How to Become a Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has gained a specialization in the field of mental health.

They work one on one with patients to help them deal with a range of psychological problems.

A psychiatrist will use many methods to help their patients.

They may prescribe drugs, offer counseling, or try alternative treatment methods.

A psychiatrist may see a patient once, or regularly for a longer period of time.

Sometimes this relationship may even last years.

Psychiatrists often help people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, but may also help people who have been through a traumatic event, or simply need someone to talk to about their emotional problems.

Search for Psychiatrist Programs Now!
Choose a Program

sponsored schools

To become a psychiatrist, you’ll need to have really strong communication skills.

You will also need to have a good understanding of people, but also have the ability to distance yourself from their problems as well.

You will need to be very strong, academically speaking, as there is much study involved in becoming a psychiatrist.

Education Requirements to Become a Psychiatrist

To become a psychiatrist, you’ll be faced with a lot of study.

First, you need to get good grades in high school, particularly in math and science.

You will then need to obtain a four-year bachelors degree at a school with a good pre-medicine program.

After you finish college, you’ll need to attend medical school.

Here you will spend four years, completing both theoretical work in the classroom, as well as gaining practical experience with patients.

After medical school you will need to complete a psychiatry residency, which takes another four years to complete.

Here you will start working with patients with psychological illness, and gain some practical insight into the role you will be performing.

Depending on the state you live in, you will be required to sit for licensing exams to work as a doctor and as a psychiatrist.

These rules vary between states.

Psychiatrist Job Description

A psychiatrist works with patients to diagnose and treat a range of psychological problems and illnesses.

A patient is usually referred to a psychiatrist by a medical doctor.

The psychiatrist will meet with a patient initially to obtain a medical history and have a discussion about the patient’s reasons for seeing a psychiatrist.

They may refer the patient to take external tests also.

The next step is to devise a treatment plan.

This could involve taking medications, counseling, group therapy, or other methods.

Some plans are aimed at curing a person of a particular condition.

Others are aimed at helping the patient to live as normal a life as possible.

Some of the tasks of a psychiatrist include:

  • Appointment setting
  • Meeting with patients
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Prescribing drugs
  • Counseling patients
  • Communicating with family members
  • Communicating with colleagues

Many psychiatrists will operate within a specific area.

Some of these include:

  • Addiction psychiatry
  • Adult psychiatry
  • Child psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Neuropsychiatry

Psychiatrist Salary and Career Path

Psychiatrists work in hospitals, consulting suites, nursing homes, or in their own private practices.

After finishing their schooling, most will work for a large organization, such as a hospital, for a few years.

When you first become a psychiatrist, it’s essential to build a good reputation with medical doctors so that you can get referral work later on.

Many end up special practices, like the ones mentioned above.

Some will later become professors and teach psychiatry to young students.

Others may become researchers while some will take on supervisory positions within health care.

Some similar roles a psychiatrist could later work in could be:

The median salary for a psychiatrist is $160,000 a year.

Those working within areas of specialization, or working out of their own consulting rooms, have the potential to earn far more.

The top practitioners earn over $300,000 a year.

If you’re interested in medicine, along with psychology and the inner-workings of the human mind, then psychiatry is a career you may find rewarding.

Deciding to become a psychiatrist opens you up to very strong employment prospects, a high salary, and the opportunity for further professional development later on in your career.

Top Programs

Find a Program