How to Become a Mental Health Technician

Three Methods:Decide Which Mental Health Career is Right for YouEnroll in a Formal Education or Training ProgramFind a Mental Health Technician Job

The field for mental health professionals is growing rapidly, and many rewarding careers await those with the education, training, and desire to work as mental health technicians. Follow the steps below to become a mental health technician.

Method 1
Decide Which Mental Health Career is Right for You

Mental health technicians include a wide variety of mental health workers, but the term is perhaps most commonly used to refer to as medical assistants, nursing assistants, and physician assistants. In some cases, people use the term to describe psychologists, behavioral counselors, orderlies, and therapists. Deciding what type of career track appeals to you is an important part of becoming a mental health technician.

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    Determine how much education you are willing to get. Education programs and formal training can take nearly a decade for psychiatrists and medical doctors if you do not have a bachelors degree.
    • Consider how much time (and money) you have available to get the necessary education and start working as a mental health technician.
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    Evaluate your comfort level with the medical aspect of the field. Some mental health technicians regularly encounter blood and other bodily fluids on the job, and may interact with patients in a very medical manner.
    • If you do not react well to medical situations, your mental health technician training may need to tend toward a position related to therapy, research, or administrative work.

Method 2
Enroll in a Formal Education or Training Program

Once you have decided what type of mental health technician you wish to become, look up specific job descriptions in that field and examine the requirements for education. If you need a specific degree, apply to a local school or online degree program and work on making yourself an appealing candidate to the admissions board and to future employers.

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    Make your application stand out with relevant experience. Programs that prepare students for work in the mental health field often want students who are passionate about the field and well aware of the type of career they are likely to have.
    • If you are able, get some exposure to the type of job you wish to have by shadowing a professional in that field, volunteering at a crisis hotline, helping advocacy organizations, and getting a field for what that line of work entails.
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    Consider regular volunteer work or shadow experiences. Not only will repeated, long-term experience in this field help you gain admittance to a degree program, it will also prepare you for the type of work and interaction you will have with patients as a mental health technician.
    • Regular, committed, relevant experience like this can often be maintained through the duration of a degree program, potentially leading to a job offer when your education is done. If not, it will at least serve as great experience to put on your resume when applying to jobs at the end of your program.

Method 3
Find a Mental Health Technician Job

Once you have the education or formal training, becoming a mental health technician can be just a job application away. Cast a wide net and be open to opportunities that are not exactly what you want, provided they keep you in the mental health field and leave you the chance to tailor your work or upgrade to your job of choice in the future.

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    Network to find opportunities in your field. If you have been volunteering or shadowing, ask whether that organization has any available positions. Even if they don’t, they may be glad to put you in touch with friends, business partners, or colleagues with an opening who will be glad to have a personal referral.
    • In addition, let friends, family members, neighbors, fellow students, and pretty much everyone you meet know that you are looking for work as a mental health technician.
    • Use online professional networking sites like LinkedIn to post your resume and see whether people you know may be able to point you toward your next job.
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    Take advantage of online job search engines and print resources. Online job search engines, the newspaper, and even billboards at local mental health facilities can be excellent ways to find out what a wide variety of local companies have announced as job openings.
    • Consider multiple ways to phrase the type of mental health technician position you are hoping to get, and scan anything you are even remotely qualified for to decide whether to apply.
    • Set up automatic searches and email notifications with keywords like “mental health tech,” “behavioral tech,” “psychiatric,” “counselor,” or any other terms that will locate new jobs in your field – most websites can send them to you daily or weekly according to your preferences.
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    Cold call organizations to ask about job openings. Psychiatric wards, rehabilitation centers, local and state public health agencies, community clinics, charitable organizations, private psychiatric offices, alternative therapy clinics, and hospitals may all have relevant mental health technician positions.
    • If you cannot find information about job openings on their website, consider calling and asking politely if they are hiring.
    • You may wish to visit in person with a copy of your resume and a general cover letter explaining your wish to work as a mental health technician, describing your passion for the field and your most pertinent experience or education.
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    Promote yourself. Be vocal about your education, experience, and excitement for working as a mental health technician.
    • Find ways to describe past work experience as relevant mental health technician experience; for instance, customer service experience can translate to comfort working with a wide variety of people (good for working with patients), bartending can be billed as experience listening to people’s concerns and intimate problems, and being a college resident assistant can count as experience counseling homesick students and identifying alcohol abuse.


  • Call local universities and technical schools to see what programs they offer to become a mental health technician; they should be able to tell you the available options and the requirements to gain entrance to the degree program.

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Categories: Health Care