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Psychiatrist Career Guide

Psychiatry is a fast growing career that offers you the opportunity to not only make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others, but to also progress professionally and to earn a high income. Although the education required to become a psychiatrist is long, psychiatrists are rewarded with high levels of autonomy, mastery and contribution.

For many people that I serve, this is the first time they are hearing that they are 'valued' and have something 'valuable'. It is very humbling and awe-inspiring.

Dr Nicole Adams

Psychiatrist Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Psychiatrist Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Psychiatrist field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33358 Addiction Psychiatry Male 22 $275,000 Long Beach, CA 01/01/2010
32716 Psychiatric Technician Assistant Female 39 $28,070 porterville, NY 01/01/2010

Overview

What a psychiatrist actually does

The specific tasks of a psychiatrist will vary depending on their speciality. For example, the daily duties and responsibilities of a child and adolescent psychiatrist will vary significantly from those of a medical psychiatrist. However, there are some responsibilities common to all psychiatrists and these include:

  • Prescribing medication to patients
  • Working directly with patients who are suffering mental health problems. Psychiatrists will assess the patients mental and physical health, along with their social situation and any potential risk factors, to create suitable treatment plans. These treatment plans must be monitored and reviewed regularly to check that they are helping the patient
  • Supervising and teaching junior medical staff and/or being responsible for a team of health professionals, such as psychiatric nurses, psychologists or occupational therapists
  • Having, and maintaining, an excellent understanding of physiology, anatomy, psychology, pharmacology and mental health law
  • Keeping up to date with new information and research in the field of psychiatry

Why they are needed

With the global rise of reported mental health and behavioural health issues, and with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that the suicide rate of Americans aged 35-64 increasing by 25.4% between 1999 to 2016,  psychiatry is more important than it ever has been before.

As psychiatrists specialize in diagnosing and treating those with mental illness, they are helping to reduce the number of untreated mental illnesses worldwide.

Pros and cons of a career as psychiatry:

Pros:

  • The main focus of a psychiatrist is to help people and improve their quality of life, which makes it a rewarding and fulfilling career
  • There is a lot of variety in a psychiatrists daily schedule as they will see lots of different people who all have different issues. This makes it an exciting and interesting career
  • As a psychiatrist, you can choose to specialize in a variety of areas. This gives you the choice and freedom to work in an area the best suits your skills and interests
  • There are opportunities for growth and development, either to progress to more senior positions or to become self-employed

Cons:

  • There is a lengthy and competitive education process as psychiatrists have to complete a medical degree and several years of training
  • Irregular working hours and overtime are common as psychiatrists, especially those who are new to the profession, may often have to work weekends, evenings and holiday shifts. Due to this, it can be hard to find a work-life balance
  • You will have to work with incredibly difficult patients with severe illnesses. On some occasions, no treatment will work to help improve this clients condition and this can be emotionally taxing
  • Some patients who you work with may be violent or aggressive, which can present you with physical danger

Career success factors

One study, conducted on 802 psychiatrists, found that factors that determine career satisfaction in psychiatrists included a belief in the intrinsic value of psychiatry, a low perceived degree of emotional burden from parents, financial success, and satisfaction with psychotherapeutic work.

Employability

Job market

The Bureau of Labour Statistics projects a 15.8% employment growth for psychiatrists between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The largest employers in the field are psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals.

Career paths

The road to becoming a qualified psychiatrist is long and requires a lot of commitment. First, psychiatrists earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biochemistry or biology. Aspiring psychiatrists must then take the medical college admissions test (MCAT). A successful score on the MCAT means acceptance into medical school. Medical school is attended for five years to achieve a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (OD) degree.

After medical school, psychiatrists then apply for the medical license through taking either the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination. Psychiatrists must obtain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Once all of this is done, psychiatrists are expected to complete supervised training through a residency, which takes anywhere from three to eight years. During this time, aspiring psychiatrists will work under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist to develop their skills. On average, this process takes around 12 years. After qualifying, psychiatrists must renew their certification every 10 years. This means that psychiatrist must keep their knowledge of research and trends up to date.

Once all this is complete, psychiatrists often pick an area to specialize in, which requires and additional one to two years of training. Such areas include child and adolescence, psychotherapy, geriatric, forensic and perinatal. Psychiatrists may also choose to going to psychiatric research or education, or they may even decide to open their own practice.

Example Job Titles for Psychiatrist

Below is a list of common job titles in the Psychiatrist field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

The Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that the average yearly salary for a psychiatrist in the United States is $220,380, with the bottom 10% earning less than $75,590 per year.

Autonomy and Flexibility

During a psychiatrists residency years, there is not a lot of autonomy and flexibility as they constantly work under the supervision of a more senior psychiatrist. However, after finishing residency, psychologists quickly gain autonomy and flexibility as they gain more responsibility. On top of this, psychiatrist also have the option to set up their own practice, which offers very high amounts of autonomy and flexibility.

Locations and commute

There is a need for psychiatrists all over the world, meaning that psychiatrists should be able to find work close to where they live. According to Zippia, the best states to be a psychiatrist, based on average annual salary and number of jobs available, are:

  1. Wyoming, where the average annual salary is $249,307
  2. Oregon, where the average annual salary is $231,977
  3. Idaho, where the average annual salary is $246,149
  4. Minnesota, where the average annual salary is $217,897
  5. North Dakota, where the average annual salary is $216,606

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Hawaii and Alabama.

Work environment

Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals are the top employer of psychiatrists in the United States, with Offices of Physicians being the second top employer. Psychiatrists may also work in outpatient care centers, offices of other health practitioners and residential facilities (e.g., for intellectual and developmental disability, mental health and substance abuse). Nearly all of these employers require psychiatrists to work in indoor clinics, offices or hospitals. In most circumstances, psychiatrists will work around 40 hours a week. However, in hospitals and in-patient clinics, they may be on call incase of an emergency and/or have to work nights and weekends.

Psychiatrists typically have high level of social interactions in their work environment as they have to work closely with patients and other healthcare professionals.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Psychiatrist careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Psychiatrist career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Psychiatrist.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

The specific personality types that make up a successful and fulfilled psychiatrist are yet to be explored. However, many believe that a successful psychiatrist will be an ENFP personality type on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

Accomplishment and mastery

The sense of accomplishment and mastery in psychiatry is probably not that high to begin with, as psychiatrist will spend many years training and not mastering ‘the art’ of good psychiatry. However, once qualified, psychiatrists are quickly given copious responsibility and have to make decisions using their advanced knowledge and skill, which gives them a great sense of accomplishment and mastery.

On top of this, psychiatrists will also feel a great sense of accomplishment as their work will help to improve the lives of many.

Meaning and contribution

As previously mentioned, the rate of suicide and reported mental health issues is increasing. The work of a psychiatrist is focused on helping the individuals, and their families, who face these difficult issues to improve and live happier lives. Due to this, the meaning and contribution of psychiatry is high.

Life fit

During the first few years of residency, psychiatrists will most likely work long hours. However, as psychiatrists progress in their career, they will have more control over the hours they work. For example, they may decide to set up their own practice and can then decide how often they would like to work to make the career fit into their life.

Who will thrive in this career?

  • Those who are genuinely interested in helping others to overcome difficult issues in their life
  • Those who are sociable and enjoy interacting with all sorts of people. On top of this, you will thrive if you are respectful, empathetic and understanding
  • Those who are willing to commit to the educational progress and to the continued learning and development required

Who will struggle in this career?

  • Those who prefer not to interact with different types of people
  • Those who struggle to emphasize with others and see things from their perspective
  • Those who are not looking for a career with great educational commitment and career progression commitment
  • Those who want a fixed schedule and do not like to have variability in their days

Requirements

Skills and talents

The typical skills and talents required for a psychiatrist include:

  • Emotional resilience, as psychiatrists will work with many challenging and difficult patients, some who are contemplating suicide, and this can be emotionally draining
  • Problem-solving skills are essential as psychiatrists will have to work to figure out which treatments will be more effective. Psychiatrists will also have to try to workout why some treatments are not working and what treatments they should offer instead
  • Leadership skills are also essential as psychiatrists will have to organize and motivate a team of other healthcare professionals
  • Interpersonal skills are key to help psychiatrists emphasize and related to their patients and build effective working relationships
  • Oral and written communication skills are essential as psychiatrists will have to communicate with many people and they will have to produce clear and understandable written reports

Education

Psychiatrists must first earn a bachelor’s degree in a field such as biochemistry or biology. Once completing this,  psychiatrists then take the medical college admissions test (MCAT). A good score on the MCAT, and therefore acceptance into medical school, is required of psychiatrists. Psychiatrists attend medical school  for five years to achieve either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (OD) degree.

After medical school, psychiatrists then apply for the medical license through taking either the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination. Psychiatrists must obtain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Once all of this is done, psychiatrists are expected to complete supervised training through a residency, which takes anywhere from three to eight years. During this time, aspiring psychiatrists will work under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist to develop their skills.

Certifications

As well as a medical license, all psychiatrists must obtain Certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) in order to legally practice.

How to Become

Summary

Although a lengthy educational process, psychiatrists are rewarded with a meaningful career with excellent income potential and employment opportunities.

Immediate action

To get started, we recommend tracking down a psychiatrist and speaking to them about their role, their career and the challenges involved. We also recommend thinking about what course you would like to study at university and how it will help you get accepted into medical school.

Education and learning

Psychiatrists must first earn a bachelor’s degree and then attend medical school to achieve either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (OD) degree. After medical school, psychiatrists then apply for a medical license through taking either the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination. Psychiatrists must obtain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Once all of this is done, psychiatrists are expected to complete supervised training through a residency, which takes anywhere from three to eight years and they have to renew their license every ten years.

Skill development

Due to the lengthy educational training, psychiatrists have a lot of opportunity to practice and develop the relevant skills that they need to become a successful psychiatrist.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Psychiatrist careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33358 Addiction Psychiatry Male 22 $275,000 Long Beach, CA 01/01/2010
32716 Psychiatric Technician Assistant Female 39 $28,070 porterville, NY 01/01/2010

Resources