How To Become A Psychiatrist?


How To Become A Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists work with inmates who are dealing with a mixture of issues, including trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Psychiatrists are considered mental strength physicians. Given the in-depth description of their work, it is no wonder that psychiatrists require a tremendous deal of education — depending upon the specialty, up to twelve years of academic study and clinical training is required to bring in a psychiatry degree.

Students sympathetic to becoming a psychiatrist should understand all the educational and clinical requirements, as well as what they will experience upon graduation. This guide focuses on all the pertinent questions for aspiring psychiatrists, incorporating what they should study as an undergraduate, what skills are required, what the job entails, and the credentials obligated to begin work.

Difference Between Psychologist & Psychiatrist

How Long Does It Take To Become A Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a pharmaceutical doctor who specializes in recognize and treating mental health conditions such as mortification, schizophrenia, anxiety, ADHD, and eating disorders. Many, but not all, psychiatrists train in treating a specific type or group of psychological health conditions.

Psychiatrists must complete medical school and an additional four years of residency training in psychiatry. Psychiatrists spend much longer in school than most other mental health professionals. Their medical degrees allow them to prescribe psychotropic medication.


The journey to medical school begins in college, so aspiring psychiatrists must graduate high school or get a GED. From there, the steps are as follows:

  • Graduate college. You don’t need a specific degree to get into medical school. However, most medical schools expect students to have taken and passed one year each of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus, and physics. A pre-med major can help you meet these basic requirements. A high GPA can increase the odds of acceptance into medical school. (The average GPA of accepted applicants is 3.71.)
  • Take the MCAT. This is the medical school entrance exam. The average score for accepted applicants is 511 (out of 528 points total). This 7.5-hour test contains four sections:
    1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
    2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
    3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
    4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Apply and be accepted to medical school.
  • Graduate medical school. Medical school usually takes four years. High medical school grades can increase a student’s odds of getting a good residency.
  • Apply to be a licensed doctor. You should apply in the state where you intend to practice or complete your residency. You’ll generally need to take a state board examination. You may need to meet additional requirements, such as completing a background check.
  • Complete a psychiatric residency. Psychiatry residencies typically take four years. During residency, you’ll learn about and treat a wide range of mental health conditions, usually in a hospital setting.
  • Become board-certified with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Board certification is optional, but most psychiatrists want to be certified. You’ll need to take a board certification exam and renew your certification every 10 years.
  • Complete any additional state licensing requirements. Most states require doctors to complete a certain number of continuing education credits to keep their license.


The amount of time it takes to become a psychiatrist varies from person to person. Some people take longer to graduate college than others. Others take time off after graduation to study for the MCAT. Occasionally, a person is able to complete college more quickly than is typical.

Assuming a person does not take any breaks and graduates on a typical timeline, the time from high school graduation to psychiatric board certification is as follows:

  • 4 years of college
  • 4 years of medical school
  • 4 years of residency

That demands a total of 12 years after high school, so the youngest age at which a psychiatrist can expect to begin practicing is about 30.

How To Become A Psychiatrist Without Medical School

How To Become A Psychiatrist Without Medical School

In layman’s language, psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists can assess both mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.

Although psychiatrists do not treat organic or structural disorders such as epilepsy, consequences of strokes or brain cancers but these orders may also cause psychiatric symptoms and mental alteration in certain patients which requires the ability to make a differential diagnosis and apply the correct treatment.

Psychiatrists need to have a superlative understanding of basic psychology and must acquire psychotherapy skills to attempt to impress the patient’s complication with less medication. Medication in psychiatry is used only when counseling and therapy fail to manufacture noticeable results. Many psychiatric complications such as depression, anxiety, and certain anxieties may be effectively treated through psychotherapy.

Psychiatrists treat a variety of mental disorders ranging from mild and temporary to severe and chronic.

Steps to Become a Psychiatrist

The nature of the work of a psychiatrist is in-depth and it requires a great deal of education. Depending upon the specialty, it may take up to twelve years of academic study and clinical training to earn a psychiatry degree. Below is a step by step guide on how to become a psychiatrist.

Step1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

Students must complete their bachelor’s degree program from an accredited institution before applying to med school. Although there is no specific major required for aspiring psychiatrists, a good choice would be to focus on pre-med, physical sciences or psychology or a combination of all the three by utilizing a double major or minor.

Medical school admissions are very competitive. Hence maintaining high grades and an impressive list of courses during undergraduate are of utmost importance. Students may plan ahead for the next step in their journey by taking advantage of any prep classes offered for the MCA

Step2. Take the Medical College Admission Test

Most medical schools in the United States use the standardized Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) as the eligibility criteria of a student interested to study psychiatry. MCAT comprises three multiple-choice sections covering biological science, physical science, writing, and oral reasoning. Students should take the test a year before they intend to apply for medical school. Students are allowed to take the test as many times as necessary in order to pass.

Those that need to retake the test can sign up for a new test two days after their previous exam. The evaluation process for admission into a med school is determined by the prospective student’s MCAT score and their undergraduate study performance.

Step3. Graduate from Med School

Students need to choose between two designations to become a psychiatrist: Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine. Medical school generally lasts four years. The first two years in the medical school are spent in classrooms and labs studying courses including behavioral science, biochemistry, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, psychiatry, and pharmacology.

During the final two years of psychiatry, students work in clinical settings diagnosing and treating real-time patients under the supervision of experienced doctors. Students have to serve clinical clerkships to gain experience in at least five specialized areas. Clerkship in psychiatry involves treating patients with mental disorders.

Step4. Complete a Residency

After graduating from medical schools, psychiatry students must complete at least 4 years in residency training. During the first year of residency, a student must treat a broad range of medical illnesses in patients. The resident then trains for at least three more years diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. Residents must hone their psychotherapy abilities during their time in residency. Prospective psychiatrists work directly with patients under the supervision of experienced psychiatrists. Residents participate in didactic learning, seminars, and research.

Step5. Serve a Fellowship

Some psychiatrists opt for a career in a psychiatric subspecialty which requires additional training. As per the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, there are ten psychiatric subspecialties including geriatric psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, child and youth psychiatry, addictions, and forensic psychiatry. A subspecialty fellowship involves 1 year training period after psychiatry residency training. Fellowship programs involve clinical work under the supervision of licensed doctors as well as courses, seminars, case conferences, and research projects.

Step6. Get Licensed and Board Certified

After successful completion of medical school and residency, students have to apply for their medical license and board certification to be able to practice. Those that graduate as MD take the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) while those that graduate as DO takes the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). Eligibility criteria for licensure include graduation from an accredited medical program, finishing residency training, and passing required licensing tests.

After receiving their medical license, students take the examination for board certification which is offered through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Students can take this test as many times as necessary in order to pass and it is optional. Certification improves job prospects and must be renewed every ten years.

How To Become A Psychiatrist With A Psychology Degree

The average cost to become a psychiatrist varies depending on where a person goes to school, whether they receive student loans, and whether they live in an area with a high cost of living. Out-of-state students who attend four-year public colleges spend about $23,890 per year in tuition, for a total of $95,560. This does not take into account the cost of books, room and board, food, and student fees, which can be several thousand dollars per year.

Out-of-state students attending public medical schools pay an average of $58,668 in tuition per year, for a total of $234,672. The cost of books, room and board, and other expenses can greatly increase this price tag.

This means that taken together, for an out-of-state public school student, the cost of medical school and college is about $330,000. In-state public school students typically pay less, while private school students may pay double or even triple this sum.

Psychiatry residencies typically pay $60,800 a year. However, some residents may feel underpaid for the amount of work and expertise involved. Many psychiatrists spend the first several years of their career life playing financial catch-up and struggling with student loan debt. According to Medscape, the average American-trained psychiatrist in 2018 earned about $256,000 per year.


You don’t need a psychology degree to become a psychiatrist. In fact, most people planning to go to medical school choose pre-med, biochemistry, or a similar major, not psychology.

You must, however, go to medical school to become a psychiatrist. People interested in treating mental health conditions who do not want to go to medical school may wish to consider careers as therapists or psychologists instead. Those interested in the medical side of mental health may enjoy a career as a psychiatric nurse or psychiatric physician assistant.

Various sub-specialties in psychiatry may require additional training. The specific path depends on the specialty, so it is important to research your chosen career. Doctors who know they want to practice within a specific sub-specialty should pursue residencies in that specialty.


The process of becoming a psychiatrist in Canada is substantially similar to the process in the United States, with two exceptions: Only 11 of 17 Canadian medical schools require the MCAT, and psychiatric residencies in Canada are 5 years, not 4 years. Psychiatrists must be registered through the College of Physicians and Surgeons or a provincial college.

The educational system in the UK is much different, and so too is the process of becoming a psychiatrist. After completing high school, students apply to medical school, which lasts 4-6 years. Next, students begin foundation training, which is a paid program similar to a medical residency. Foundation training usually takes 2 years. Students must complete an additional three years on core psychiatry training, followed by 3 years of higher psychiatry training.


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