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Career profile Psychiatric Technician

Also known as Behavioral Health Technician, Health Care Technician, Licensed Psychiatric Technician (LPT), Mental Health Assistant (MHA), Mental Health Associate, Mental Health Specialist, Mental Health Technician (MHT), Mental Health Worker, Psychiatric Technician (PT), Residential Aide (RA)

Psychiatric Technician

Also known as Behavioral Health Technician, Health Care Technician, Licensed Psychiatric Technician (LPT)

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$24,960 - $59,020 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Psychology
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Take and record measures of patients' physical condition, using devices such as thermometers or blood pressure gauges.
  • Monitor patients' physical and emotional well-being and report unusual behavior or physical ailments to medical staff.
  • Provide nursing, psychiatric, or personal care to mentally ill, emotionally disturbed, or mentally retarded patients.
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What does a Psychiatric Technician do?

Psychiatric Technicians care for individuals with mental or emotional conditions or disabilities, following the instructions of physicians or other health practitioners.

In addition, Psychiatric Technicians

  • monitor 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 or injectable medications.

What kind of tasks does a Psychiatric Technician perform regularly?

Psychiatric Technicians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Take and record measures of patients' physical condition, using devices such as thermometers or blood pressure gauges.
  • Monitor patients' physical and emotional well-being and report unusual behavior or physical ailments to medical staff.
  • Provide nursing, psychiatric, or personal care to mentally ill, emotionally disturbed, or mentally retarded patients.
  • Observe and influence patients' behavior, communicating and interacting with them and teaching, counseling, or befriending them.
  • Collaborate with or assist doctors, psychologists, or rehabilitation therapists in working with mentally ill, emotionally disturbed, or developmentally disabled patients to treat, rehabilitate, and return patients to the community.
  • Encourage patients to develop work skills and to participate in social, recreational, or other therapeutic activities that enhance interpersonal skills or develop social relationships.
  • Restrain violent, potentially violent, or suicidal patients by verbal or physical means as required.
  • Train or instruct new employees on procedures to follow with psychiatric patients.
  • Develop or teach strategies to promote client wellness and independence.

The above responsibilities are specific to Psychiatric Technicians. More generally, Psychiatric Technicians are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Psychiatric Technician salary?

The median salary for a Psychiatric Technician is $35,030, and the average salary is $38,080. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Psychiatric Technician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Psychiatric Technicians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Psychiatric Technicians earn less than $24,960 per year, 25% earn less than $28,660, 75% earn less than $44,020, and 90% earn less than $59,020.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Psychiatric Technicians is expected to change by 12.8%, and there should be roughly 8,000 open positions for Psychiatric Technicians every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$24,960 - $59,020
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Psychiatric Technicians?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Psychiatric Technician are usually higher in their Social interests.

Psychiatric Technicians typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Psychiatric Technician tend to value Relationships, Support, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Psychiatric Technicians very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Psychiatric Technicians strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Psychiatric Technicians moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Psychiatric Technicians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, stress tolerance, and adaptability/flexibility.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Psychiatric Technicians, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

What education and training do Psychiatric Technicians need?

Psychiatric Technicians often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Psychiatric Technicians usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Psychiatric Technicians

  • 0.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 14.8% completed high school or secondary school
  • 29.1% completed some college coursework
  • 12.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 33.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 8.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Psychiatric Technicians

Psychiatric Technicians may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as psychology, therapy and counseling, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Psychiatric Technicians might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Important Abilities needed by Psychiatric Technicians

Psychiatric Technicians must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Psychiatric Technicians need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Psychiatric Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Psychiatric Technicians

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Psychiatric Technicians frequently use skills like social perceptiveness, speaking, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Psychiatric Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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