How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse

If you want to become a psychiatric nurse, you are aspiring to get into a very rewarding and exciting career. As a psychiatric nurse, you will work with mentally ill patients and those with addictions as well. In order to become a psychiatric nurse, you will have to go through an extensive education and licensing process. Here are the basics of how to become a psychiatric nurse.


In order to become a psychiatric nurse, you must first aim for becoming a registered nurse. Psychiatric nurses are all registered nurses with additional training. This means that you will first need to get your high school diploma. From that point, you will be able to enter into a registered nursing program. You can do this by getting an Associates degree in nursing which takes 2 years. You can also choose to get a bachelors degree in nursing and this will take approximately 4 years. 

If you want to become an advanced practice registered nurse, you will need to go to graduate school and obtain a Masters degree. This process will take an additional 2 years to complete. Some nurses also choose to get their doctorate degree in this field which would add 2 years onto this total as well. Therefore, those that are in the most advanced portion of psychiatric nurses will have to attend school for at least 8 years. 

During your educational training, you will learn about a variety of mental and physical disorders that you will treat. You will have to study a great deal of biology, physiology, psychology, and sociology.

Licensing and Certification

Once you graduate from college, you will have to pass an exam in order to become a registered nurse. This exam is known as the NCLEX-RN and it is administered separately in each state. Therefore, depending on which state in which you reside, the test will be slightly different. If you pass this test, you can start working as a registered nurse. If you do not pass the test, you can continue to take it again. Each state has different laws as to how often you can take this test.

After you have become an RN, you can go after your additional certification that is required to become a psychiatric nurse. This is known as PMHN certification which stands for psychiatric mental health nurse. In order to become certified, you will have to take another exam that is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Working as a Psychiatric Nurse

Once you have completed the education and licensing process, you can start to look for jobs as a psychiatric nurse. You will be able to start applying for entry-level positions in the appropriate facilities. Sometimes, you will have to start out as a basic psychiatric nurse and then eventually work your way up to an advanced psychiatric nurse.

Finding a Job

If you are currently looking for a job as a psychiatric nurse, be sure to check out www.nursing They have an up-to-date listing of nursing jobs as well as other important information.