Career Paths

Career Paths 2017-10-25T23:31:30+00:00

What is a Psychiatric Technician?

aapt healthcare quality imagePsychiatric Technicians are mental health employees who provide hands-on care to people with varying degrees of mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities. They perform a vital, front-line function in all healthcare settings as they observe, treat and interact with patients — often more than any other staff.

They carry out doctors’ orders, serving as the eyes, ears and hands of the diagnosing professional. They report back on how the treatment is working or any unusual symptoms that need professional attention.

At the entry level, they help patients with personal grooming and other activities of daily living. They also help conduct educational, recreational and therapeutic activities. Often the level is called Psychiatric Aide.

At a higher level, Psychiatric Technicians have more formal training than aides. They take part in both the planning and implementing of patient treatment plans. They may be responsible for admitting and interviewing patients, record-keeping, administering medications or assisting in it, and conducting therapy sessions.

At all levels, Psychiatric Technicians need good observation skills. Important personal characteristics include a stable personality, ability to work well with people and a true motivation to help others.

Skills and Duties

Depending on the needs and preferences of the employer, Psychiatric Technicians perform duties — or assist in their performance — in one or more of the following areas:

  • Patient Assessment

  • Therapeutic Activities

  • Treatment Plan Development

  • Basic Nursing

  • Medication Administration

  • Documentation

  • Addictive Dissorders

  • Treatment Plan Implementation

  • Group Process

  • Treatment Evaluation

  • Patient / Family Education

  • Geriatric Care

Federal Occupational Description

Following is the way the job of Psychiatric Technician is described in the federal government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. This system replaces the federal Dictionary of Occupational Titles. SOC data is available through the user-friendly Occupational Information Network (O*NET) at

Psychiatric Technician
SOC Code Number 29.2053

Cares for mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed individuals, following physician instructions and hospital procedures. Monitors patients’ physical and emotional well-being and report to medical staff. May participate in rehabilitation and treatment programs, help with personal hygiene and administer oral medications and hypodermic injections. See the Psychiatric Technician Code of Ethics

Interdisciplinary Team Status

The more highly trained Psychiatric Technicians are often considered “paraprofessionals” while others are described by such terms as “entry-level” staff. Both descriptions contract with the “professional” status of other interdisciplinary team members such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and registered nurses — as well as licensed Psychiatric Technicians in those states that license them.

But regardless of status, Psychiatric Technicians work side-by-side with professionals as recognized, valuable members of the ID team.

Work Environment

Psychiatric Technicians generally work a 40-hour week. Because patients/clients need care 24 hours a day, scheduled work hours may include nights, weekends and holidays. They spend most of their time on their feet. They are sometimes confronted with violent patients who must be restrained. This may be emotionally draining, but they may also gain satisfaction from assisting those in need.


Additional training is required for significant advancement. Some become licensed Psychiatric Technicians in states that license them. Others become practical nurses or registered nurses. And many pursue college degrees in nursing, special education, social work, psychology, sociology or related fields.