What They Do:

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in the treatment of mental disorders. Unlike psychologists and social workers who also treat mental disorders, psychiatrists hold a medical degree and can therefore prescribe medications to treat psychological disorders.

Some psychiatrists are trained in practicing psychotherapy in addition to providing medication management. However, many psychiatrists focus on medication management with their patients who will meet with clinical psychologists or clinical social workers for psychotherapy sessions. In these instances, it is important for psychiatrists to consult the other mental health professionals involved in treatment in an effort to coordinate care.  

There are different specialty areas in this field including child and adolescent psychiatrists, forensic psychiatrists, adult psychiatrists, addiction psychiatrists, geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychiatrists, and organizational psychiatrists.


  • A bachelor’s degree with a focus on pre-med preparation (4 years).

  • Take the MCATs during your junior year of college.

  • Attend medical school (4-5 years).

  • Complete your residency (usually 4 years).

  • Pass your state’s board exam.

  • Obtaining certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology is highly recommended.

What They Make:

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the 2019 mean annual wage was $208,000.

Where They Work:

  • Many psychiatrists are self-employed and run their own mental health practices.

  • Hospitals

  • Mental health clinics

  • Government offices

  • Universities

According to ExploreHealthCareers.org, psychiatrists typically spend about 60% of their time working directly with patients. Other duties might include teaching, consultation, research and administration.

Career Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this profession to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029.





Updated February 2021