Behavioral Health Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a behavioral health technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about the job duties and certification options to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Behavioral health technicians or psychiatric technicians help doctors and nurses by carrying out treatment plans for people with behavioral problems. These professionals usually hold either a certificate or an associate's degree in mental health technology or psychiatric technology. Licensure or certification is sometimes required.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in psychiatric or mental health technology, in addition to on-the-job training
Additional Requirements Licensure is occasionally required; certification is voluntary but preferred by some employers
Projected Job Growth (Psychiatric Technicians and Aides) 4% from 2012-2022*
Median Annual Salary (May 2013) (Psychiatric Technicians) $29,880*

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

A behavioral health technician helps doctors and nurses with the treatment of patients who have various behavioral problems, such as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental instability and physical and emotional abuse. These professionals often work in hospitals, shelters and mental health facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), behavioral health technicians, also called psychiatric technicians, earned a median annual salary of $29,880 as of May 2013. Job growth for these technicians is expected to be below average, with a projected increase of 4% from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS.

Duties

A behavioral health technician is expected to understand and implement individual treatment plans, record patient behavior and provide a safe, supportive environment for the patients. Technicians may provide and record patient medications and assisting in daily activities.

Requirements

Education

Behavioral health technicians can find a job without a bachelor's degree if they have four years of experience working in the mental health field. Candidates with an associate's degree in a field related to behavioral health, such as psychology or substance abuse counseling, needs only two years experience. Candidates with a bachelor's degree can earn a position with only one-year of experience in the mental health profession. A candidate with a master's degree in a behavioral science can be hired directly out of college. Students can also often find internships while in the university to help gain experience. All degree ranges will receive extensive on-the-job training.

Certification

A variety of organizations provide certification for behavioral health technicians and many employers require certification either before, or as soon as possible after, hiring. Certification insures the candidate is aware and understands all state laws regarding patients' rights and the consequences for breaking those laws.

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