Psychiatric Nurses


Employment Prospects


The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) has more than 10,000 members. Psychiatric nurses are employed in hospitals, psychiatric and mental health facilities, in doctors' offices, in correctional institutions, in nursing homes, in shelters, and in group homes.

Starting Out

Psychiatric nurses must usually work as registered nurses before they can specialize in psychiatric nursing. To become a registered nurse, they must complete one of the three kinds of educational programs and pass the licensing examination. Registered nurses may apply for employment directly to hospitals, nursing homes, and companies and government agencies that hire nurses. Jobs can also be obtained through school career services offices, by signing up with employment agencies specializing in placement of nursing personnel, or through the state employment office. Other sources of jobs include nurses' associations, professional journals, and newspaper want ads.

Advancement Prospects

Administrative and supervisory positions in the nursing field go to nurses who have earned at least a bachelor of science degree in nursing. Nurses with many years of experience who are graduates of the diploma program may achieve supervisory positions, but requirements for such promotions have become more difficult in recent years and in many cases require at least a bachelor of science in nursing degree. Psychiatric registered nurses can pursue graduate degrees in nursing to move up to the position of advanced practice psychiatric nurse. 

Tips for Entry

Read the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association ( to learn more about the field.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:


Join the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and other organizations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.

Those interested in positions with the federal government should visit the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Web site,