What is a Psychiatric Technician

Psychiatric technician is a healthcare provider responsible for taking care of patients who have mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities. Working alongside of psychiatrists, nurses or other healthcare practitioners, they provide therapeutic care and help in treating mental illness, as well as aiding the patient in their daily activities. For information on job duties, please visit our psychiatric technician job description page.

Work Environment

Psychiatric technicians work in various mental health facilities, including psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and even county or state prisons. The work can be challenging and unpredictable, depending on the patient worked with and the severity of the mental illnesses encountered, however these factors also make it a rewarding career.

Much of the shift is spent on one’s feet, performing various tasks. Due to the challenging and, at times, dangerous nature of the job, there is a higher-than-average incidence of illness and injury among psychiatric technicians.

Work Schedule

Psychiatric technicians can expect to work a 40-hour work week, however the nature of the work itself make these forty hours atypical; because patients can require care 24 hours a day, a psychiatric technician may be required to work evenings, weekends, or holidays. As well, occasional emergency situations may require overtime hours.

Mean Annual Psychiatric Technician Salary

The average annual psychiatric technician salary is $33,140. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $20,550 and the top 10% makes over $52,980.

Psychiatric Technician Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$33,140 per year
$15.93 per hour
Top 10% Salary$52,980 per year
$25.47 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$20,550 per year
$9.88 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201267,760

Psychiatric Technician Job Outlook and Prospects

As people age, their mental and cognitive abilities tend to slow. As such, the aging population will create some increased need for psychiatric techs, however this need is not expected to lead to great growth; indeed, the position is anticipated to grow by only 5 percent between 2012 and 2022, much below the average for all occupations.

That being said, there are many employed in this field at the moment; just over 67,000. This five percent growth will translate into approximately 3,300 new jobs. While not as exceptional a growth rate as some other health care careers, there is a good deal of promise in the job outlook.

Psychiatric Technician Salary: Factors of Influence

The average yearly psychiatric technician salary is approximately $33,140, or around $15.93 per hour. This has great variance, with the lowest 10% receiving $20,550, and the highest 10% earning $52,980. Experience is a great factor in this, as well as location. Education is a minimal factor affecting psychiatric technician salary, however it is still a factor worth considering.

Position occupied is an interesting case for examination; while there is little opportunity for movement in the occupation itself, the field can lead to notable gains through further education.

The industry worked is a primary factor affecting salary, leading to potential gains in excess of $10,000. This is highly dependent on other factors as well, such as experience and location, however paying careful attention to industry trends can help the employee make suitable pecuniary improvements.

Education and Specialization 

As mentioned, education in and of itself isn’t much of a factor in psychiatric technician salary. Most psychiatric techs have a postsecondary education, and receive on-the-job training. While one can find work in this field with a standard high school diploma (or equivalent), a degree or diploma from a college will bring higher salary offers.

With the large number of potential areas of employment, a focus on a particular form of psychiatric aid can also bring minor salary increases. Those with a focus on criminal psychology will find themselves more desirable in the prison setting; those with more understanding in educational psychology will be wanted in school or residential programs. While not showing large wage gains, it is a matter for consideration.

Experience and Position 

Greater experience can bring greater salaries, and when it comes to psychiatric technician salary, this translates to a $5,000-$10,000 improvement.

Consideration of position, as mentioned, has some peculiarities in this case; while psychiatric technicians will tend to work under a psychiatrist and have few avenues for position advancement, work in the field itself can be used as a means for acceptance in higher education programs, leading to eventual registration as a psychiatrist. This can greatly increase salaries, though as a path, it is not for the feint of heart.


Industry can offer differences of nearly $10,000 in psychiatric technician salary. Many industries offer average salaries around the mean of $33,140, however specialty hospitals average $46,160. Residential facilities for substance abuse and developmental and mental health disabilities, on the other hand, show wages around $24,900. 


West Virginia, with a low cost of living, has a similarly low salary; the lowest in the country, at $20,620. New Jersey, on the other hand, tops the chart at $53,990, or more than $20,000 above the national average. California and Connecticut hold the second and third positions, at $49,930 and $46,240, respectively. The most lucrative area for psychiatric technicians, however, is Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where the mean salary is $63,930.

Psychiatric Technician Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Harrisburg, PA: $63,930New Jersey: $53,990Specialty Hospitals: $46,160California: (8,400 jobs) $49,930
San Francisco, CA: $56,960California: $49,930Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools: $40,630Massachusetts: (8,340 jobs) $36,950
Newark, NJ: $55,160Connecticut: $46,240Nursing Care Facilities: $34,910Florida: (6,140 jobs) $25,410
Sacramento, CA: $54,310Alaska: $41,060Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals: $34,040Missouri: (5,220 jobs) $24,660
Fresno, CA: $53,080New York: $39,930Offices of Other Healthcare Professionals: $33,800Virginia: (4,030 jobs) $25,950

psychiatric technician salary state by state