Working As A Behavioral Health Technician

The behavioral health technician works with the mentally ill. In some positions, they will also work with those who are developmentally disabled. The duties of this position are to administer medication, conduct recreational and therapeutic activities, and monitor the patients’ vital signs. The position requires, at least, a high school education and usually a postsecondary certificate. Most hands-on training is accomplished after starting the position and the median salary is around $32,000.


The duties of this position are to follow the care directions from the physicians or other medical providers. This position may also be called a mental health technician or a psychiatric technician. Individuals in this position will interact frequently with the patients. The technician may assist the patients with housekeeping, personal grooming, or recreational activities. The technician also helps to create and then implement treatment programs, working in partnership with the other medical providers. Technicians also give medications to the patients. These may be administered either by injection or orally. Technicians are also responsible for monitoring the physical and emotional health of the patients. If anything abnormal is observed, the technician relays this information to the appropriate medical staff. If patients become violent or suicidal, technicians may be called upon to help subdue the patient.

There are many different places a technician may be employed. A technician can work in general hospitals within the psychiatric units, at mental health hospitals, in detention centers, at residential treatment facilities, at drug and alcohol treatment centers and programs, in the military and within schools.

Education Requirements

Within the United States, educational requirements for these types of technicians are set by the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT). Technicians may have a bachelor’s degree or a certificate from a secondary institute. The entry level job for this type of position is a psychiatric aide which requires less formal education. Within the U.S. it is estimated that about 38 percent have a bachelor’s degree, 35 percent have a high school diploma or a GED, and the rest attended, but did not finish college.

Licensing and Certification

Most states have no requirement for individuals serving in this position to be licensed, although they may obtain credentials from the AAPT as a Nationally Certified Psychiatric Technician. There are four levels of certification awarded by the AAPT. To be eligible for the first level, an individual must have at least a GED. To earn the second level, they must have earned at least 480 hours of college credit and have at least one year experience working in the developmental disabilities or mental health fields. To earn the third level, an individual must have at least 960 hours of college credit and two years working experience. For the fourth level, the individual must have earned a bachelor’s degree in either developmental disabilities or mental health and at least three years of work experience in either of the fields.

Behavioral health technicians or psychiatric technicians can look forward to a growing field, with a predicted 5 percent increase in new jobs. With the proper education and training, individuals in these jobs can earn a good living and find work.