A high school diploma or its equivalent and on-the-job training are the minimum requirements for work as a psychiatric technician; however, a post-secondary certificate as a medical assistant or licensed practical nurse or an associate degree in psychiatric or mental health technology are typically necessary. Associate degree programs in mental health and psychiatric technology, available at technical schools and community colleges, cover basic principles of psychiatric care, symptoms and treatments of psychiatric diagnoses and include biology, psychology and pharmacology courses.
Supervised clinical practice or internships are also often part of these degree programs. Credentialing as a psychiatric technician, which is available through the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians, enhances a technician's employability.
The AAPT has four levels of certification available. Level 1 requires a high school diploma or its equivalent, Level 2 requires 480 hours of any type of post-secondary coursework and one year of work in the fields of mental health or developmental disabilities and Level 3 certification doubles the Level 2 requirements for post-secondary education and experience. To achieve Level 4 certification, a candidate must hold a bachelor's degree in mental health or developmental disabilities and have a minimum of three years work experience in the field of mental health.
California, Arkansas, Kansas and Colorado require licensing prior to employment as a psychiatric technician. California's licensing requirements, as an example, includes completion of high school or its equivalent, criminal background checks and successful completion of a written examination. Additionally all candidates must meet specific requirements pertaining to education and related work experience.