In 2022, How to Become a Psychiatrist


What does a psychiatrist do? – As a doctor, you likely know that psychiatry is one of the most important fields of medicine. It’s responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. But what does it mean to be a psychiatrist? And how do you become one?

Learn About Being a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are professionals who diagnose, treat, and manage mental health conditions. They work with patients and their families to help them get well. Psychiatrists have a wide range of skills and experience that they can use to help people with mental health issues. They can provide therapy, medication, and guidance on a case-by-case basis. In addition, psychiatrists can help you find a job or housing after getting your license.

Psychiatrists are professionals who diagnose and treat mental disorders. They work with patients in their homes, inpatient clinics, and in the outpatient setting. Psychiatrists use a variety of medical and psychological methods to diagnose, treat, and prevent mental health problems.

What is Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrist is a professional name given to psychiatrists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of major mental disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Psychiatrists often work with other professionals, including psychologists and social workers, to help people with mental illness. They can provide care inpatient or outpatient, and may also work with family and friends to support people with mental illnesses.

Psychiatrist is also a medical doctor who specialty in mental health. Psychiatrists are responsible for diagnosing, treating and managing mental health conditions. They work with patients in their home or office. Psychiatrists also provide care to people who have been discharged from hospitals or mental health clinics.

What does a psychiatrist do?

Psychiatrists are specialists in mental health. They can help you deal with problems like anxiety, depression, and stress. They can also provide you with treatment for substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues. Psychiatrists work with patients in their homes or in the community.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with expertise in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental health disorders. Some of the duties psychiatrists typically have are:

  • Assessing a patient’s symptoms and determining their source, which could include mental illness, physical illness or a combination

  • Diagnosing a patient’s mental health condition through the use of tests and examinations

  • Prescribing a treatment plan for a patient depending on their needs, making use of medication and psychotherapy

  • Referring a patient to a mental health counselor or psychologist for specialized therapy

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Average salary

Psychiatrists generally receive a higher than average salary, though their exact salary can vary widely depending on regional factors, their certifications, psychiatry specializations and their chosen work environment. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $222,775 per year

  • Some salaries range from $65,000 to $477,000 per year.

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Psychiatrist requirements

Becoming a psychiatrist takes years of education and training. Before they can practice, psychiatrists in the United States are required to have a doctorate’s degree in medicine and undergo a residency period.

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Many psychiatrists choose a bachelor’s degree in a discipline such as pre-med, psychology or another related field. These courses teach the fundamentals of psychology, biology and chemistry, which will prepare the psychiatrist for medical school. After completing their undergraduate degree, psychiatrists must pass the Medical College Admission Test and earn a medical degree. A medical degree trains the psychiatrist in general medical knowledge and prepares them for their residency.


Psychiatrists must complete a residency at a hospital or a clinic after graduating from medical school to specialize in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatric residencies last four years and train an aspiring psychiatrist through the practical application of lessons with live patients. Psychiatry residents work under the supervision of a lead psychiatrist to master the process of treating patients.


Practicing psychiatrists have multiple types of certifications they can pursue to increase their earning capacity and help them find open positions more easily. Here are the most common certifications psychiatrists will achieve for their profession:

State psychiatry licensure

To practice psychiatry in the United States, a psychiatrist must become licensed in their state. Each state has a unique process for becoming licensed, though they typically include tests to validate a psychiatrist’s knowledge of a state’s particular medical regulations and medication laws.

American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) certification

The ABPN is an internationally respected authority for psychiatry standards. The ABPN requires certified psychiatrists to participate in a Continuous Maintenance of Certificate program, which serves as a source of continued learning and demonstrates dedication to the psychiatry practice. ABPN-certified psychiatrists generally have a higher earning capacity.

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An effective psychiatrist will need strong social skills. Some of the most important skills for a psychiatrist to master include:


Psychiatrists help patients who often experience vague symptoms without much external evidence of their presence. Patients in these situations can experience fear or isolation, and they’ll need to confide in an understanding individual who tries to connect with their feelings. A psychiatrist must remain empathetic to their patients to make them feel comfortable and safe with their treatment.

Clinical knowledge

Psychiatrists will need to maintain a vast and comprehensive understanding of their field. A psychiatrist must possess in-depth knowledge of current clinical theories and mental health disorders.

Communication skills

Patients may not find it easy to communicate their situation to a psychiatrist initially. A psychiatrist must find effective communication methods with their resistant patients. Psychiatrists are skilled in helping patients feel validated and comfortable with directly expressing their feelings.

Leadership skills

If a patient has a team of specialists, the psychiatrist may act as the team leader. A patient’s multidisciplinary team may include psychologists, social workers, nurses and specialized therapists depending on the patient’s needs. In these cases, the psychiatrist must be capable of managing a patient’s treatment plan effectively.

Problem-solving skills

Psychiatrists analyze and diagnose the mental health of their patients to develop appropriate treatment plans. A psychiatrist must be skilled in critical thinking and problem-solving to determine the source of a patient’s ailments. Only then can a psychiatrist decide which treatment options are best suited for each patient.

Psychiatrist work environment

Psychiatrists work in general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, clinics or government organizations, or they may open their own private practices. It is not uncommon for a psychiatrist to simultaneously work in multiple locations to maximize their time. Private practice psychiatrists can usually choose their own schedules, but most organizations have psychiatrists work regular business hours every weekday.

How to become a psychiatrist

You can follow these general steps to become a psychiatrist:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

Earning a four-year bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, psychology, biology or another related field will provide you with the fundamental knowledge you’ll need to obtain a medical degree. It may be useful to take Medical College Admissions Test preparation courses as a part of your undergraduate degree.

2. Take the MCAT.

The MCAT is an internationally recognized examination required by all students in the United States seeking admission to medical degree programs. Studying for the MCAT and taking practice examinations will help you ensure you’re prepared for the actual exam.

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3. Earn a medical degree.

After passing the MCAT, you’ll need to complete a four-year medical degree program and earn a medical degree. Your medical education will provide you with more practical and direct experience working with human anatomy and psychology, and it will teach you the fundamentals of patient care.

4. Complete a medical residency.

After graduating from medical school, you’ll need to undergo a four-year psychiatry residency at a hospital or clinic to become eligible for your psychiatry license. Your residency will train you in the daily routine of the position and provide you with experience treating patients under the supervision of a senior psychiatrist. Your residency will also teach you psychiatric practice laws and regulations in your state to help prepare you for your licensing exam.

5. Obtain a psychiatry license.

Upon completion of your four-year residency period, you must acquire a license to practice psychiatry in your state. Each state has its own licensing requirements, but they tend to involve an examination of your knowledge in the field of psychiatry as well as the particular laws and regulations of psychiatric practice in your state. Once you’ve earned your state psychiatry license, you’ll be prepared to start the search for a psychiatry position or to start your own private practice.

Psychiatrist job description example

St. Mary’s Hospital is looking for a new psychiatrist to join our mental health department. The ideal candidate will be empathetic, communicative and dedicated to helping others through some of the most challenging experiences in their lives. You should be comfortable working with patients to diagnose and treat all ranges of psychiatric trauma. You will work with members of the mental health department and with doctors of other specialties to develop and implement comprehensive patient plans, including the use of diagnostic examinations, prescription of medication and psychotherapy sessions.

A medical degree with a credited psychiatry residency is required. ABPN-certified candidates are preferred. All applicants must be licensed to practice psychiatry in the state of Utah.

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