Psychiatric Technicians


Employment Prospects


Psychiatric technicians work in a variety of settings: the military, hospitals, mental hospitals, community mental health centers, psychiatric clinics, schools and day centers for the developmentally disabled, and social service agencies. They also work at residential and nonresidential centers, such as geriatric nursing homes, child or adolescent development centers, and halfway houses.

Other potential places of employment for psychiatric technicians include correctional programs and juvenile courts, schools for the blind and deaf, community action programs, family service centers, and public housing programs. Approximately 78,470 psychiatric technicians are employed in the United States.

Starting Out

Graduates from mental health and human services technology programs can usually choose from a variety of job possibilities. College career services offices can be extremely helpful in locating employment. Students can follow want ads or apply directly to the clinics, agencies, or hospitals of their choice. Job information can also be obtained from each state's department of mental health.

Advancement Prospects

Working as a psychiatric technician is still a relatively new occupation, and sequences of promotions have not yet been clearly defined. Seeking national certification through the AAPT is one way to help to set up a career path in this field. Advancement normally takes the form of being given greater responsibilities with less supervision. It usually results from gaining experience, developing competence and leadership abilities, and continuing formal and practical education. In cases where promotions are governed by civil service regulations, advancement is based on experience and test scores on promotion examinations.

In large part, advancement is linked to gaining further education. Thus, after working a few years, technicians may decide to obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology. Advanced education, coupled with previous training and work experience, greatly enhances advancement potential. For instance, with a bachelor's degree, experienced technicians may be able to find rewarding positions as instructors in programs to train future mental health workers. 

Tips for Entry

Visit for job listings.

Work as a volunteer or administrative worker at a mental health facility to obtain introductory experience and make networking contacts.

Talk to psychiatric technicians about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.