Psychiatric aides and psychiatric technicians or direct services associates help care for
mentally ill and substance abuse patients. They work under the direct supervision of
mental health therapists, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses. Psychiatric technicians may specialize in certain areas, such as crisis intervention, substance abuse or
children’s problems. They may work at crisis centers, substance abuse facilities, hospitals, social service centers, schools or community mental health programs. Their
responsibilities vary according to the work setting and the individual’s level of training.
Psychiatric aides who work in hospital settings:
• help patients bathe, dress and complete other personal care activities.
• take patients to and from wards for examination and treatment.
• encourage patients to participate in social, educational and recreational activities.
• feed patients who need assistance.
• aid or restrain patients to prevent injuries to themselves or others.
• escort patients to off-site treatment, entertainment or enrichment activities.
• assist with patient orientation, housekeeping and security.
Psychiatric technicians usually have more formal education, training and responsibilities than psychiatric aides. In addition to the duties listed above, they also:
• interview patients and their families and record information.
• help develop and implement patient treatment plans.
• observe patients and report any meaningful actions to the staff.
• lead individual and group counseling sessions and therapy activities.
• teach skills that help patients resolve problems that affect daily living.
• check and record patients’ vital signs.
• assist supervisors in giving prescribed medication.
Average Salary Range
$14,000 – $25,000 (aides)
$17,300 – $27,700 (technicians)
Students interested in becoming psychiatric
aides or technicians should take challenging high school courses, including science
A high school diploma and post-secondary
training are needed for employment as a
psychiatric technician, but they are not necessary for a psychiatric aide.