The Psychiatric Technician Program at Cuesta College was named one of the top schools in the state in percentage of students passing licensing exams after completing college coursework.

Cuesta students’ 100 percent pass rate was tied with another school for the No. 1 slot for the past quarter, said Karen Boriack, program director. There are 16 accredited psychiatric technician programs in California.

“Our pass rates say a lot about the hard work and commitment being put into the coursework by our students, and the faculty and support staff,” Boriack said. “It reflects how well-prepared our students are to enter the profession as psychiatric technicians.”

All 20 students who completed Atascadero State Hospital/Cuesta College’s Psychiatric Technician Program passed their state board examinations, the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians recently reported.

High pass rates directly relate to employment opportunities for students, she said.

“It means that they obtain their psychiatric technician license and are now employable throughout the state in well-paying and meaningful jobs,” Boriack added.

Cuesta’s yearlong psych tech program prepares students to monitor, provide care and participate in the treatment of mentally and developmentally disabled clients. Graduates who pass the state exam are highly sought-after by mental health facilities, the Department of Corrections, and other state agencies.

Participants in Cuesta’s program complete 55 units of classroom theory and clinical experience. The program admits 30 students three times a year for three 16-week terms.

Students complete clinical assignments in a variety of settings, from forensic mental health units and sub-acute and long-term care facilities, to adult day care, assisted living programs, substance abuse treatment programs, child development centers, special education classes and day training programs for the developmentally disabled.

The average salary for psychiatric techs in California is $52,280, according to the 2011 employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Licensed psychiatric technicians find highly competitive salaries and benefit packages with the state of California at any state hospital, developmental center or correctional facility,” she said. “They are also employed by county mental health programs, private mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, county correctional facilities, public and private special education programs, community care homes, and many other agencies who provide services to individuals with intellectual or mental disabilities.”

An orientation workshop will be held at Atascadero State Hospital later this spring. For more information about Cuesta’s program, visit http://academic.cuesta.edu/nursing/programs.htm#Psychiatric%20Technician or call Boriack at 468-2166.