2 – CERTIFICATION

Candidates MUST PASS the LEVEL ONE (1) BASIC exam, and

Completion of at least 480 hours of College or University courses in any field (30 semester hours or 40 quarter hours). A candidate MUST also have worked in the field of MENTAL HEALTH or developmental disabilities for at least one (1) year.

LEVEL 3 – CERTIFICATION

Candidates MUST PASS the LEVEL ONE (1) BASIC exam, and

Completion of at least 960 hours of College or University courses in any field (60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours). A candidate MUST also have worked in the field of MENTAL HEALTH or developmental disabilities for at least two (2) years.

LEVEL 4 – CERTIFICATION

Candidates MUST PASS the LEVEL ONE (1) BASIC exam, and

Requires a BACHELOR’S degree in a MENTAL HEALTH/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES FIELD, plus having worked in the mental health field for at least three (3) years.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you live in the STATE of California, you WILL be required to get licensed through the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT). To become a Psychiatric Technician in California, you MUST attend an accredited PSYCHIATRIC TECHNICIAN PROGRAM. You will NOT be ELIGIBLE to become a Psychiatric Technician in the STATE of California without completing an accredited program.


Understanding The Psychiatric Technician Certification Examination

When a candidate is ELIGIBLE to take the Psychiatric Technician BASIC exam, they CAN apply here. Regardless of the CERTIFICATION LEVEL the CANDIDATE is applying for; they MUST write the BASIC LEVEL ONE (1) examination. Let’s explore these EXAMINATIONS further –

BASIC EXAMINATION

Open-book 201-questions multiple-choice test.

The LEVEL ONE (1) exam covers questions in the following areas –  basic areas of nursing, medical terminology, and mental illness.

The primary PURPOSE of this EXAM is to address issues that entry-level employees would normally encounter

HIGHER LEVEL CERTIFICATIONS (LEVEL 2,3 and 4)

In addition to passing the LEVEL 1 exam, certification for Levels two (2), three (3), and four (4) require completion of an ESSAY test. This ESSAY test will be based on situations the applicant might encounter on the job.

PLEASE NOTE: Certification at a higher level can be achieved at the same time as taking the Level 1 exam, or it can be done later. College transcripts are required to support higher-level applications.


Psychiatric Technician Continuing Education Requirements

The initial CERTIFICATION is valid for one (1) and you WILL have the option to renew for one (1), two (2) or three (3) years after that. With that said, you CAN only RENEW your license after completing the following continuing education (CE) requirements –

You MUST complete at least twelve (12) hours of study in the field, either in a class, a home-study course or in-service training. Also, you must read one book related to the mental health field. Please fill out and submit the below form to renew or update your certification.


Renewing Your Psychiatric Technician Certification

As just mentioned above, you can RENEW your CERTIFICATION by completing the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians continuing education (CE) requirements.





Transferring Your Out of State Psychiatric Technician Certification

The Psychiatric Technician Certification is a Nationally recognized qualification in MOST STATE’s. If you live in the STATE of California, you will need to complete your CERTIFICATION through the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT). With that said, if you,

If you earn your Psychiatric Technician CERTIFICATION in California, you would be able to practice in the STATE of Colorado, Arkansas, or Kansas since these three (3) STATE’s would recognize the CERTIFICATION as a valid credential. In the remaining STATE’s, the CERTIFICATION received from the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT) would be recognized and considered a VALID credential to work as a Psychiatric Technician.


Psychiatric Technician Career Paths

Once you have become a Certified Psychiatric Technician and have GAINED relevant experience, you WILL have the opportunity to transition into OTHER SPECIFIC specialties. Each one of these specialties WILL bring GREATER responsibilities and a more diverse skillset. Not to mention, the upside to transitioning into a specialty is that you WILL have the OPPORTUNITY to GAIN more experience, be rewarded with HIGHER SALARY, and have access to more comprehensive benefits. With that said,

Let’s EXPLORE some of the CAREER paths available to you as a Psychiatric Technician –

Psychologist: As a Psychiatric Technician, you can transition into becoming a Psychologist; however, you will need to complete additional training before making that transition over. To become a clinical psychologist, you will need an undergraduate degree (four to five years of college) plus a doctorate degree (four to seven years of graduate school). With that said, the experience and knowledge you have GAINED working as a Psychiatric Technician will be an asset when pursuing a career as a Psychologist and extremely rewarding. As a Psychologist, you will enjoy a BASE salary of approx—$104,785 per year, depending on experience.

Registered Nurses: As a Psychiatric Technician, you will be working closely with patients and reporting to other healthcare professionals. As you GAIN GREATER experience as a Psychiatric Technician, you can upgrade your education to become a “Registered Nurse”. Some schools in the United States offer a Psychiatric Technician To Associate Degree Nursing Program (RN) to help make the transition smoother. As a Registered Nurse, you will enjoy a BASE salary of approx. $78,542 per year, depending on experience.

Occupational Therapy Assistants: As a Psychiatric Technician, you will have the opportunity to transition into becoming an Occupational Therapist Assistant. You will need to graduate from an ACCREDITED occupational therapy program; however, your work experience as a Psychiatric Technician will be an asset when applying to a program and applying for jobs afterward. The current BASE SALARY for Occupational Therapists in the United States is approx—$54,342 per year, depending on experience.





Psychiatric Technician Salary

The average annual Psychiatric Technician salary is $76,622, with the average hourly pay being $32.99.

Figures are reflective as of March 2021 (Indeed.com)


Psychiatric Technician Industry Statistics

 

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)


Psychiatric Technician Earning Potential by State

 

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)


Psychiatric Technician Highest Paying US Cities

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)


Choosing The BEST Psychiatric Technician Program For You (CALIFORNIA ONLY)

Once you have decided to pursue a career as a Psychiatric Technician, it’s IMPORTANT you choose a school that will prepare you for what’s ahead. This means choosing a Psychiatric Technician training program that will provide you with a strong foundation and the confidence you NEED to enter the workforce.  As a Psychiatric Technician, you WILL be working closely with other healthcare professionals and patients in areas that require both in-depth knowledge of your responsibilities and a skillset to perform them too. With that said, it’s ESSENTIAL to take into consideration various FACTORS before selecting an accredited Psychiatric Technician program. Therefore, we have listed the common questions you should consider before finalizing your choice:

1) Has the Certified Psychiatric Technician program been ACCREDITED by the BVNPT?

One (1) of the methods in which you CAN become ELIGIBLE for the California Psychiatric Technician Licensure Examination is to graduate from an accredited Psychiatric Technician training program in the STATE of California. If you choose to take this ROUTE, it is ESSENTIAL the program/training you ATTEND has been recognized by the STATE of CALIFORNIA since this will ensure NO roadblocks are in your way from obtaining your certification. Not only that, but the programs have also been STRUCTURED to provide a strong foundation for you to comfortably transition from a student to an employee working in the healthcare industry.

You can view the recognized programs directory here – the Psychiatric Technician Certification Board accredited programs.

2) Will the ACCREDITED Psychiatric Technician program offer opportunities to transition into other progressive roles or further education? How about work opportunities?

As a Psychiatric Technician, you will be working in an industry with enormous growth and opportunities. For you to have the highest possible chances of transitioning into other areas as a Psychiatric Technician, it is wise to choose a program that offers additional resources to help you on your journey. For example, ask yourself – will the school provide you with job assistance or even the ability to transition into other roles through advanced education? As you have read in the “Career Paths” section, you will have the opportunity to certify in other areas after obtaining your initial certification. With that said,

We recommend enrolling in a program that NOT only offers a quality education but is also one that is affiliated with institutions that can provide a platform for potential employment opportunities. Through these affiliations, you will have less pressure on having to find employment independently.

3) Are there any applicable student reviews/ratings about the ACCREDITED Psychiatric Technician Program Being Offered?

Before finalizing your training program choice, we recommend performing your due diligence to find out more about the ACCREDITED Psychiatric Technician school you plan to attend. We encourage you to conduct research and even visit the campus before accepting any offer to attend. By reading reviews and visiting the campus, you will understand more about the quality of education the program offers and how it will help you EXCEL in your profession. At the same time, it’s ESSENTIAL to speak to current students enrolled in the program to get their perspective on the training and the pros/cons.

4) What is the LENGTH of the Psychiatric Technician program? Full-time, Part-time, or Online?

You MAY have responsibilities that require your attention throughout the week and interfere with your training/education. For example, some of you MAY be working or have personal responsibilities to attend to, so it is ESSENTIAL to find a Psychiatric Technician training program with a flexible schedule. We recommend before finalizing your choice, you take some time to think about your responsibilities and how much time you can devote to your training. The good news is some Psychiatric Technician training programs MAY offer both full-time and part-time schedules to help those students who have to balance personal, work, and educational responsibilities. With that said,

Another critical point to note is that choosing a part-time program MAY increase the pace at which the training is provided by compressing the curriculum into a shorter period. This learning style MAY NOT be suitable to you and MAYBE too fast, lowering the OVERALL value you gain from the program itself. In this case, a FULL-TIME program may be a better option.


Search Psychiatric Technician Jobs In Your Area



Additional Resources

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician – A Complete Guide
How to Become A Security Guard – A Complete Guide
How to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician – A Complete Guide
How to Become a Phlebotomist – A Complete Guide
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant – A Complete Guide
How To Become A Respiratory Therapist – A Complete Guide
How to Become a Massage Therapist – A Complete Guide

 



Author: careercrawlers

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