Psychiatric aides generally work in facilities that house mentally or emotionally disturbed patients. They are part of a team that usually includes a psychiatrist or psychologist, a nursing staff, a therapist and perhaps a social worker. A psychiatric aide is charged with helping patients bathe, dress, eat and take personal care of themselves. Psychiatric aides also socialize with their patients, helping to make them feel comfortable and to participate in group recreational activities.
Training for psychiatric aides can be found in vocational or technical schools and in community colleges. Coursework includes personal care skills, body mechanics (for heavy lifting), anatomy, nutrition and communications skills. Training is not necessary; some facilities require only a high school diploma. However the majority of employers in this field would like to see some background in the form of a course of study or previous experience.
There were about 62,000 psychiatric aides employed in the U.S. in 2006. About half of them worked in psychiatric hospitals or substance abuse care facilities. Some were employed in nursing homes and residential care facilities.
The job growth in this field is expected to be about the same as the average for overall job growth in the next several years. Many patients now cared for in a hospital setting will be shifted to residential care facilities.
Lowest 10% $17,360
Median Salary $26,560
Highest 10% $39,030
Source: U.S. Department of Labor