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Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses provide professional nursing 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: Psychiatric Nurses (3152.4) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Registered Nurses (D112) 
  • 2011 NOC: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (3012) 
  • 2016 NOC: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (3012) 
  • 2021 NOC: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (31301) 
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

Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

  • 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
  • Monitor the unit to ensure quality and safe 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 situations
  • Facilitate workshops on self-esteem, anger management, goal setting, relapse prevention, and grief and loss
  • Interview new client admissions and assist with discharge planning
  • Provide wound care management and vital signs assessments
  • Do routine drug screening and breathalyzer tests
  • Assist clients with Alberta and federal funding programs
  • Facilitate family meetings to discuss client needs and expectations in care
  • Keep clear and accurate documentation

Psychiatric nurses’ teamwork skills come into play when setting up and implementing therapeutic programs. At those times, they collaborate with health care professionals such as psychiatrists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, pharmacists, recreational and occupational therapists, as well as people in law enforcement.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Psychiatric nursing can be intellectually, physically, and emotionally demanding. Shift work is the norm in institutional settings such as hospitals. Shifts include nights, weekends and holidays. Psychiatric nurses may be required 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.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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 with 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 100 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 19, 2022 and Feb 01, 2023.

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: Client focus
Construction Specialization: Judgement
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • 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, 2019
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

  • Community mental health programs and clinics (for example, support services for people with disabilities or chemical dependencies, crisis services, and suicide-prevention programs)
  • Residential care facilities
  • Acute care, extended care, long-term care, and 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 [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 3012: Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 1361 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: 2019-2023 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, 2019

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

Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

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, 2019

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, 2019. 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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