What Is a Behavioral Health Technician?

Behavioral Technician in the Laboratory

A behavioral health technician provides invaluable care to individuals who have developmental disorders, mental health illnesses or neurodegenerative conditions. These professionals provide support to nurses and doctors to encourage the progress of patients. It’s a meaningful career that prepares individuals to make positive contributions to their communities. If you’re interested in pursuing this line of work, you’ll first need to earn a behavioral health technician degree.

What Are the Job Responsibilities of a Behavioral Health Technician?

A behavioral health technician carries out a wide range of responsibilities involving direct patient care. Technicians may assist with administrative-related duties, such as admitting and discharging patients. In addition, they help patients with the activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing and dressing. Other duties behavioral health technicians may perform include:

  • Monitor and record patients’ vital signs
  • Observe and document the behaviors of patients
  • Listen to patients share their concerns and liaise with medical staff about those issues
  • Administer patients’ treatment plans, which includes administering medications to patients
  • Help patients participate in therapeutic and recreational activities

Where Can a Behavioral Health Technician Work?

It’s often thought these professionals primarily work in mental health facilities and psychiatric departments. However, variety of organizations employ behavioral health technicians. These include the following:

  • Long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living communities
  • Homeless shelters and outreach organizations
  • Home health aide agencies
  • Residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities
  • Schools and universities

Which Characteristics and Skills Are Helpful in This Career Field?

It’s possible for anyone to become a behavioral health technician if they are passionate about pursuing this line of work. However, it’s helpful to possess or to actively work on cultivating the following characteristics and skills:

  • Compassion and empathy toward others
  • Patience, including the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Good listening skills
  • Ability to develop a strong rapport with patients
  • A desire to be helpful to other people

In addition, an aspiring behavioral health technician should have solid observational skills. It’s necessary to be alert to any possible changes of behavior or discomfort in the patients. It’s also helpful for these professionals to have decent physical stamina and strength, as they must sometimes lift and transfer patients with poor mobility.

Do I Need to Earn a Behavioral Health Technician Degree?

The majority of behavioral health technicians do need some sort of postsecondary qualification to land a job. Some of them may obtain a postsecondary certificate or a two-year associate’s degree. For these individuals, a period of on-the-job training is typically necessary.

However, it’s strongly recommended that aspiring technicians earn a four-year behavioral health technician degree instead. A Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science degree serves as a strong qualification that can set you apart from other job applicants. This in-depth education will also prepare you to provide a superior level of care to the patients you will look after. Plus, there is the possibility for a higher salary if you possess more than the bare minimum of academic qualifications.

During the course of your studies for a BS in Behavioral Health Science, you can expect to study topics such as the following:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Trauma psychology
  • Human development and family dynamics
  • Counseling theories
  • Cultural and social diversity in behavioral health

In addition to earning your bachelor’s degree, you may later decide to earn a voluntary certification. While this certification is not required to begin working in the field, it can be helpful in securing a higher-level, better-paying job at your desired facility. With a certification, you may be recognized as a highly qualified paraprofessional who is committed to delivering high-quality patient care.

The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians offers four levels of certifications. You can take the Level One certification at any time after high school, followed by the Level Two certification after acquiring your degree and at least one year of work experience in the field. The eligibility requirements for Levels Three and Four are dependent on acquiring additional work experience.1

What’s the Job Outlook for Behavior Health Technicians?

It’s a great time to consider earning your behavioral health technician degree, as the outlook for this career is favorable. This rapid rate of growth is at least partially attributable to the aging population. As the baby boom generation grows older, these individuals are at a higher risk of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Long-term care facilities will need to hire more behavioral health technicians to care for these patients.

You can begin working toward a rewarding career in mental health by earning your behavioral health technician degree at Grand Canyon University. Apply to enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science degree or choose from a number of specialization options, such as the Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Substance Use Disorders program. Use the Request Info button at the top of your screen to begin your academic journey at GCU.

Retrieved from: American Association of Psychiatric Technicians, The Certification Process, in March 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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