How Long Does It Take To Become A Psychiatric Technician?

psychiatric technician

Psychiatric technicians provide therapeutic care for patients suffering from mental issues. This includes people with mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and developmental delays. It’s a rewarding field. However, it takes time to become one.

Exactly how long does it take to become a psychiatric technician? We’ll answer this along with other key aspects of how to become a psychiatric technician.

What is a Psychiatric Technician?

Psychiatric technicians provide therapeutic care for people dealing with various mental health issues. They work alongside psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nurses. They focus on people dealing with mental disabilities, illnesses, or substance abuse.  

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These professionals perform various roles in the mental health field. They provide patient support, monitor daily activities, and assist in crisis intervention, advocacy, and education.

However, unlike psychiatrists, techs are not allowed to decide on a patient’s treatment approach. Instead, their approach reflects the philosophy of the facility they work for.

Education and Training Requirements

You can enter the field with a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s in psychiatric technician degree.

Psychiatric tech training involves coursework in counseling, biology, and mental health. You’ll also complete a training supervised by an experienced psychiatric tech. The hands-on component of the curriculum is designed to enhance your clinical skills and confidence.

So, what degree do you need to be a psychiatric technician? The answer depends on the requirements of the institution or region you’re aiming to work in.

Most US states do not require psychiatric techs to be licensed. However, some states, including California and Texas, require licensure to work professionally.

But even if your state doesn’t require licensing or certification, an additional credential won’t hurt. In fact, it may increase your job prospects. If you want to gain additional credentials, you can pursue a certificate from the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT).

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatric Technician?

The exact length of time it takes to become a psychiatric tech depends on the educational path you pursue.

Associate in psychiatric technician education requirements typically last two years of full-time study. However, some programs may offer an accelerated course format that allows you to graduate in as few as 1.5 years. On the other hand, a postsecondary certificate program only takes up to a year.

Another factor that affects the length of how to become a licensed psychiatric technician is state requirements. As mentioned, some states require professionals to get licensed or certified. For this, you’ll need to factor in the time it takes to prepare for and pass the exam.

Some psychiatric techs took longer to practice the profession because they’re from other paths. Some psych techs have experience as nursing assistants or LPNs. Although this is not required, it can boost application credibility.

College Education Value for Psychiatric Technicians

A degree is not just a credential on how to become a psych tech. It’s the only way you can truly start to learn how to understand and care for this vulnerable population. The psychiatric technician degree requirements focus on equipping you with unique psychiatric care skills.

A degree will also help you grow professionally. You can pursue an advanced degree in psychology or other relevant mental healthcare field to deepen your understanding and expand your career opportunities. Professionals with advanced degrees earn more than those with only a certificate and associate degree.

Tuition Paying Tips and Financial Aid Opportunities

Associate degree students can usually get financial aid. Yet, it’s rare for certificate program students to receive any. Because these programs are more affordable, they don’t receive much funding.

Still, here are practical tuition-paying tips for a more affordable learning experience:

  1. File your FAFSA. You can obtain federal financial aid if you enroll in an accredited institution.
  2. Choose a community college. Some four-year degrees offer associate and postsecondary certifications in psychiatric tech. However, they’re much more expensive than local community colleges.
  3. Apply for external scholarships. You’ll be surprised how many organizations offer scholarship opportunities for all student levels. For instance, Unigo offers many scholarships with different requirements, such as Make Me Laugh, No Essay, and I Have A Dream.

Career Advancement and Opportunities

Psychiatric tech is not a dead-end job. These professionals have a lot of room to grow.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in your relevant field is an excellent first step for career advancement. Among the most popular majors include psychology, counseling, and nursing. These programs will open up a myriad of high-paying careers.

You can also pursue specialized certificates that will boost your current skill level. Some of the top certificate programs include Basic Life Support (BLS), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and Certified Nurse Technician (CNT) certifications.

Success Stories: Psychiatric Technicians in Action

Making Smiles Bloom

Tim, a Mental Health Technician at the Children’s Psychiatric Center, works with children aged 9-14. Tim’s focus has helped many kids overcome mental health issues with the collaboration of other professionals. According to Time, his favorite part of the job is watching a kid smile and just be a kid.

Raising Voices

Dominique Castro has been passionate about mental health since age 15. Despite challenges, her dedication to compassionate care at a Florida facility demonstrates empathy and respect for patients. She advocates for systemic change, raising awareness about the importance of mental health care.

She said, ” I will not stop raising my voice until our country’s Mental Health Care is taken seriously.”


There are a lot of individuals dealing with mental disabilities, illnesses, or substance abuse that need compassionate patient care. Psychiatric tech is one of the most rewarding fields you can get into today. It provides job stability, shorter training periods, and the chance to impact patients’ lives positively.

The field doesn’t require many credentials other than a certificate or associate-level psychiatric technician training. Psychiatric aide requirements take only one to two years to complete. It means you have more time to pursue other credentials.

Although not required, it is advised to pursue more credentials, such as certifications or advanced degrees. This step will increase your earning potential and enhance your patient care abilities.