How to Become a Child Psychiatrist 2021 – A Detailed Guide

How to Become a Child Psychiatrist 2021

How to become a child psychiatrist: Are you interested in child health care? do you want to study further after successfully getting your psychiatrist degree?

Then, you can take a look at what it takes to become a child psychiatrist.

After our article on How to Become a Psychiatrist – Career Path, Salary and Job Description. we got numerous queries on how to become a child psychiatrist. so we are here to answer your questions.

It’s common to see psychiatrists who treat adults. What if I told you that sometimes, children go psycho. And when they do, who attends to them?

A child psychiatrist.

Therefore, if you have a passion for kids and medicine, then you should be thinking of how to become a child psychiatrist to help them when those nuts go off. (pardon my language)

In this piece, we have articulated key strategies and steps to becoming a pediatric psychiatrist.

Now, whether you’re studying abroad or in your country of residency, the same principle applies.

Who is a Child Psychiatrist?

Although many refer to them also as pediatric psychiatrists, both names can be used interchangeably.

They train a Pediatric psychiatrist to be a medical doctor who identifies psychological problems in children and adolescents.

Also, in a branch of child care medicine, a child psychiatrist tends to a child who has mental issues whether acquired or congenital.

Such disorders include; anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.

It’s in their job description to work with patients who display depression or antisocial symptoms and behaviors.

Also, they attend to patients who were born with pre-existing conditions, such as autism or attention deficit disorder.

Furthermore, they prescribe treatment plans using psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and/or medication.

Kindly note that this job can be very rewarding but emotionally difficult, depending on the patients and the issues they are working through.

Many would refer to it as an “Emotional rollercoaster kinda work’.

What Does a Psychiatrist do?

Although generally, their task is to restore the mental health of a patient. However, that process can be diversified. In this role, you could be:

  • Carrying out psychiatric tests.
  • Suggesting practical ways to stay well.
  • Assessing patient’s conditions by enquiring about their thought.
  • Carrying out scans and blood tests to rule out other health conditions.
  • Sourcing information from GPs, relatives, or social workers about the patient.
  • Recommending treatments like counseling or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Prescribing medication such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, and sedatives

What are the Requirements to Become a Child Psychiatrist?

Just like any other profession, before you’re allowed to practice, you will be required to fulfill some criteria.

Becoming a child psychiatrist goes beyond acquiring a university degree or its equivalent.

However, employability skills peculiar to this job, experience, and license is required.

In that regard, we have listed the career requirements for a pediatric psychiatrist. They include;

  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree
  • As a Doctor of Medicine, you must specialize in Psychiatry with a focus on children.
  • Also, you must have at least 4 years of residency training
  • Furthermore, you must have been certified and licensed by the State medical license and board certification. In addition to this, voluntary specialty certification is an added advantage.
  • Possession of the following key skill sets Communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills. Also, candidates must be detailed oriented, possess good judgment, empathy, and patience.

These criteria listed above set you on a good lane to becoming a child psychiatrist. Kindly note that possession of one criterion without the other will delay you.

How Do I Become a Pediatric Psychiatrist?

Without ambiguity, these step-by-step guides will direct you to become a child psychiatrist. Here’s what to do;

#1. Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree

First, you have passion running through your veins. Turn that rush into reality by earning a bachelor’s degree in an accredited school.

A bachelor’s degree in psychiatry or its equivalent is a requirement to enroll in medical school. Most students wonder which course they can major in to acquire a bachelor’s degree. Here’s some you can go for

  • Biology or Health related science course
  • Psychology
  • Liberal arts
  • Humanities.

If you major in any of these, most schools will give you the opportunity to enroll in a pre-medical program.

So this allows students to learn about the health profession and get first-hand knowledge of medical research, educational opportunities, and philosophies in diverse fields of medicine.

Just to give you the tip of the iceberg, courses in pre-medical school include general biology, anatomy, genetics, biochemistry, and organic chemistry.

#2: Prepare for Medical School

After earning a bachelor’s degree, the next step to becoming a child psychiatrist is to apply for med school. We suggest you commence your application before graduation from college.

Following your application to med school is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This test evaluates students’ knowledge of sciences and liberal arts, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Here’s a foreknowledge, Medical school admission is a highly competitive and selective process. To make it in, you have to go beyond excelling in school in order to stand out.

To achieve this, add to your bachelor’s degree volunteering and/or internship.

Aspiring pediatric psychiatrists have the option to volunteer at local mental health centers or hospitals.

Or you can try establishing a solid relationship with college advisors and faculty.

#3: Gain a Medical Degree

The medical degree is one step to solidifying your feet in the becoming a child psychiatrist journey.

Usually, the med school consists of a 4-year program. In the first two years, students typically involve in classroom and laboratory instruction.

In addition, topics such as anatomy, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, pharmacology, and biochemistry are taught.

Also, they will teach courses that can aid future pediatric psychiatrists, such as pediatric medicine, family history, genetics, and human behavior.

Then, the final two years of med school are dedicated to supervised clinical experience.

You might want to go ahead and acquire a Ph.D. degree immediately. Interestingly, you can do this without spending a dime. Apply for scholarships to study abroad programs.

#4: Complete Internship and Residency

Now, this is where the game begins. Potential child psychiatrists must be accepted into a certified psychiatric internship and residency program.

To complete this step, visit children’s hospitals that offer this specialization. Kindly note that the 1-year internship is immediately followed by a 4-year residency program.

Here’s how it’s split, the first two years are focused on general psychiatry and the last two years will focus on the pediatric and adolescent specialization.

Once you complete this step, you’re almost at the finish line. What’s next?

#5: Get a Physician’s License

The license gives you an ultimatum to practice. How do you get that? All potential child psychiatrists must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

In that regard, ready your licensing requirements and renewal procedures. However, these requirements vary by state and country.

#6. Become Board Certified in General Psychiatry

How to Become a child psychiatric nurse
How to Become a child psychiatric nurse

Up next before practicing is certification. The professional pediatric psychiatrist must get certification in general psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Certification requires a degree from a certified medical school and a current state medical license.

Additionally, they must take and pass an exam. Once you acquire this certification, you must renew every 10 years.

However, to remain certified, you must show continuous growth and learn in your career. Attending self-assessment activities, workshops, seminars, and classes offered by approved institutions is a great start.

#7: Consider Board Certification in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Also, in addition to the board certification in general psychiatry, you can earn voluntary certification in your specialty by passing the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (CAP) exam.

This exam is conducted by the ABPN. Prior to this exam is the submission of a letter from your psychiatry training director certifying your competencies and deficiencies.

Once these are set, you can now practice. You can start by applying to the institutions that need your services.

Where Does a Child Psychiatrist Work?

A child psychiatrist can work in a variety of institutions. Unlike some professional jobs with just a particular institution of practice, the pediatrician has numerous options to choose from. Here is a list of places they can work;

  • Prison
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospice programs
  • In-patient care centers
  • Private establishments.
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • University medical centers
  • Client’s home or community.
  • Hospitals: NHS or private hospital.

Now depending on how you schedule your work, one might seem better than the other.

For instance, those who work in 24-hour care centers do not have specified working hours.

This category of psychiatrists might work in the evening and weekends. However, that’s not the case for private practice psychiatrists, they have more control over their schedules.

Therefore, in reference to what you can accommodate, choose a working place that you can easily adapt to that would not encroach on your personal life.

What are the Career Opportunities Available for a Child Psychiatrist?

Depending on how far you want to go in this career, there are diverse opportunities. With experience, you may lead a team, manage a unit or department in a health facility.

Also, teaching and training students, trainee doctors, and other healthcare professionals.

In addition, if you have experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.

What’s the Salary Structure of a Child Psychiatrist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all psychiatrists earn equal to or greater than $208,000. However, child psychiatrists earn about $213,373 per year.

That being said, I’m sure there are still people who want a career as a child psychiatric nurse, don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

How to Become a child psychiatric nurse

After making up your mind to pursue a career in nursing, the next thing to consider will be your area of specialty. for many choosing psychiatric nursing can be a fulfilling choice.

If you are fascinated with the complexity of the human mind, this psychiatric mental-health nursing may be the right fit.

Part biological and part psychological-based,1 the work that a nurse experiences in the field of psychiatric-mental health may be both challenging and rewarding.

Nevertheless, there is a further step in this choice, which could be, becoming a child psychiatric nurse.

What does it mean to be a child or Adolescent psychiatric nurse.

A child adolescent psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an advanced practice nurse who works with children and adolescents with psychiatric problems and focuses on the individual client/patient with health problems.

This advanced practice role is aimed at the early intervention and treatment of children with mental illnesses and includes the use of a wide range of psychotherapeutic skills (e.g. individual, family, and group therapy).

The CNS in psychiatric mental health for children and adolescents works in inpatient and outpatient hospitals as well as in various other facilities such as clinics, schools, community organizations, day clinics, and health services.

Other advanced practice activities include counseling with other professional and non-professional groups and training other professionals, administrators, and researchers.

What are the Educational Requirements to Become A child psychilatric Nurse?

Registered nurse preparation and licensure; advanced practice licensure; and master’s, postmasters, or doctoral preparation in a CNS program in child/adolescent psychiatric mental health nursing are required.

Advanced practice certification requires a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours in the specialty. Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center is available.

What are the Skills needed to become A Child Psychiatric Nurse?

  • Advanced assessment skills
  • Advanced knowledge of pharmacology and pathophysiology
  • Ability to meet the child at his or her developmental level
  • Clinical skill in at least two psychotherapeutic treatment modalities
  • Ability to facilitate coordination and collaboration among agencies delivering care to children
  • Ability to provide services to children and their families
  • Flexibility and sensitivity


While this type of work can be extremely rewarding, it can also be difficult. Hence, a career as a child psychiatrist (nurse or doctor) should be based on a real passion for helping a child in need.

Hence, Working as a child psychiatrist can be a great option for someone interested in medicine but not drawn to sterile surgical facilities.

It is a combination of art and science and involves treating the mind and body.

You connect with patients on an entirely different level, which is incredibly enriching and never gets boring.