Psychiatrists are doctors who help patients deal with mental difficulties and other emotional problems. They hospitalize patients, use medication and perform treatments like psychotherapy to address multiple problems. They are different from psychologists as they are trained professionals who have the ability to prescribe medications.

Should I Become a Psychiatrist?

Education Required Medical Degree
Major Requirement Medicine
Training Required
Licenses/Certifications Required
Key Skills Problem Solving Skills, Listening Skills, Communication Skills, Familiarity with Computer Software and Good Social Awareness
Annual Mean Salary (2019) $220,430 (Psychiatrists)
Job Outlook (2018-28) 16%

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Becoming a psychiatrist is a time taking process which requires passion and determination. However, people who like to help others and improve their well-being enjoy being a part of this field. These professionals work closely with patients and figure out the root cause of their problems.

Career Outlook

Psychiatrists deliver diverse services like diagnosing and treating emotional and psychological problems, providing medications and conducting tests, etc. A combination of all these functions help these professionals paint a more holistic image of the patient’s mental state. People are now less hesitant to visit a psychiatrist as they used to be in the past. This has contributed to the rapid growth of the profession. As reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatrists will be experiencing 16% growth from 2018-2028.

Steps to Become a Psychiatrist

  1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Students have to earn a bachelor’s degree before they can apply for medical school. No pre-medical major is required at this stage; however, taking science related courses helps later on.

  1. Give the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  2. MCAT is a standardized exam which is used as a criterion by all medical schools during the admission process. This test covers various topics from physical science, biological science, writing and oral reasoning.

  1. Get a Graduate Degree
  2. Prospective psychiatrists have to complete a 4-year graduate degree program which results in either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) degree. During the initial two years, students spend time in laboratory and classrooms studying topics from courses like biochemistry, pathology, physiology and anatomy, etc. However, during the last two years they work with professionals and cure medical conditions. Students complete their clinical clerkships which involve treating patients. During this process, they get experience in 5 specialty areas at least.

    A few aspiring psychiatrists also join a particular professional association to gain exposure. The American Psychological Association (APA) is one of the most prestigious associations for medical students, practicing psychiatrists and psychiatric residents.

  1. Complete Residency Program
  2. Aspiring psychiatrists have to complete a 4-year long residency program in Psychiatry. During the first year they learn how to treat illnesses, while during the last 3 years they learn to diagnose diseases, prescribe medication or therapy. Residents work under the supervision of psychiatrists.

  1. Serve a Fellowship
  2. Psychiatrists who want to specialize in a particular area have to serve an additional year of fellowship post residency program. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) recognizes 10 sub-specialties in the field of psychiatry and professionals can choose any of them.

  1. Obtain Licensure
  2. Licensure requirements vary from state to state; however, there are a few general requirements which include graduation from an accredited program, completion of a residency program and passing state specific licensing tests. All candidates have to pass the U.S Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX).

  1. Get Certified
  2. Even though it is not necessary, some psychiatrists obtain certificates from the board. The ABPN certifies psychiatrists who meet their requirements.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatrist?

Prospective psychiatrists have to complete a 4-year undergraduate program followed by a 4-year graduate program. Once the education requirements are fulfilled, students have to complete a 4-year residency program and an additional year of fellowship.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Psychiatrist

Following are the requirements to become a Psychiatrist:

  • Earn an undergraduate degree
  • Take the MCAT and earn a medical degree
  • Finish the medical residency and fellowship program
  • Obtain licensure and certification

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Psychiatrist?

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatrists working in the US were earning an annual mean salary of $220,430 in 2019.