Psychiatric Technician

  • New Psychiatric Technician Program cohort starts February 20, 2024
  • Applications are being accepted now

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Psychiatric Technician Program Changes

To ensure a better experience for students, students must now complete course prerequisites which had traditionally been part of the program prior to applying.

Required Admissions Prerequisite Courses: 
Updated required courses which much be completed prior to applying.

Application Process Changes
The applications process has changed, specifically, applications will be given a score based on earned grade point average (GPA) in the prerequisite courses, level of educational attainment, and previous experience as a CNA, MA, LVN, or Corpsman.  

The safety and well-being of students is our priority at West Hills College Coalinga. The Psychiatric Technician Program at West Hills College Coalinga is adhering to Fresno County Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and Governor Newsom’s Executive Orders regarding social distancing and other personal safety steps, as applicable.

As you consider the Psychiatric Technician Program at West Hills College Coalinga, we ask that you understand as an incoming student, guidelines from the CDC and Governor Newsom may require the Psychiatric Technician program to move to an online learning environment and possibly postpone the program unexpectedly.

All students considering the Psychiatric Technician program should be prepared to adapt to the online learning environment. This includes access to a personal computer and Internet connectivity, a learning environment free of distractions and conducive to remote learning and, when safe, availability to attend on site classes and clinical sites at the scheduled date(s) and time(s).

West Hills’ Psychiatric Technician program aims to prepare students for employment in state hospitals or rehabilitation and treatment centers. Students will learn basic nursing skills and psychiatric principles in order to interact with and care for individuals.

The program will also provide you with the foundational knowledge and skill sets needed to administer medications, conduct relationship development and participate in group therapy. Upon completion, you will be eligible to take the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technician license exam. West Hills College Coalinga offers an Associate Degree or Certificate of Achievement our Psychiatric Technician program.

The California State Departments of Mental Health, Developmental Services and Corrections as well as private and county psychiatric facilities are a few of the agencies which employ licensed Psychiatric Technicians.

About the Psychiatric Technician Program

The Psychiatric Technician program is an 18-month vocational program with admissions of new cohorts pending the approval of the Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians.

Before applying to the program, students must complete course prerequisites and course work that had traditionally been part of the program in previous offerings at West Hills. To ensure a better experience for students, the program was and  reorganized to take some of the previous content out of the program and offer the content to students as prerequisites. This content traditionally included Medical Terminology, Introduction to Medical Professionals, and Math for Medical Professionals. With the reorganization, six additional courses will be offered to students prior to application to the Psych Tech Program. These courses include Anatomy for Nurses, Human Lifespan, Psychology, and 3 units of Pharmacology. Please view the list of courses for the Psychiatric Technician Certificate of Completion.

The application process has also changed. Specifically, applications will be given a score based on GPA in prerequisites and assigned course work, level of educational attainment, and previous experience as a CNA, MA, LVN, or Corpsman. Please review the application for more details.

Prior to application to the program, students must complete the following courses with a minimum of “C” or better.

During the three semesters of the Psychiatric Technician Program students will attend classes four days each week and carry a unit load of about 15. 5 units per semester.

  • Each of the three semesters of the Psychiatric Technician Program will usually involve 2 days of theory coursework and 2 days of clinical/skills lab coursework.
  • The three semesters of the Psychiatric Technician Program involve face-to-face (in-person, not online) coursework.
  • Students must be prepared to attend classes either at the Coalinga campus or at an assigned clinical site that can range in locations that require travel all over the Central Valley as well as the Central Coast.
  • Skills Lab/Clinical assignments are usually held as two (10.5 hour) days a week. Hours and locations will vary, but students should prepare for 6:30 AM start times regardless of location.

Please be prepared to drive all over the Central Valley as well as the Central Coast.

You are required to attend every class and every clinical assignment. Excessive absences may result in dismissal from the program.

The Psychiatric Technician Training Program operates on three, 16-week semesters. Each term has a specific focus of study.

The Admissions Process

Apply for College Admission

Before you can apply for the West Hills College Coalinga Psychiatric Technician Program, you must first apply to West Hills College Coalinga.

Apply to West Hills College Coalinga
Apply to Psychiatric Technician Program
After you apply to West Hills College Coalinga, you must complete the Psychiatric Technician Program packet to apply to the program. 
Apply to the WHCC Psychiatric Program
Psychiatric Technician Program Application Information
    1. Apply to West Hills College Coalinga. Must be a registered student at West Hills College. 
    2. Submit a completed Psychiatric Technician application packet (incomplete applications will not be considered)
    3. You must be 18 years of age or older at the time of application submittal
    4. Copy of current Driver's License or I.D. Card
    5. Copy of Social Security Card
    6. Copy of High School Diploma or GED (College Degree will not be used in place of High School Diploma or GED)
    7. Completed FAFSA on File at the Financial Aid Office at West Hills College is strongly recommended. Most students qualify for tuition assistance.
    8. Un-Official Transcripts reflecting all courses taken at West Hills (un-official transcripts will only be accepted if the courses were completed at WHCC)
    9. One Official Transcript from all other colleges attended, even if it was one course and you didn't complete it. (On file will not count) Official transcripts must remain sealed, only to be opened by West Hills College staff. 
    10. All transcripts must be submitted with the Psychiatric Technician Program Application.
    Psychiatric Technician Program Applications must be filled out completely. Incomplete applications will not be considered for admission.
    • January 24, 2024 – Applications close (4 PM)
    • January 29-31, 2024 – Students accepted will be notified via West Hills College Email
    • February 20, 2024 – Accepted students begin PT 101 – Orientation
  • Completed Application Submission Details
    • Applications are only accepted during the published time frame for each new offering of the Psychiatric Technician Program.
    • In Person Drop-Off
      Health Careers Office
      300 Cherry Lane,
      Coalinga, CA 93210
    • Dates and times for completed Psychiatric Technician Program Applications

    If your application is selected, you will receive an acceptance letter via your college email address with orientation details
  • After acceptance into the program, a background check is required to participate. Background checks will be discussed during orientation.
  • Program Pre-Requisites and Required Course Work
    To be accepted as a complete application to the West Hills College Psychiatric Technician Program, all coursework must be completed and documented on the applicant’s submitted transcripts. 
    Foreign Transcripts

    All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by an accredited evaluation service. A list of services can be obtained in the Information Packet. Foreign High School and College transcripts must be evaluated. College degrees of any kind will not be used for proof of High School or GED completion.


  • Applications to the Psychiatric Technician Program must show proof documenting the required prerequisite coursework, other educational attainment/degrees/diplomas, and certificates/licenses.

    The following rubric will be used to score each complete application.  Applicants should note that Grade Point Average (GPA) in the prerequisite coursework compromises the majority of points on the application.


    Point Options


    HS 080- Intro to Medical Professional

    A= 4, B=3, C=2


    HS 088- Medical Terminology for Health Professional or HS 005-Medical Terminology

    A= 4, B=3, C=2


    PT 090 - Math for Medical Professionals

    A= 4, B=3, C=2


    PT 050 - Anatomy for Nurses or BIO 32 - Human Anatomy

    A= 6, B=4, C=2


    PT 060 - Lifespan for Nurses

    A= 4, B=3, C=2


    PT 070 - Psychology for Nurses

    A= 4, B=3, C=2


    PT 081 - Pharmacology 1

    A= 2, B=1, C=0.5


    PT 082 - Pharmacology 2

    A= 2, B=1, C=0.5


    PT 083 - Pharmacology 3

    A= 2, B=1, C=0.5


    Highest Educational attainment              High school diploma/ GED,           Associate's Degree,                         Bachelor's Degree,                             Master's Degree

    HS D or GED = required              Associate's = 2                   Bachelor's = 3                    Master's = 4


    Previous Experience as CNA, MA, LVN, or Corpsman (Must show current or recent employment history/ license/ certificate

    CNA/MA = 2                       LVN/Corpsman = 3





    Applications will be sorted in order from highest score to lowest score. The highest-scored applications will be the first seated in the available seats. Class sizes in the Psychiatric Technician Program will vary but typically will be 15 to 30 seats, depending on Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) approval and permissions.

  • Applicants should contact the West Hills College Coalinga Financial Aid Office regarding the many grants, scholarships, and funding sources available to our students.

    The Workforce Development office located at your county social services office is an additional resource to consider when thinking about funding your education.   West Hills College Coalinga has a Workforce Connection Office on our campus, located in building A. Contact them at (559) 934-2423. They service Fresno County. If you are in Kings County you call the Job Training Office at (559) 585-3532.

About Psychiatric Technicians
  • The California State Departments of Mental Health, Developmental Services and Corrections as well as private and county psychiatric facilities are a few of the agencies which employ licensed Psychiatric Technicians.

    On July 1, 2005 the construction of Coalinga State Hospital was completed and turned over to the Department of Mental Health. The new state-of-the-art facility is staffed with more than 750 staff members and it is anticipating hiring an additional 1250 positions in order to achieve full staffing. These positions include multiple professionals including medical, psychiatric technicians, nursing and hospital police officer staff to work in the facility.

    Coalinga State Hospital is a multidisciplinary mental health facility that delivers psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery-oriented inpatient services to a population comprised of civilly committed sex offenders and acutely mentally ill prisoners. Hospital professionals assist in the development and implementation of new and innovative programs for the treatment of this unique population. This multi-modal treatment program is designed to assist participants in developing skills and behaviors for managing their deviant behavior and for reducing their risk of re-offending.

    The Psychiatric Technician program is a one year, three (3) semester training program that prepares people for employment and to take the state exam for Psychiatric Technicians.

    For more information regarding the Coalinga State Hospital please visit their website

    For a complete listing of California State Jobs visit the State Personal Board website. The website is a good starting point for finding vacant positions, exam bulletins, job specifications and pay for each classification.

    • Supervise individual and group activities
    • Observe and influence patient behavior
    • Collaborate with interdisciplinary teams
    • Encourage patients to develop work skills, social relationships and participate in recreational activities
    • Teach, counsel, and write reports describing physical and emotional symptoms
    • Provide routine and emergency nursing care
    • Establish effective therapeutic relationships with patients
    • Recognize symptoms requiring medical or psychiatric attention
    • Provide individual and group therapy
    • Work with the treatment team to provide occupational, recreational,
    • Think and act quickly in an emergency
    • Develop clear and concise reports of incidents
    • Analyze situations accurately and take effective action
    • Administer medications and treatments
    • Assist the unit physician with “sick call”
External Licensure/Accreditation Approvals

Program is approved through Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technician.
Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Phone: (916) 263-7800

Degree Options

Choose from an Associate of Science (AS) degree or Certificate of Achievement within our Psychiatric Technician program.AS degrees are designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university, or needing a degree for career advancement opportunities.  Local Certificates are non-transferable.

Students who complete the program with either degree or certificate are eligible to take the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technician license exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

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