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Psychiatric Technicians

At a Glance

  • Provide nursing, psychiatric, and personal care for patients
  • Keep records, fill out forms, and other administrative tasks
  • Work with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, and social workers
  • May work days, evenings, or weekends
  • Often wear a uniform
  • Usually train through one- or two-year programs

Career summary

Psychiatric technicians assist in the care and treatment of patients who are mentally ill or have developmental disabilities.

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Psychiatric technicians provide nursing, psychiatric, and personal care for patients. Some work with patients who are developmentally disabled and others work with people in rehabilitation for drugs or alcohol.

Technicians help to admit new patients. They interview new patients and their families in order to assess the patient's mental status. They also ask about previous mental health treatments.

Psychiatric technicians monitor patients and write reports about their behavior. They check patients' temperature, respiration, and pulse. They also give prescribed medications. Technicians keep daily records of the physical condition of patients. Technicians may lead group counseling sessions.

Technicians assist patients with personal cleanliness. For example, they help patients clean their rooms, bathe, and dress. They teach patients basic living and working skills. They encourage them to develop social relationships and to participate in recreational activities. Occasionally technicians must restrain patients who are violent.

Psychiatric technicians work on a mental health team with doctors and psychologists. Nurses, social workers, and therapists are also part of the team. Psychiatric technicians may be called mental health technicians.

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 technicians.

Common work activities

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

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, psychiatric technicians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Psychiatric technicians frequently:

It is important for psychiatric technicians to be able to:

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

Skills and abilities

Psychiatric technicians 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 technician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Many psychiatric technicians learn their skills through a formal training program. Professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer these programs. In this type of program, you earn a certificate or an associate degree. You learn about the nature of mental illness, human development, and personality structure. You also study anatomy, physiology, and basic nursing care.

Work experience

Psychiatric technicians typically need clinical experience. You can gain experience by working as a nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse.

On-the-job training

Beginning psychiatric technicians learn additional skills on the job from experienced workers. You may spend up to one month in training.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be medical care technicians. Training lasts seven to 52 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

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

Some employers will hire workers who have only a high school diploma. However, most prefer applicants who have one to two years of training beyond high school. Employers value workers who have a strong desire to help others, patience, and understanding.


Experience in patient care is very important. Working as an technician will provide an insight into job duties, responsibilities, and drawbacks. Experience can also be gained through volunteer work in nursing homes or other health care facilities. Computer skills are increasingly important.

Costs to workers

Expenses include uniforms, reference books, and educational services. Some workers pay dues for professional association or union membership.

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 technicians (SOC 29-2053)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $15.33 $16.98 $19.60 $22.50 $24.27
Monthly $2,657 $2,943 $3,397 $3,899 $4,206
Yearly $31,890 $35,320 $40,760 $46,800 $50,490
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $15.62 $17.21 $19.74 $22.75 $24.58
Monthly $2,707 $2,982 $3,421 $3,943 $4,260
Yearly $32,490 $35,812 $41,044 $47,316 $51,135
    Vancouver Hourly $12.52 $13.34 $14.70 $23.22 $27.88
Monthly $2,170 $2,312 $2,548 $4,024 $4,832
Yearly $26,043 $27,741 $30,569 $48,283 $57,975
United States Hourly $10.96 $12.95 $15.80 $21.00 $30.98
Monthly $1,899 $2,244 $2,738 $3,639 $5,369
Yearly $22,800 $26,940 $32,870 $43,680 $64,430

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

Technicians who work full time usually receive benefits. Common benefits include paid vacations, sick leave, and health 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 Technicians (SOC 29-2053)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 1,081 42.8% 16.1% 194
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 11 27.3% 14.6% 1
    King County 349 33.0% 19.6% 54
    Pierce County 558 45.7% 15.2% 103
    Snohomish County 10 90.0% 12.4% 3
    Spokane County 140 27.1% 13.9% 19
United States 76,600 12.4% 5.2% 7,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand will grow faster than average 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 technicians in residential facilities will rise in response to an increase in the aging population. 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 occupation

Holland occupational clusters