Welcome to the Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians

Psychiatric Technician

Analysis of the Psychiatric Technician Profession

1. What is a psychiatric technician (PT)?

An entry-level health care provider who is responsible for care of mentally disordered and developmentally disabled clients.

A psychiatric technician practices under the direction of a physician, psychologist, rehabilitation therapist, social worker, registered nurse or other professional personnel.

The licensee is not an independent practitioner.

2. What are the curricular requirements for a PT?

1,530 Total Hours: Theory - 576 Hours; Clinical - 954 Hours

Theory Hours Clinical Hours
Pharmacology 54
Nursing Science 126 270
Mental Disorders 108 270
Developmental Disabilities 108 270
Related Content 180 144

Program Length:

  • Full-Time 12-14 Months of Training
  • Part-Time 18-20 Months of Training

3. What is the course content for a PT program?

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing Process
  • Communication
  • Patient Education
  • Nutrition
  • Normal Growth and Development
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Mental Disorders
  • Nursing Fundamentals
  • Leadership
  • Medical/Surgical Nursing
  • Gerontological Nursing
  • Supervision
  • Communicable Disease including Human Immunodeficiency Virus

4. Where are Psychiatric Technician Programs located?

Psychiatric Technician programs are located in community colleges, adult education, regional occupational programs, hospitals and private schools.

5. Where are PTs employed?

  • State Hospitals
  • Day Treatment Centers
  • Developmental Centers
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Psychiatric Hospitals & Clinics
  • Psychiatric Technician Programs
  • Geropsychiatric Centers
  • Residential Care Facilities
  • Vocational Training Centers

6. What is the typical salary range of a PT?

$15 - $27 Per Hour
$30,720 - $51,840 Per Year

Methods of Entry-level Access as a Psychiatric Technician

Requirements for psychiatric technician licensure are specified in the Psychiatric Technicians Law. There are three (3) methods by which one may qualify for the licensure examination. Each method is designed to provide an individual access into the job market as an entry-level practitioner.

Method #1: Graduation from a California "approved" Psychiatric Technician Program.

Method #2: Completion of equivalent education and experience as follows:

1,530 Hours of Theory Clinical
Pharmacology 54 Hours
Nursing Science 126 Hours *270 Hours
Mental Disorders 108 Hours *270 Hours
Developmental Disabilities 108 Hours *270 Hours
Related Content 108 Hours **144 Hours

*9 months of paid work experience may be substituted for clinical hours in each category.
**4.8 months of paid work experience may be substituted for clinical hours.

Method #3: Completion of education and experience as a corpsman in the United States military.

  • Proof of having completed an Armed Forces course involving neuropsychiatric nursing and an Armed Forces or civilian course from an approved school in the care of the developmentally disabled client.
  • Proof of having completed at least one year of verified full time paid work experience, including at least six months in a military clinical facility caring for clients with mental disorders and at least six months in a military or civilian clinical facility caring for clients with developmental disabilities shall be required. Verified full time paid work experience in a civilian clinical facility for treatment of clients with developmental disabilities may be utilized, in part, to satisfy application requirements.

Last Updated: July 2007