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Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses provide professional nursing and mental health nursing services in mental health care facilities and in the community. They promote and help people restore and maintain good mental health.

  • Avg. Salary $80,129.00
  • Avg. Wage $42.88
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 42,600
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As


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: Psychiatric Nurses (3152.4) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Registered Nurses (D112) 
  • 2011 NOC: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (3012) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Psychiatric Nurse is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Psychiatric Nurses

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

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 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 More

Updated Dec 15, 2016

Psychiatric nurses may work independently or as part of a multidisciplinary health care team. In general, they:

  • provide holistic, client centred nursing care
  • complete health histories, physical examinations and mental status assessments
  • develop, implement, evaluate and update nursing care plans
  • administer and assess the effects of prescribed medications and treatments
  • assess, report and respond appropriately to observed behavioural changes
  • plan and implement strategies to promote optimal mental and physical health and well-being of clients 
  • serve as advocates for clients and their families.

In developing and implementing therapeutic programs, psychiatric nurses work in co-operation with other health care professionals (for example, psychiatrists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, pharmacists, recreational and occupational therapists) and law enforcement professionals.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Psychiatric nursing can be intellectually, physically and emotionally demanding. In institutional settings such as hospitals, nurses work a variety of shifts that include nights, weekends and holidays. They may be required to provide direct physical care, including lifting and transferring patients, and assisting patients with hygiene needs and other daily living activities.

Working in community settings may involve driving to various locations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Psychiatric nurses need the following characteristics:

  • patience, understanding and a caring attitude
  • maturity and self-discipline
  • organization, problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • effective verbal and written communication skills
  • good judgment, especially in stressful situations
  • the ability to think and respond quickly and appropriately to a variety of difficult situations
  • good physical and mental health
  • commitment to lifelong learning.

They should enjoy working with and consulting others, taking a methodical approach to compiling information and administering treatments, and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

The minimum education requirement for psychiatric nurses is a diploma in psychiatric nursing.

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.

Grant MacEwan University

Saskatchewan Polytechnic

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

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 and Registered Psychiatric and Mental Deficiency Nurses Profession Regulation, registration with the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta is mandatory if you 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, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves registered psychiatric nurses or use the initials RPN or PN.

What You Need

Registration with CRPNA requires successful completion of: (1) an approved program of studies, or equivalent, within a specified time period prior to application, and (2) an approved examination. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the CRPNA website or contact the CRPNA directly.

Working in Alberta

Psychiatric nurses who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered psychiatric nurses in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated registered psychiatric nurses, see Psychiatric Nurse Registration Process on the website

Contact Details

College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta
201, 9711 - 45 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T6E 5V8
Phone number: 780-434-7666
Toll-free phone number: 1-877-234-7666
Fax number: 780-436-4165

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Psychiatric nurses may be employed in a wide variety of settings. About two thirds of the psychiatric nurses employed in Alberta work in hospitals. Most of the others are employed by:

  • community mental health programs and clinics (for example, support services for persons who have disabilities or chemical dependencies, crisis services and suicide prevention programs)
  • residential care facilities 
  • acute care, extended care, long term care or palliative care facilities
  • educational institutions 
  • correctional institutions.

Psychiatric nurses are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3012: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses.  In Alberta, 96% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Salaries for nurses vary depending on the employer and the nurse's educational qualifications, experience and responsibilities.

Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $36.86 $38.09 $36.97 $36.86
Overall $42.59 $44.64 $42.88 $42.61
Top $48.37 $50.67 $48.76 $48.37

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.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

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 Dec 15, 2016

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) website:

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

Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada (RPNC) website:

United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2014. 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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