In the Air Force:
Mental Health Service; Mental Health Service Apprentice; Mental Health Service Craftsman; Mental Health Service Helper; Mental Health Service Journeyman; Mental Health Service Manager; Mental Health Service Superintendent
In the Army:
Behavioral Health Specialist; Nurse Corps Officer; Psychiatric/Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric technicians and aides provide safety and support to help people with mental illness and severe developmental disabilities enjoy quality of life, and to improve their mental health. Also known as mental health technicians, psychiatric technicians assist with patients’ therapeutic care; they listen to patients’ concerns and lead them in recreational or therapeutic activities. They also have medical tasks, administering medication and monitoring patients’ vital signs. Psychiatric aides assist with transportation, engage patients in activities, and maintain a safe, clean physical environment. Both technicians and aides help patients with daily living needs, such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Meeting patients’ needs requires patience and fortitude as well as the stamina to be on your feet all day and, if it comes to it, the strength to restrain a distressed or violent patient. It’s not always pleasant work. However, these workers can have a great deal of influence on patients’ outlooks and treatments. Observation skills, communication, and compassion are key qualities in these fields. Psychiatric technicians and aides work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and chemical dependency addiction treatment centers. Facilities are typically all-hours, so work hours may include nights, weekends, and holidays. Psychiatric technicians usually need a certificate in the field, and many also have previous experience as a nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse. Psychiatric aides typically need only a high school diploma. Both technicians and aides get on-the-job training before they work without direct supervision.
What they do:
Assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff. May assist with daily living activities, lead patients in educational and recreational activities, or accompany patients to and from examinations and treatments. May restrain violent patients. Includes psychiatric orderlies.
On the job, you would:
Record and maintain patient information, such as vital signs, eating habits, behavior, progress notes, treatments, or discharge plans.
Listen and provide emotional support and encouragement to psychiatric patients.
Complete physical checks and monitor patients to detect unusual or harmful behavior and report observations to professional staff.
Math and Science
Arts and Humanities
therapy and counseling
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
talking to others
understanding people's reactions
looking for ways to help people
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
pay attention to something without being distracted
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Electronic mail software
Operating system software
high school diploma/GED or some college usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.