How to Become a Psychiatrist – Career Path, Salary and Job Description

How to become a psychiatrist: Do you want to become a psychiatrist? are you asking how long does it take to become a psychiatrist? or can you become a psychiatrist online? well, The REEDEEP study portal has put together this amazing article to help you make a decision.

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Psychiatrists treat a variety of mental illnesses, but not all of them.

A Psychiatrist work in a range of settings depending on their area of specialty, despite the fact that many of them create a private practice.

To become a psychiatrist, one must attend medical school as well as a four-year psychiatric residency program.

So, if you want to be a psychiatrist in a shorter time, you’ll need to first have an undergraduate degree in the field.

And this article covers all you need to know about becoming a psychiatrist,

including educational requirements, licensure, career, and salary outlook expectations, specialties, and more.

Read on to explore your queries.

Table of contents

Who is a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatry is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

Hence, a psychiatrist is a medical practitioner who specializes in mental health, particularly substance abuse issues (an M.D. or D.O.).

Psychiatrists are trained to evaluate both the mental and physical components of mental illnesses.

Despite the fact that their occupations are similar in many aspects, psychiatrists and psychologists are not the same.

Psychiatrists receive medical training that allows them to write prescriptions and execute operations.

Counseling and non-medical support are the main services provided by psychologists.

What Do Psychiatrists Do?

The basic psychiatrist job description totally depends on where they’re working at a particular time.

However, Psychiatrists spend the majority of their time with patients. They evaluate treatment regimens and keep precise records on their patients’ progress when they are not with them.

In medical hospitals, psychiatrists frequently interact with other doctors to ensure that a patient’s treatment plan is being followed or to change it as needed.

In rehabilitation clinics, psychiatrists frequently visit with a patient’s family and support group to keep them informed and actively involved in treatment.

Psychiatrists assess patients by talking about their medical history and symptoms, and may prescribe lab testing or other investigations.

They’ll think about whether or not the patient’s symptoms are tied to a physical ailment.

A psychiatrist may give medication and other therapies, including as light therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and talk therapy, if a diagnosis has been made. He or she may also send the patient to a specialist like a psychologist.

When you go to see a psychiatrist, they’ll ask you about your mental and physical problems first. This may include a physical examination, laboratory tests, and/or a psychological assessment.

Depending on the needs of each patient, psychiatrists use a number of treatments, including various forms of psychotherapy, drugs, psychosocial interventions, and other treatments (such as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT).

Psychiatrists frequently work with patients who suffer from illnesses that can be helped by medicine, such as the following:

  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Bipolar and related disorders
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders
  • Elimination disorders
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Substance-related and addictive disorders
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Sleep disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Feeding and eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

still in interested? how can i become a psychiatrist

Is Becoming a Psychiatrist Worth It?

Psychiatrists may make a big difference in the lives of those suffering from mental illnesses, from panic attacks to clinical depression to substance misuse disorders.

It’s rewarding employment for people who appreciate assisting others, as well as financially rewarding and prestigious. However, as with any job, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Approximately 20% of all psychiatrists are self-employed; many start their own practice after several years of working in a hospital setting.

Many professionals choose private practice because it affords them more flexibility and freedom. Who wouldn’t want to be their own employer, after all?

Also, job market that is rapidly expanding. Psychiatrists are expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, especially in rural and low-income areas.

This is most likely due to the fast growing need for mental health specialists, particularly those who have treated substance misuse disorders.

Potential for a lot of money. Psychiatrists had a median yearly income of $216,090 in 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates a figure of $220,380.

How to Become a Psychiatrist: Steps to Becoming a Psychiatrist

To become a psychiatrist, you must first attend medical school. Obtaining an undergraduate degree, perhaps in pre-med or psychology, is the initial stage in the process.

The individual must apply to medical school after graduation. After four years of medical school, the graduate is required to take an examination in order to obtain a medical license.

They then complete a four-year residency in psychiatry. To become a professional psychiatrist, most psychiatrists must work for at least 12 years.

Extra training, such as specialized training in certain fields of psychiatry, is required of psychiatrists who wish to gain additional certification.

Here are the step by step procedure to take to become a Psychiatrist in shorter time.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a psychiatrist is to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution preferably a bachelor’s degree in science.  

Focusing on pre-med, physical sciences, or psychology — or a combination of the three through a double major or minor — is an excellent way to prepare for medical school.

Because aspiring psychiatrists must receive a medical school diploma, undergraduates should pursue the types of courses required for medical school admission, such as biology, chemistry, physics, and arithmetic.

Psychology, biology, and pre-med are all good majors to declare. Volunteering in mental health clinics, completing an internship at a local hospital, and joining psychiatric and pre-medical groups can all help a student boost his or her chances of acceptance into highly competitive medical schools during this time.

In order to be accepted into medical school, the student must also study for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Only the most competent individuals are allowed into medical school, so it is critical that the student maintains excellent marks.

Step 2: Take the Medical College Admission Test

To get admitted to a medical school in the United States, you must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The MCAT is a multiple-choice exam developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that covers physical science, biological science, oral reasoning, and writing.

A passing MCAT score is a baseline condition for consideration, even though medical schools analyze the merits of a student’s whole application. A score of 511 points (out of a possible total of 528) is considered acceptable by most schools.

The MCAT must be taken a year before you plan to begin medical school. The MCAT can only be taken three times in a year, four times in two years, and seven times in a lifetime.

Medical schools frequently consider your MCAT score as well as your undergraduate performance when deciding whether or not to admit you.

Step 3: Apply to Medical School

You’ll apply to medical school after you finish your degree. You can anticipate to spend four years acquiring either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree after acceptance.

The student learns about anatomy, histology, pathology, physiology, and other aspects of the human body during this time. They also study about medical ethics, pharmacology, and other topics that are relevant to a career in psychiatry.

Medical school is normally four years long. A student’s chances of receiving a good residency can be improved if they get strong grades in medical school.

Clinical clerkships may also be required of you. A clerkship is designed to provide you with experience in a range of fields, including surgery, neurology, and family medicine.

#4: Earn License to Practice Medicine

After completing their education, students will sit for a test to obtain a license to practice medicine. Individual states grant such permits, and the process varies by state.

The state licensing board will likely conduct a background check to confirm that the candidate is of high moral character.

After passing the exam, the time between submitting an application for a medical license and receiving approval should be at least 60 days.

To apply for a medical license, you must finish at least one year of internship or the first year of residency. Depending on the state, you may need to stay for longer than a year.

Equally, you must receive a license from your state’s medical board to legally practice psychiatry in all states. The standards for licensure vary by state, but you’ll almost always have to pass an exam that assesses your understanding of medical procedures and state rules.

If you distribute medication to your patients, you may also need to register with your state.

Step 5: Complete Residency Training

The next stage is to complete a four-year residency in a hospital or clinic, preferably in the state where you intend to practice medicine. The candidate is trained in disciplines such as drug dependency, neurology, and psychometrics during this time.

At the same time, the resident is assigned to either a mental ward or a psychiatric hospital. The first year of residency, however, is spent in general medical rotations, with a focus on family medicine.

After that, expect to focus on neurology for a few months. From there, the rest of the residency focuses on psychiatry, and includes a year of inpatient psychiatry followed by a year of outpatient psychiatry.

You will receive training in a variety of fields during your residency, including forensic psychology, neurology, and chemical dependency, before concentrating your electives and clinical experience in a specific specialty during your final year.

You can also treat a variety of mental illnesses under supervision, including as depression, anxiety, substance misuse, psychosis, sexual dysfunction, and developmental disabilities.

Step 6: Obtain a Psychiatric Practice License

You’ll need to get a license to practice psychiatry at this stage. Because each state has its own regulations and examinations, it is advisable to complete a residency in the state where you intend to practice.

If you move out of state, you must take a new exam to qualify for a license in that state, as well as study the rules and laws that govern licensure in that state.

Also, consider joining a professional group while attending medical school. Medical students, psychiatric residents, and practicing psychiatrists can join the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Step 7: Obtain a Psychiatric Practice License

Finally, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology will require you to be certified (ABPN). While not required, a doctor’s career options are limited if he or she does not receive such certification.

Before applying for certification, the ABPN needs previous licensure to practice medicine in one state or territory. Certification testing is available in the United States.

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) also offers certificates in psychiatric subspecialties. The certification is valid for a period of ten years.

Psychiatrists must then retain their certification by attending continuing education classes and self-evaluation. A specialist psychiatrist must complete 30 hours of appropriate continuing education courses.

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Psychiatrist

What Skills are needed to become a Successful Psychiatrist?

When treating patients, psychiatrists must have excellent listening skills as well as great observational skills. They must be able to argue inductively and deductively.

The former is the ability to apply facts and reasoning to a situation in order to arrive at a solution, whereas the latter is the ability to draw a conclusion by combining previously collected data.

Other skill sets that are required include:

  • Good communication skills – oral and written Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Respect for patients and their problems
  • Good coping mechanisms
  • Sensitivity
  • Perception

Dealing with patients who have mental or emotional problems can be challenging, and the doctor must demonstrate that he or she can handle these situations.

Psychiatrists must be able to tell when a patient is lying or giving false information, as well as when they are being sincere and honest.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Psychiatrist?


The average cost of becoming a psychiatrist varies based on where one attends school, whether or not they receive student loans, and whether or not they live in a high-cost-of-living area.

Out-of-state students pay around $23,890 each year in tuition at four-year public colleges, for a total of $95,560.

However, this does not include the costs of books, accommodation and board, food, or student fees, which can run into the thousands of dollars per year.

Out-of-state medical school students spend an average of $58,668 per year in tuition, for a total of $234,672. Books, accommodation and board, and other expenditures might significantly boost the price tag.

This means that the total expense of medical school plus college for an out-of-state public school student is over $330,000. Those attending public schools in their home state often pay less, whereas students attending private schools may pay twice or even triple the amount.

Psychiatry residencies pay around $60,800 per year on average. Some inhabitants, on the other hand, may feel underpaid for the amount of effort and knowledge required.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatrist?

How Many Years is it to become a Psychiatrist? The time it takes to become a psychiatrist differs from one person to the next. Some people take longer than others to finish college. Others take a year or two off after college to prepare for the MCAT. Occasionally, a student will be able to finish college sooner than expected.

The period from high school graduation to psychiatric board certification is as follows, assuming no breaks and graduating on a regular schedule:

  • 4 years of university
  • Medical school lasts four years.
  • Residency for four years

That requires a total of 12 years following high school, so a psychiatrist can expect to start practicing at the age of 30.

Psychiatrist Careers & Salary

The working hours of a psychiatrist are usually determined by their place of employment. Psychiatrists in private practice typically see patients during regular business hours, but psychiatrists in hospitals typically work shifts.

Many psychiatrists are accessible for emergency consultations outside of normal business hours. Psychiatrists can specialize in one or more illnesses, such as addiction or depression.

Some people specialize in dealing with a particular group of people, such as children or veterans. Psychiatrists frequently operate in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospital visits, and outpatient clinics.

Psychiatry, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is one of the highest-paying professions, with an average annual compensation of more than $217,000 dollars.

The BLS does not break down the career prospects for different types of doctors, but between 2014 and 2024, all occupations related to physicians are predicted to rise by 15%.

Potential Career Paths

While some psychiatrists practice general medicine, many others specialize in treating specific patients. Additional experience or training in specific subjects, as well as relevant certification, are frequently included in these specialities.

Some examples of such fields are:

  • Child Psychiatry
  • Psychometrics
  • Addiction Psychiatry
  • Emergency Psychiatry
  • Neuropsychiatrist
  • Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Organizational Psychiatrists
  • Learning Disability Psychiatry
  • Pain Psychiatry
  • Rehabilitation Psychiatry
  • Psychoanalysis

Career Outlook

Psychiatrists number is around 45,000 in the United States. Over the next decade, the numbers are likely to remain steady or expand somewhat.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one out of every four people will encounter a mental health problem each year, hence the demand for psychiatrists is expected to stay high.

Do Psychiatrists Get Paid Well?

Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can treat mental, emotional, and behavioural illnesses using treatment, medication, and hospitalization.

This distinguishes them from psychologists, who are limited to using therapy as part of their treatment plan. Psychiatrist wages and benefits vary depending on the firm and location of the position.

Psychiatrists earned an average annual salary of $220,430 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary levels, however, are influenced by a number of things.

The greatest pay goes to psychiatrists who work for local governments (excluding schools and hospitals) ($255,070). Home health care services ($253,090), outpatient care centers ($250,230), and residential care facilities ($240,630) are among the highest-paying industries.

The earning potential of a professional is heavily influenced by their experience. Early career psychiatrists (those with less than one year of experience) earn an average of $194,486 a year, according to PayScale. Practitioners with more experience (5-9 years) make $205,504.

Can I Become a Psychiatrist with a Psychology Degree?

Psychiatrists do not require a psychology degree. In fact, the majority of people who plan to attend medical school major in pre-med, biochemistry, or a related field rather than psychology.

However, to become a psychiatrist, you must first attend medical school. People who don’t want to go to medical school but want to help people with mental illnesses should think about becoming therapists or psychologists.

Psychiatric nurses and psychiatric physician assistants are two options for those interested in the medical aspect of mental health.

Psychiatrists may need additional training in a variety of sub-specialties. Because the precise path depends on the speciality, it’s crucial to do your homework before making a decision.

Meanwhile, Doctors who are certain they want to practice in a certain sub-specialty should apply for residencies in that field.

Alternative Paths to Becoming a Psychiatrist

Other than attending medical school and completing a psychiatric residency, there are no viable alternatives to becoming a psychiatrist.

A psychologist is an alternative for people who want to work in the field of mental health but do not want to go to medical school.

In certain aspects, psychology and psychiatry are related, although clinical psychologists must still have a PhD to practice.

To acquire a master’s degree in psychology and then a doctorate in psychology, it takes about the same length of time as it does to become a psychiatrist.

How Do You Become a Psychiatrist in Canada and UK?

With two exceptions, the process of becoming a psychiatrist in Canada is quite comparable to that in the United States: only 11 of 17 Canadian medical schools require the MCAT, and psychiatric residencies in Canada are five years rather than four.

Meanwhile, the Institution of Physicians and Surgeons or a provincial college must register psychiatrists.

The school system in the United Kingdom differs significantly from that in the United States, as does the process of becoming a psychiatrist. Students apply to medical school after graduating from high school, which lasts 4-6 years.

Following that, students begin foundation training, a compensated program akin to a medical residency. Typically, foundation training takes two years.

Also, students must then finish three years of core psychiatric training before moving on to three years of higher psychiatry training.


If you want to be a psychiatrist, you should be aware of all of the clinical and educational requirements, as well as what to expect after graduation.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps of become a psychiatrist, answering all of your questions about what classes you should take as an undergraduate, what qualifications you’ll need to start working, and what the job requires.

Hope you got your answer? Hit the comment section for more clarification.


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