How To Become A Behavioral Health Technician
Career Video: Behavioral Health Technician
Do you enjoy helping people who are sick and have mentally illnesses? Are you good at working with people? Are you compassionate and understanding? Can you stay patient while working with people who have a variety of different needs? Do you enjoy the medical field? A career as a behavioral health technician could be perfect for you.
Why Become A Behavioral Health Technician
A behavioral health technician is also called a psychiatric technician. These people are assistants who help doctors, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals by carrying out the recommended treatment plans for their patients. These patients have a variety of mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, physical abuse, schizophrenia and other disorders.
A technician is given an individual treatment plan from the doctor for each patient. The behavioral health technician communicates with the doctor about each patient’s needs. The technician checks in with each patient on a regular basis to see how they are doing and records their information, plus updates any changes. The technician provides patients with their daily medications and might also help patients with daily living such as getting up out of bed, getting dressed, and other simply tasks.
A Behavioral Health Technician must possess the following qualities and skills:
- Detail Oriented
- Follows Directions
- Medical Knowledge Required
Behavioral Health Technician Work Environment
Behavioral health technicians are often employed in hospitals, mental health facilities, substance abuse facilities and rehabilitation clinics, homeless shelters, and other facilities that are specifically targeted towards people with behavioral issues. These types of facilities are often open 24 hours a day and as medical staff, behavioral health technicians are expected to work all kinds of hours in their role – days, nights, overnights, weekends and holidays.
The average work day for a behavioral health technician is routine and involves checking in on patients, updating their charts, helping them with anything they might need, and distributing medications. Occasionally, there might be a hostile situation amongst the patients, due to the mentally ill nature of the patients a behavioral health technician deals with. A technician must know how to calm a patient and restrain them appropriately without harming themselves, the patient, or others. Handling outbursts such as this is one part of the work environment.
Behavioral Health Technician Salary
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for behavioral health technicians was $30,000.
People employed as behavioral health technicians by state government often make higher salaries than average. In 2012, those employed by the government made $32,000 annually. Technicians employed in outpatient care facilities tend to make the least amount of money. In 2012, the average salary for those employed by outpatient facilities was $23,000.
Behavioral Health Technician Career Outlook
The projected job growth of behavioral health technicians is estimated at four percent from 2012 to 2022, which is less than most other career fields.
In 2012, approximately 153,000 people were employed as behavioral health technicians. In 2022, it is approximated there will be about 160,000 people employed in this field.
The world’s population is living longer. Along with that, there are a number of cognitive disorders and mental illnesses that people are facing as they age. Expanded health care has made it possible for people to get the treatments that they need. Today, mental illness is not as a taboo as it once was. Behavioral health technicians are needed in a variety of health settings to work with this special demographic.
Behavioral Health Technician Degree
The first step in becoming a behavioral health technician is to graduate from high school or earn your GED. Take foundational classes that your high school offers. Science and math classes will help you to understand the medical aspects of the field, and you will use reading and writing skills to understand the doctor’s treatment plans and take notes.
You do not need a college degree to become a behavioral health technician. Many employers will hire you if you can show you have significant years of experience working in the mental health field. However, one of the best and easiest ways to get that experience is through a college program.
There are many programs for both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees available. Programs in behavioral health, psychology, substance abuse counseling, mental health technology, and other majors are perfect choices for this career path. These programs are typically offered by your local community college or four year university.
After receiving a degree in an appropriate field, it is still important to receive experience in the mental health field. Internships and volunteering are an excellent way to receive training in this field. While interning, you will be able to see in a career as a behavioral health technician is right for you. This is a great way to network and land your first job in the field after college.
Some states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado and Kansas, require that behavioral health technicians pass a certification program. Check your state requirements to learn if you need to become certified in your state.