Are you looking for a career that will allow you to help others in need? If so, becoming a psychiatrist may be the perfect fit! As a psychiatrist, you’ll be able to diagnose and treat mental health disorders while providing psychological assessments. 

Becoming a psychiatrist requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are worth it. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what it takes to become a successful psychiatrist, including how long it takes and what skills are required. From salary expectations to job growth potential, you’ll learn all there is to know about this rewarding career path. 

Ready to learn how to become a psychiatrist? Let’s dive in!

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating mental health issues. They help people with depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental illnesses by using a combination of talk therapy, medication, and other treatment methods. 

Psychiatrists work closely with their patients to understand their problems and develop an effective plan for recovery. During treatment, psychiatrists will assess the patient’s progress regularly and make adjustments as necessary. They also work to educate their patients on how to better manage their mental health and cope with stressors in their lives. Psychiatrists play an important role in helping people live happier, healthier lives.

A psychiatrist is a valuable resource for those seeking help in dealing with mental health issues. With the right combination of knowledge, experience, and dedication, psychiatrists can be a great source of support and guidance to their patients. 

With the right steps taken, you, too, can become a successful psychiatrist and make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most! Now, let’s take a look at what it takes to get started on the path to becoming a psychiatrist.

Steps to Becoming a Psychiatrist

Becoming a psychiatrist is an exciting and rewarding career path. It requires significant time, money, and dedication, but the rewards are well worth it! Here are some steps to get you started on the journey toward becoming a psychiatrist:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

If you want to become a psychiatrist, the first step is to earn your bachelor’s degree. You can major in psychology or a related field like biology or chemistry, and supplement your studies with classes in physics and math. This will provide you with the foundation of knowledge you need to succeed in medical school. 

Additionally, consider volunteering at a clinic or hospital during your undergraduate years to get some hands-on experience and make yourself more attractive as an applicant for medical school. With hard work and dedication, you can be well on your way toward a successful career as a psychiatrist!

2. Take the medical college admission test

Taking the MCAT is a critical step in becoming a psychiatrist. The MCAT is a multiple-choice examination that covers physical science, biological science, oral reasoning, and writing. Most medical schools use your score on this test to determine whether they will accept you into their program.

It’s important to take the MCAT a year before you plan to start medical school. You can take the test up to three times in one year, four times in two years, and seven times in a lifetime. Doing well on the MCAT can give you an edge over other applicants and help you get accepted into a top-notch psychiatry program!

3. Pursue a medical degree

Once you have completed the MCAT and been accepted into a medical school, it’s time to start your medical degree. Depending on the type of program you choose, this can take anywhere from three to seven years. 

During your studies, you will learn about pharmacology, anatomy, chemistry and physiology. You will also participate in clinical clerkships where you will diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of experienced physicians. After completing your medical degree, you will be well-prepared to pursue a career in psychiatry.

4. Join a professional organization

Joining a professional organization can be a great way to stay connected with the field of psychiatry and receive valuable resources, such as continuing education opportunities. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is open to medical students, psychiatry residents, and practicing psychiatrists. Membership also provides access to journals, magazines, and online tools that can help you stay up-to-date with the latest advances in the field. 

You may also want to consider joining other professional organizations for psychiatrists, such as the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry or the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. These organizations offer networking opportunities with other practitioners in your area, which can be invaluable for your career growth.

5. Complete residency training

Completing your residency training is the final step toward becoming a psychiatrist. During your residency, you’ll work with experienced psychiatrists and receive hands-on experience treating patients with mental health issues. 

You can expect to learn about topics like psychiatric assessment, psychopharmacology, and psychotherapy. Through supervised clinical rotations, you’ll also have the opportunity to hone your diagnostic skills and gain an understanding of the legal and ethical considerations that come with being a psychiatrist. At the end of your residency, you’ll be prepared for board certification in psychiatry and ready to start practicing as a licensed psychiatrist!

6. Serve a fellowship

If you’re looking to specialize in a certain area of psychiatry, such as child and adolescent psychiatry or geriatric psychiatry, you may need to pursue additional training through a fellowship. 

A psychiatric fellowship is an intensive, one-year program that focuses on a specific specialty within the field. During your fellowship, you’ll have the opportunity to gain more hands-on experience in your chosen subspecialty and learn from experienced psychiatrists in the field. 

You can expect to participate in seminars, courses, research projects, conferences, and supervised clinical work during rotations. At the end of your fellowship, you’ll be ready to start practicing according to your chosen specialty!

7. Get a medical license

how-to-become-a-psychiatristOnce you’ve completed your medical degree, internship, residency, and fellowship (if applicable), the next step in becoming a psychiatrist is obtaining a medical license from your state’s medical board. 

This licensing process varies from state to state but typically involves passing an exam that assesses your knowledge of psychiatry, medical practices, and regulations. Additionally, you may need to obtain a separate registration if you plan on providing medication to your patients. After getting approved for licensure, you can finally start practicing as a psychiatrist!

8. Earn certifications

For those looking to become a psychiatrist, certifications are a great way to demonstrate your expertise in the field and enhance your employment prospects. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) offers certification for psychiatrists who pass their exams and meet certain educational requirements. To qualify for this certification, you must have a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.) as well as complete an accredited psychiatry residency program, and obtain a medical license. 

Additionally, the ABPN also offers certifications in several psychiatry subspecialties, such as addiction psychiatry, sleep medicine, and pain medicine. Having these certifications can open doors to new opportunities while providing reassurance to potential employers that you possess the necessary skillset in order to do the job effectively.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatrist?

Becoming a psychiatrist is no small feat. It’s estimated that it takes between 8-12 years to become a licensed or board-certified psychiatrist, depending on the specialty. This includes four years of college and medical school, followed by four years of residency in psychiatry. 

After residency, some psychiatrists pursue fellowships in subspecialties such as addiction, sleep medicine, or pain medicine, which can add another one or two years of post-residency work.

In addition to being well-educated, psychiatrists must also take the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) exam and obtain a medical license. Although the process may be lengthy, the rewards are life-changing for both patients and practitioners alike!

Becoming a psychiatrist is a long but rewarding journey. With patience and dedication, you can make a real difference in people’s lives. Next up: find out the skills you’ll need to take this journey!

Skills to Become a Psychiatrist

Becoming a psychiatrist requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. Not only do psychiatrists need to have an in-depth understanding of the human mind, but they must also be adept at forming relationships with their patients and using therapeutic techniques such as psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

In addition to these core competencies, psychiatrists should also possess excellent communication skills in order to effectively diagnose, treat, and counsel patients. They should also be able to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, including psychologists and social workers. Finally, having a strong ethical code is important for any psychiatrist so that they can provide care that is safe and beneficial for their patients.

These are just some of the many skills necessary for success in psychiatry. If you’re ready to take on this challenging but rewarding career path, make sure that you hone your craft by studying hard and gaining experience through internships or volunteering opportunities. With dedication, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a licensed psychiatrist!

Being a psychiatrist is an incredibly rewarding profession, and with the right dedication and hard work, you can become successful in this field. Now that you know what it takes to become a psychiatrist, let’s take a look at the salary and job growth prospects for this career!

Psychiatrist Salary reports that psychiatrists earned a mean annual salary of $$245,661 as of March 2023. The range usually falls between $220,139 and $274,792. Salaries can differ significantly based on numerous critical elements, such as educational background, professional certifications, skills, and the duration of experience in your chosen field.


In conclusion, the journey to becoming a psychiatrist is both challenging and rewarding, as it paves the way for a fulfilling career dedicated to improving mental health and well-being. 

Aspiring psychiatrists must be prepared for the rigorous academic and practical requirements, which include completing a bachelor’s degree, attending medical school, and completing a residency in psychiatry. 

Along the way, it is crucial to develop key skills such as empathy, communication, and problem-solving, as well as to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field. By successfully navigating this path, you will be well-equipped to make a lasting impact on the lives of your patients and help shape the future of mental health care.

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