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Psychiatry Career

Career Description

A Psychiatrist diagnoses, treats, and helps prevent disorders of the mind.

Common Work Tasks

  • Assess and treat mental illnesses through a combination of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication
  • Help patients find solutions through changes in their behavioral patterns, the exploration of their past experiences, or group and family therapy sessions
  • Conduct psychotherapy and counseling sessions for patients
  • Administer medications to correct chemical imbalances that cause emotional problems
  • Administer electroconvulsive therapy to those patients who do not respond to, or who cannot take, medications
  • Collaborate with physicians, psychologists,  social workers, psychiatric nurses, or other professionals to discuss treatment plans and progress
  • Gather and maintain patient information and records, including social and medical history obtained from patients,  relatives, and other professionals
  • Counsel outpatients and other patients during office visits
  • Examine or conduct laboratory or diagnostic tests on patient to provide information on general physical condition and mental disorder
  • Advise and inform guardians, relatives, and significant others of patients’ conditions and treatment

Other Job Titles

Psychiatrists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Psychiatric Technicians
  • Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Doctors

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Psychiatrists require 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency, depending on the specialty selected. A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 years rather than the customary 8 years.

Certification and Licensure
All States,  the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories license physicians. To be licensed, physicians must graduate from an accredited medical school, pass a licensing examination, and complete 1 to 7 years of graduate medical education.  Although physicians licensed in one State usually can get a license to practice in another without further examination, some States limit reciprocity.  Graduates of foreign medical schools generally can qualify for licensure after passing an examination and completing a U.S. residency.

  People who wish to become physicians must have a desire to serve patients, be self-motivated, and be able to survive the pressures and long hours of medical education and practice. Physicians also must have a good bedside manner,  emotional stability, and the ability to make decisions in emergencies.  Prospective physicians must be willing to study throughout their career to keep up with medical advances.


The median annual salary for a Psychiatrist is more than $145,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of psychiatrists are:

  • Offices of Physicians - $148,180
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $141,770
  • Psychiatric Substance Abuse Hospitals - $149,120
  • Outpatient Care Centers - $168,790
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools- $103,950

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  N/A
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: N/A
  • Employment 2006 : N/A
  • Employment 2016:  N/A
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