Becoming a psychiatrist is a great career to pursue. A psychiatrist is a type of medical doctor that helps individuals with mental illnesses, addictions, mood disorders, and many other mental health problems. Psychiatrists help patients by using several different types of techniques, such as counseling, psychoanalysis, and medication options. While conducting therapy for the patient, the psychiatrist will examine the patient’s behavior by regularly meeting with them. The idea is to keep track of the patient’s mental health and lead them to progress and improvement. In addition, a psychiatrist also can prescribe medicine and decides and alter the types of medicine that will benefit the patient.

The road to becoming a psychiatrist may seem long, but it is worth it if you enjoy helping people overcome emotional problems they may be having. The psychiatrist salary and job outlook are wonderful compared to many other career options. Also, if an individual enjoys psychology and other scientific courses, the training may be interesting and fun for them. If planning to pursue a psychiatry career, some of the issues you will be assessing are panic attacks, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and many more.

What are the differences between a psychiatrist and psychologist?

Some individuals have a hard time differentiating and choosing between becoming a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The main difference is that a psychiatrist can prescribe the patient medications. A psychologist has an advanced degree as well as training in research or clinical practice like a psychiatrist. Both careers use psychotherapy techniques for mental disorders, but only the psychiatrist is able to prescribe medication to patients and clients.

How long does it take to become a psychiatrist?

If your question is how long does it take to become a psychiatrist, the answer is it takes at least eight years after earning a bachelor’s degree to become a psychiatrist. Including undergraduate study, it will take at least twelve years altogether to become a psychiatrist. Prospective students will need to plan on four years in undergraduate school, four years (sometimes five) to complete medical school, and at least four years of residency training. If there is a desire to becoming certified in a specialty area, this will add another one or two years in a fellowship program after the residency training.

What are the education and training requirements to become a psychiatrist?

There are several educational and clinical requirements to becoming a psychiatrist. First, the student must attend college after high school and earn a bachelor’s degree. The student interested in Psychiatry should prepare to attend medical school by earning a bachelor’s in pre-med, psychology, or physical sciences during undergraduate school. In order to get admitted to medical school, the student must continue to have good grades and take impressive undergraduate courses. Biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics are strongly required courses to be considered for medical school. Volunteering at a hospital or clinic will also look good on a resume for medical school admission.

During medical school, there are two different degree programs a prospective psychiatrist can pursue, which are a MD program or a DO program. The MD program is a Doctor of Medicine program, and the DO program is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program. Both degree programs offer the same techniques of treatment; the difference is that the Doctor of Medicine program concentrates more on osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Medical school requires four to five years of training. During the first couple years of medical school training, the psychiatry student will take important courses in pathology, anatomy, biology, and other scientific courses. During the last couple of years, there will be clinical rotations with doctors and medical professionals for the student to attend. The student should plan to gain and improve their psychiatric skills during medical school to prepare for their career. Research programs also look great on one’s background, so it would be an excellent option to participate in these.

Lastly, the student must complete a residency after graduating medical school. Residencies last around three to eight years in a clinic or hospital setting. This is another great time for the student to focus on sharpening their skills to become a psychiatrist. The residency is a critical time working under and taking direction from an actual licensed psychiatrist.

How does someone become a licensed psychiatrist?

Once the student completes medical school and the residency requirement, they can apply for their medical license. If the student graduates from an MD program, they will take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). If the student graduates from the DO program, they will take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam. Assuming the student passes, the medical board must grant the medical license to the student or they will be unable to practice psychiatry.

What are the certification requirements?

After passing the exam and earning the medical license, the student can take the test for the board certification. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology offers the board certification, and students are able to continuously retake it until they pass. The board certification is completely voluntary, but this will show achievement and helps the student’s chances of earning a job. The different types of certification options to choose from are general psychiatry, adolescent psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Additionally, the certification should be renewed every ten years. To renew the certification, psychiatrists must continue being in good standing in their career, be actively practicing, and taking courses in continuing education.

Where are most psychiatrists employed?

Most psychiatrists are currently employed in many different healthcare settings. Some psychiatrists have their own private practice offices. Other psychiatrists choose to work at clinics, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, university medical centers, emergency room departments, community agencies, courts or prisons, nursing homes, rehab facilities, hospice centers, general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, and government and military settings. There are even psychiatrists who work for home health care services that will provide psychiatric services in the comfort of their client’s home. This is a career field with so many employment settings to choose from. Around 50 percent of psychiatrists have their own private practice, and the other 50 percent work in the different types of settings mentioned. With all these options, prospective psychiatrists should have no issue finding a setting to begin their employment in.

What is a psychiatrist’s salary?

Psychiatrist salaries typically range to around $163,660 yearly in the United States. If the psychiatrist is an employee of a physician office, their average yearly salary is around $154,650. The psychiatrists who have jobs at outpatient centers make generally about $190,340 yearly. The mean hourly wage for a psychiatrist is $103.89, and the mean annual wage is estimated to be $216,090. The industries that pay the most in this career field are the local government, home health care services, outpatient centers, and the state government. The states that pay the most for psychiatrists are California, New Jersey, Alaska, South Carolina, and Indiana.

What is the job outlook for a psychiatrist?

The job market for psychiatry is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. In 2018, there were around 25,630 practicing psychiatrists, and this number is supposed to grow by 11 percent by the year 2026. This profession is going to grow much faster than other career fields, and rural areas are expected to be where the most employment opportunities are for psychiatrists. There is a significant shortage in this growing field. Therefore, there is a huge need for more psychiatrists to enter the field. The states with the highest employment level for psychiatry are New York, California, Ohio, Texas, and New Jersey. The industries that have the highest level of employment in this field are psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, general medical and surgical hospitals, and outpatient centers. The competition in this field remains high, and geriatric and child psychiatrists are currently the most needed.


Becoming a psychiatrist is an incredible career choice, and you should invest in learning more about the length of time it will take to be able to practice, determine the costs of training, and find out more about the salary you can earn over time. Choosing a career is never an easy choice, and you should take the time to explore the many different options available within this career field.

Consider applying to our Mental Health Internship Program at International Medical Aid. This internship opportunity will provide you with the hands-on experience and in-depth understanding of the psychiatry medical field. International Medical Aid offers top-rated mental health internships abroad in several different mental health specialties. This is a great opportunity to gain unique learning and overseas experiences while also helping you decide on which specialty you would like to pursue in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists work and focus primarily on the mental health field, so this internship program would be very beneficial when it comes to your future career.