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Career profile Psychiatric Aide

Also known as Mental Health Aide (MHA), Mental Health Worker (MHW), Psychiatric Aide, Psychiatric Nursing Aide, Psychiatric Nursing Assistant, Resident Care Technician, Therapeutic Program Worker (TPW)

Psychiatric Aide

Also known as Mental Health Aide (MHA), Mental Health Worker (MHW), Psychiatric Aide

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$21,840 - $48,880 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Service Orientation
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Psychology
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Therapy and Counseling
Core tasks
  • Listen and provide emotional support and encouragement to psychiatric patients.
  • Record and maintain patient information, such as vital signs, eating habits, behavior, progress notes, treatments, or discharge plans.
  • Complete physical checks and monitor patients to detect unusual or harmful behavior and report observations to professional staff.
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What does a Psychiatric Aide do?

Psychiatric Aides assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff.

In addition, Psychiatric Aides

  • 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.

What kind of tasks does a Psychiatric Aide perform regularly?

Psychiatric Aides are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Listen and provide emotional support and encouragement to psychiatric patients.
  • Record and maintain patient information, such as vital signs, eating habits, behavior, progress notes, treatments, or discharge plans.
  • Complete physical checks and monitor patients to detect unusual or harmful behavior and report observations to professional staff.
  • Restrain or aid patients as necessary to prevent injury.
  • Serve meals or feed patients needing assistance or persuasion.
  • Work as part of a team that may include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, or social workers.
  • Clean and disinfect rooms and furnishings to maintain a safe and orderly environment.
  • Provide mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients with routine physical, emotional, psychological, or rehabilitation care under the direction of nursing or medical staff.
  • Maintain patients' restrictions to assigned areas.
  • Provide patients with assistance in bathing, dressing, or grooming, demonstrating these skills as necessary.
  • Aid patients in becoming accustomed to hospital routine.
  • Organize, supervise, or encourage patient participation in social, educational, or recreational activities.
  • Perform nursing duties, such as administering medications, measuring vital signs, collecting specimens, or drawing blood samples.
  • Accompany patients to and from wards for medical or dental treatments, shopping trips, or religious or recreational events.
  • Participate in recreational activities with patients, including card games, sports, or television viewing.

The above responsibilities are specific to Psychiatric Aides. More generally, Psychiatric Aides are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What is a Psychiatric Aide salary?

The median salary for a Psychiatric Aide is $31,570, and the average salary is $33,300. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Psychiatric Aide salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Psychiatric Aides earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Psychiatric Aides earn less than $21,840 per year, 25% earn less than $25,630, 75% earn less than $39,270, and 90% earn less than $48,880.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Psychiatric Aides is expected to change by 7.4%, and there should be roughly 7,200 open positions for Psychiatric Aides every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$21,840 - $48,880
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Psychiatric Aides?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Psychiatric Aide are usually higher in their Social, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Psychiatric Aides typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Psychiatric Aides typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Psychiatric Aides typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Psychiatric Aide tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Psychiatric Aides very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Psychiatric Aides strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Psychiatric Aides strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Psychiatric Aides must consistently demonstrate qualities such as self-control, concern for others, and stress tolerance.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Psychiatric Aides, ranked by importance:

Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

What education and training do Psychiatric Aides need?

Working as a Psychiatric Aide usually requires a high school diploma.

Psychiatric Aides need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Psychiatric Aides

  • 5.4% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 30.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 34.0% completed some college coursework
  • 13.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 13.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.2% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Psychiatric Aides

Psychiatric Aides may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as psychology, customer and personal service, or therapy and counseling knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Psychiatric Aides might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Psychiatric Aides

Psychiatric Aides must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Psychiatric Aides need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Psychiatric Aides, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Psychiatric Aides

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Psychiatric Aides frequently use skills like social perceptiveness, service orientation, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Psychiatric Aides, ranked by their relative importance.

Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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