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Psychiatric Technician Certification and Certificate Program Overview

Examine certificate programs and certification options for the aspiring psychiatric technician. Continue reading for prerequisites, coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

Psychiatric technicians work under the direct supervision of psychiatrists, mental health nurses and registered nurses to provide direct patient care to mentally or emotionally disabled individuals. A Psychiatric Technology Certificate program is just one of a few undergraduate options available to those who want to become psychiatric technicians. They are most commonly offered through the health science departments of community colleges and technical schools.

Focusing on behavioral science and counseling methods, such programs take about one year to complete. Although psychiatric technicians must obtain licenses in a few states, most states do not have such requirements. This vast majority instead require certifications of trained and experienced individuals. These certifications are available through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians at four different levels.

Education 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.

Program Coursework

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

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

There were roughly 67,760 psychiatric technicians employed in the United States in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Also in the year 2012, these workers earned a median annual salary of $30,050.

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, and therefore do require that they gain certification in the field. The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians ( 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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