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Mental Health Tech Salary

by Aurelio Locsin

It takes more than psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors to treat mental and emotional problems. Mental health technicians, also known as psychiatric technicians, support these professionals by taking care of patients and tending to such basic daily needs as personal hygiene. Their jobs can be physically strenuous. They can earn their wages by lifting patients or physically restraining those who are violent.

Basics

The nation’s 69,840 psychiatric technicians earned a mean $31,370 per year, or $15.08 per hour, as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-paid 10 percent received under $15,680 yearly, or $7.54 hourly, while the best-paid 10 percent earned more than an annual $51,200, or $24.61 per hour. About a third worked for psychiatric and substance-abuse hospitals to average $34,170 a year, or $16.43 an hour. State government was the next biggest employer, with almost the same percentage of jobs, but lower means at $27,810 yearly, or $13.37 hourly. The highest-paying employers were specialty hospitals that did not include psychiatry and substance abuse. They offered a mean $47,840 per year, or $23 per hour.

Locations

The states with the highest populations have the most patients and the best job opportunities for mental health technicians. Texas ranked first, with 10,300 jobs, and mean annual wages of $18,600. California was next with 8,730 positions. It also boasted the highest wages, averaging $52,280 per year. For cities, Boston topped the employment list with 5,510 techs making a mean $38,990 yearly, or $18.75 hourly. Los Angeles had 1,850 positions averaging $47,420 a year, or $22.80 per hour. The best paying metropolitan area was Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at a mean $58,370 per year, or $28.06 per hour. (REFERENCE 3. Sorry, couldn’t find any reasons for why pay was highest at these areas.)

Contributing Factors

Mental health technicians can enter their professions as aides, who need only a high school diploma. They receive on-the-job training from more experienced workers or supervisors. However, their earnings are lower than those of technicians, averaging a mean $27,270 annually, or $13.11 per hour. Annual ranges were $17,000 to $41,720, which equaled hourly rates of $8.17 to $20.06. To work as a full technician demands a post-secondary certificate, which can take from one semester to two years to complete. Technicians get hands-on experience from educational coops and internships, and also receive training on the job. Arkansas, California, Colorado and Kansas require licenses for technicians, which usually mandates an accredited education and passing an exam.

Job Outlook

Jobs for psychiatric technicians are expected to increase by an average 15 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. This is due to the baby boomers who are aging and living longer. As they become more elderly, they are more likely to suffer from mental diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, which technicians can handle. Many jobs will come from residential treatment facilities for developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse. These facilities are cost-effective and longer-term alternatives to hospitals.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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