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Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses provide professional and mental-health nursing services. They promote and help people restore and maintain good mental health.

Also Known As

Nurse, Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN)

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 3152.4: Psychiatric Nurses

2006 NOC-S

  • D112: Registered Nurses

2011 NOC

  • 3012: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

2016 NOC

  • 3012: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

2021 NOC

  • 31301: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

2023 OaSIS

  • 31301.01: General duty registered nurses
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Either independently or as part of a multidisciplinary team, psychiatric nurses provide holistic, client-centred nursing care. They may:

  • Complete health histories, physical examinations, and status assessments of mental health
  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and update nursing care plans
  • Administer and assess the effects of prescribed medications and treatments
  • Assess, report, and respond to observed behavioural changes
  • Plan and implement strategies to promote clients’ optimal mental and physical health and well-being
  • Serve as advocates for clients and their families
  • Monitor the unit to ensure safe, high-quality patient care
  • Facilitate multidisciplinary team meetings and daily case reviews with doctors
  • Prepare daily staff assignment sheets
  • Provide short-term counselling and one-on-one client therapy
  • De-escalate aggressive or crisis situations
  • Facilitate workshops and other forms of learning about mental-health topics such as self-esteem, anger management, goal setting, relapse prevention, and grief and loss
  • Interview new client admissions and participate in discharge planning
  • Manage wound care and assess vital signs
  • Do routine drug screening and breathalyzer tests
  • Assist clients of provincial and federal funding programs
  • Facilitate family meetings to discuss client needs and expectations while in care
  • Keep clear and accurate documentation

Psychiatric nurses enact teamwork skills to establish and implement therapeutic programs. They collaborate with other health-care professionals. These may include psychiatrists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, pharmacists, recreational and occupational therapists, and people in law enforcement.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Psychiatric nursing is intellectually, physically, and emotionally demanding. Shift work is the norm in institutional settings such as hospitals. Shifts include days, nights, weekends, and holidays. Psychiatric nurses may need to provide direct physical care, including lifting and transferring patients, and assisting patients with hygiene needs and other daily activities.

Nurses often drive to their work locations.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Psychiatric Nurses

2006 NOC: 3152.4

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in instructing patients in life skills programs; and in encouraging patients to participate in routine work functions and recreational, community and other therapeutic activities


Interest in compiling information to keep patient records and record symptoms and changes in patients' conditions


Interest in operating medical equipment to perform tests and administer treatments; and in evaluating patients' adjustment in the community

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Psychiatric nurses need:

  • Patience, understanding, and a caring attitude
  • Maturity and self-discipline
  • Communication and teamwork skills
  • Organizational, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills
  • Good judgment, especially in stressful situations
  • Quick thinking
  • Physical and mental stamina
  • Time-management skills

They should enjoy:

  • Taking a methodical approach to compiling information and administering treatments
  • Working and consulting with people
  • Directing the work of others

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

2016 NOC: 3012

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 104 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Apr 28, 2023 and Jun 10, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Judgement
Tasks: Collaborate to plan, implement, co-ordinate and evaluate patient care
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Health benefits: Health care plan
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

The minimum education requirement for psychiatric nurses is a diploma in psychiatric nursing. Psychiatric nurses need to be committed to lifelong learning.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Grant MacEwan University

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Nurse - Psychiatric

Psychiatric nurses provide professional nursing and mental-health nursing services for patients, residents, and clients in acute and long-term care facilities and in the community. They assess physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health needs, develop diagnoses, and plan, implement, and evaluate nursing care.


Under Alberta’s Health Professions Act [pdf], Health Professions Restricted Activity Regulation [pdf], and Registered Psychiatric Nurses Profession Regulation [pdf], registration with the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta (CRPNA) is mandatory. Only registered members may provide restricted activities specified in the Regulations. This includes those who:

  • Meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public
  • Teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession
  • Supervise registered members who provide services to the public
  • Call themselves registered psychiatric nurses
  • Use the initials RPN or PN

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Nurse - Psychiatric.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Psychiatric nurses may work in a variety of settings. About two-thirds of psychiatric nurses employed in Alberta work in hospitals. Most others work for:

  • Community mental-health programs and clinics, such as support services for people with disabilities or chemical dependencies, crisis services, and suicide-prevention programs
  • Addiction recovery centres
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Residential care facilities
  • Acute care, extended care, long-term care, and palliative care facilities
  • Educational institutions
  • Correctional institutions

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3012: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses occupational group, 95.8% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3012: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 695 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Salaries for psychiatric nurses vary depending on their employer and their educational qualifications, experience, and responsibilities.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

2016 NOC: 3012
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3012 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $36.86 $38.09 $36.85 $36.86
Overall $43.63 $47.78 $46.21 $46.51
Top $49.34 $59.44 $56.12 $59.44

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) website:

College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta (CRPNA) website:

Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada (RPNRC) website:

United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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