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Mental Health Technician Education Requirements and Career Information

Majors Overview February 5, 2013

Mental health technicians who are also referred to as psychiatric aides and mental health assistants are supervised by counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists when they provide care services to mentally ill and emotionally disturbed patients. An associate degree or certificate in the field is usually held by mental health technicians.

Mental Health Technicians Career Information

Schools for the mentally retarded, residential mental health institutions, nursing homes and private and public psychiatric hospitals are the most common employers of mental health technicians. Job growth for nursing and psychiatric aide positions has been projected to be around six percent during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics – www.bls.gov). The estimate is based on expectations that an increasing number of senior citizens could need mental health care, also taking into account the current trend of not treating psychiatric patients within a hospital setting in order to reduce costs. Thus, this has had the effect of reducing the projected number of jobs for mental health technicians. Mental health technicians who do not have over a year of work experience earn an average annual salary of approximately $30,000 (source: Payscale.com).

Mental Health Technicians Education Requirements

Employers sometimes train and hire applicants who possess a high school diploma. Therefore, high school students who wants to pursue a career as mental health technicians needs to study sociology, biology, anatomy and psychology, and gain experience with regard to mental health technology by performing voluntary work in mental health facilities. Most businesses prefer to employ candidates who have completed an associate degree or certificate program specializing in mental health technology, certified nursing assistant or any other related field. Aspiring mental health technicians are required to have good observation and interpersonal skills.

Mental Health Technician Curriculum

Coursework in mental health technology academic programs typically includes courses in group dynamics, substance abuse, human development, crisis intervention and psychology. Students are taught about assisting patients with personal needs including hygiene, documenting treatments and coordinating mental health services. Graduate training programs impart advanced instruction to mental health technicians with respect to coordination, assessment and treatment of patients. Coursework in both certificate and graduate degree programs usually include internship programs administered in mental health care facilities.

Mental Health Technician Training Programs

Employees can receive different types of training depending on the employer that could include classroom lectures. Majority of businesses offer tuition reimbursement and encourage mental health technicians to use the program to obtain diplomas, degrees, and certificates. Several vocational high schools offer mental health technicians career training program.

Certification Requirements for Mental Health Technicians

Employers and most states do not expect mental health technicians to obtain certification.
Very few states, including California, Arkansas, Colorado and Kansas, expect psychiatric technicians to take the certification examination that the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT) administers. Mental health technicians who wants a competitive edge and brighter career prospect should pass the AAPT examination.

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