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Psychiatric Technician Certification and Certificate Program Overview

Psychiatric technicians work under the supervision of psychiatrists, mental health nurses and registered nurses to provide direct patient care to mentally or emotionally disabled individuals. Certification programs are most commonly offered through health science departments of community colleges and technical schools.

Essential Information

A Psychiatric Technology Certificate program is just one of a few undergraduate options available to those who want to become psychiatric technicians. Focusing on behavioral science and counseling methods, such programs take about one year to complete.

Although a few states require that psychiatric technicians become licensed, most states do not have such a stipulation. Most require that trained and experienced individuals have certification. Certification is available through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians at four different levels.

  • Some Psychiatric Technician Certification Program Fields: Sociology, anthropology, personality, psychology.
  • Prerequisites: Many colleges offering certificate programs in psychiatric technology require that high school graduates and incoming students complete some college-level prerequisite courses in order to gain admission. These most commonly include introductory psychology, college mathematics, college writing and human anatomy courses.

Certificate in Psychiatric Technology

Students in a Psychiatric Technology Certificate program learn about various mental illnesses they can expect to encounter in the profession. They also learn basic concepts of providing patient care for the mentally ill as well as general counseling techniques. Specific course examples include the following:

  • Foundations of psychiatric technology
  • Nursing science and psychiatric technology
  • Behavioral science
  • General psychology
  • Counseling techniques

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

There were roughly 64,540 psychiatric technicians employed in the United States in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Also in the year 2014, these workers earned a median annual salary of $31,130. The BLS projected a slower-than-average growth of 5%, from 2012-2022.

Certification Options

There are only a handful of states that require psychiatric technicians to gain licensure before practicing, including Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado and California. The other 46 U.S. states don't require psychiatric technicians to be licensed but do require certification. The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (www.psychtechs.org) offers certification options for trained individuals. There are four different certification levels available, depending upon a candidate's educational background and experience in the field.

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