Psychiatric technicians care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Technicians typically provide therapeutic care. Psychiatric technicians work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and related healthcare settings. They may spend much of their shift on their feet, and they have a relatively high rate of injury.
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Psychiatric technicians typically do the following:
Many psychiatric technicians work with patients who are severely developmentally disabled and need intensive care. Others work with patients undergoing rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. Their work varies depending on the types of patients they work with.
Psychiatric technicians work as part of a medical team, under the direction of physicians and alongside other healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, and therapists. Because they have such close contact with patients, psychiatric technicians can have a great deal of influence on patients' outlook and treatment.
Psychiatric technicians typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary certificate. Programs in psychiatric or mental health technology are commonly offered by community colleges and technical schools. Psychiatric technician programs include courses in biology, psychology, and counselling. The programs also may include supervised work experience or cooperative programs, in which students gain academic credit for structured work experience.
Programs for psychiatric technicians range in length from one semester to two years, and they may award a certificate or an associate’s degree. They typically must participate in on-the-job training before they can work without direct supervision. This training may last for a few weeks or for several months. Training may include gaining hands-on experience while working under the supervision of an experienced technician or aide. Technicians may also attend workshops, lectures, or in-service training.
Psychiatric technicians work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and related healthcare settings, such as drug or alcohol treatment centers. They may spend much of their shift on their feet. Some of the work that psychiatric aides do may be unpleasant. They may care for patients whose illnesses make them disoriented, uncooperative, or violent.
The median annual wage of psychiatric technicians was $28,710 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $18,420, and the top 10% earned more than $50,430.
Psychiatric technicians may work full time or part time. Because hospitals and residential facilities are open at all hours, many work nights, weekends, and holidays.