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Psychiatric Aides

At a Glance

  • Care for patients who are mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed
  • Work in hospitals or institutions
  • Work with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, and social workers
  • May work days, evenings, or weekends
  • Often wear a uniform
  • Most train on the job

Career summary

Psychiatric aides care for patients with mental disorders and developmental disabilities.

#No alternate titles

Psychiatric aides work in hospitals and institutions. They care for patients who are mentally impaired or developmentally disabled. Some work with patients in rehabilitation for drugs or alcohol.

Psychiatric aides provide patients with basic care. For example, psychiatric aides help patients eat, dress, and bathe. They maintain daily records of the physical condition of their patients.

Aides also lead patients in educational and recreational activities. Activities include playing games and watching television. Sometimes they play sports or go on field trips.

Aides also accompany patients to and from examinations and treatments. Aides make sure patients stay in assigned areas. Sometimes they restrain patients to prevent injuries.

In some facilities aides change bed linens and perform other basic cleaning tasks.

Because psychiatric aides spend a lot of time with patients, they are often the first to notice changes in their behavior. Aides report these changes to doctors. Aides work on teams with psychiatrists and psychologists. Nurses, social workers, and therapists may also be part of their teams.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to psychiatric aides.

Common work activities

Psychiatric aides perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, psychiatric aides:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Psychiatric aides frequently:

It is important for psychiatric aides to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for psychiatric aides to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Psychiatric aides need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a psychiatric aide, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Some states require that psychiatric aides complete a formal training program. Programs are available through professional-technical schools and two-year colleges.

Work experience

Working or volunteering in a hospital provides good experience for this occupation.

On-the-job training

Most psychiatric aides learn their skills on the job from experienced workers. You may spend up to one month in training. During training, you learn how to:

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many employers prefer workers who have a high school education. However, it is usually not required. Many aides work first as a nursing assistant, and then receive additional on-the-job training helping patients with emotional problems.

Employers look for applicants who are patient, helpful, and dependable. Good communication skills and a desire to help people are also important.


Volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, or other health care facilities.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.

Psychiatric aides (SOC 31-1013)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $11.96 $13.20 $15.35 $18.65 $23.06
Monthly $2,073 $2,288 $2,660 $3,232 $3,996
Yearly $24,870 $27,450 $31,930 $38,790 $47,960
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $12.20 $13.23 $15.64 $19.13 $22.57
Monthly $2,114 $2,293 $2,710 $3,315 $3,911
Yearly $25,378 $27,527 $32,522 $39,810 $46,957
    Vancouver Hourly $16.30 $16.82 $20.01 $23.01 $25.46
Monthly $2,825 $2,915 $3,468 $3,988 $4,412
Yearly $33,901 $34,990 $41,618 $47,844 $52,964
United States Hourly $9.53 $11.28 $14.03 $17.90 $22.35
Monthly $1,652 $1,955 $2,431 $3,102 $3,873
Yearly $19,830 $23,470 $29,180 $37,230 $46,490

Wages vary by employer and the aide's level of experience. Aides who work night and weekend shifts may receive higher pay.

Full-time aides in hospitals generally receive one week's paid vacation after one year of service. They may also receive paid holidays, sick leave, and health and life insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Psychiatric Aides (SOC 31-1013)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 68 27.9% 16.1% 12
    King County 28 25.0% 19.6% 5
    Pierce County 11 18.2% 15.2% 1
    Spokane County 17 11.8% 13.9% 2
United States 61,600 11.2% 5.2% 8,000

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand will grow steadily for this occupation. Most job growth will be in residential mental health facilities and in home health care agencies. There is a long-term trend toward treating mental health patients outside of hospitals. This is because it costs less and allows patients to live more normal lives. Demand for psychiatric aides in residential facilities will rise in response to growth in the number of older persons. New federal health care laws will make mental health care available to more people.

Many jobs will open as workers leave this occupation. The turnover rate is high because of the low wages and lack of advancement opportunities.

Other resources


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters