Psychiatric Nurse Career Information

A psychiatric nurse specializes in the field of psychology. A psychiatric nurse manages and takes care of patients with mental or psychological problems. A psychiatric nurse may also educate the patients. Depending on your choice and education, you can specialize in adulthood, childhood or adolescence; consultation or liaison; eating disorders; or forensic, geriatric or abuse treatments.

Desired Education and Skills

Educational qualifications may include the following:

  • Graduating with a major in nursing.
  • Becoming a registered nurse by passing the examination.
  • Completing the licensing examination to practice as a psychiatric nurse. Certified psychiatric nurse programs are offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
  • Possessing good interpersonal and communication skills. You must consistently talk to the patients and motivate them.
  • Offering good counseling abilities. You must counsel the patients for improving their social behavior.
  • Possessing sharp observational skills and tolerance.

Daily Tasks/Duties

Tasks and duties for psychiatric nursing jobs consist of these:

  • Treating the patients and administering medical treatment and related therapies.
  • Rehabilitating and educating the patients with emotional disturbances and helping them overcome mental instability.
  • Building a good rapport with the patients and other members of their families.
  • Designing a care plan according to the nursing requirements of the patients. You do this by carefully observing the patients and their behavior towards others.
  • Assessing, diagnosing and prescribing the medications (allowed only in a few states).
  • Supervising other employees and trainees.
  • Explaining and educating about the therapies used in treatment to the family members and other relatives.
  • Taking care of the safety of others. Some psychiatric patients may attack others.
  • Managing difficult, adamant or even dangerous behavior of the patients.

The Work Environment

A psychiatric nurse usually works for a clinic, hospital, community center or prison which contains a special division for this treatment. At times, a psychiatric nurse may have to work on weekends, nights or evenings because of emergencies.


Psychiatric nurses are paid around $24 to $30 an hour. The annual salary falls in the range of $75,000 to $85,000.

Opportunities for Career Advancement

As the career progresses, you can be promoted to charge nurse. Senior nurses can become chief or head of the wards, departments, clinics or a nurse team. You can progress further by obtaining a master’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing after becoming a RN. APRNs are hired as clinical nurse specialists, university professors or researchers.

Job Prospects

Due to increasingly unhealthy lifestyles and stress for people today, the mental health care industry is growing rapidly. Thus the demand for psychiatric nurses will probably increase considerably in the next 10 years.