California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Psychiatric Technicians in California

May also be called: Behavioral Health Technicians; Mental Health Technicians (MHT)

What Would I Do?

Psychiatric Technicians care for mentally impaired, emotionally disturbed, and developmentally disabled individuals by following physician instructions and hospital procedures. Important duties include monitoring patients' physical and emotional well-being and reporting to the medical staff. Psychiatric Technicians may assist clients in rehabilitation and treatment programs, help with personal hygiene, and administer oral medications and hypodermic injections.

Psychiatric Technicians work in a variety of settings including psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, residential and outpatient facilities, and offices of physicians. The work setting is generally indoors, clean, and comfortable. However, Psychiatric Technicians who work with patients in the individual's home may encounter varied conditions.

Psychiatric Technicians work full time and part time. Full-time schedules are usually based on a 40-hour workweek. Evening and night shifts as well as weekend and holiday hours are available because patients often need around-the-clock care.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Psychiatric Technician will appeal to those who enjoy helping people who are mentally or emotionally ill or developmentally disabled. People who take pleasure assisting others in learning new skills for wellness, independence, self care, and employment may find this job satisfying.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The wages below reflect a pay differential for night shifts and overtime after eight hours.

The median wage in 2016 for Psychiatric Technicians in California is $59,865 annually, or $28.78 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefit packages may include medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as retirement plans, vacation, holidays, and sick leave. Some employers may offer tuition reimbursement for education.

What is the Job Outlook?

A growing, older population requiring increased mental health care for illnesses such as dementia and related diseases will contribute to employment growth for Psychiatric Technicians. In addition, prison reform has contributed to the use of Psychiatric Technicians to care for inmates resulting in employment opportunities in this area.

How Do I Qualify?

Psychiatric Technicians must be licensed to practice in California. The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians administers the licensing examination. Training typically takes 18 to 24 months. Education requires course work and clinical experience typically resulting in an associate degree. Fingerprint clearance must be obtained.

Finding a Job

Direct applications to employers, such as psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, remain one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Check with the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians about hiring opportunities. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Psychiatric Technicians