What Are the Career Options for a Psychiatrist?

Graduates of doctoral programs in psychiatry can work as general psychiatrists or in specialty areas, such as child psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry or neuropsychiatry. Keep reading to learn about these career options. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Psychiatrists in General

As medical doctors, psychiatrists evaluate and treat patients with mental illnesses through the use of psychoanalysis, medication and psychotherapy. Becoming a psychiatrist requires four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school and 3-8 years of residency and internships. After completing this, psychiatrists need to obtain a state license to practice. If they plan to work in a psychiatry specialty, they also need to earn certification from the American Board of Medical Specialists. Keep reading to learn about some of those specialty areas.

Important Facts About Psychiatrists

Median Salary (2014)$181,880 per year
Job Outlook (2012-2022)18% (for all physicians and surgeons)
Work EnvironmentPrivate offices, medical practices, juvenile detention centers, hospitals, prisions and healthcare facilities
LicensingPassing the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is required in all states

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Child Psychiatrists

These medical doctors specialize in analyzing and treating emotional and mental problems in young kids and teenagers. Children develop and behave differently as they grow into adulthood, in many cases necessitating treatment that differs from that for adults. Child psychiatrists consider biological, environmental, genetic and psychosocial factors when diagnosing children.

Geriatric Psychiatrists

Geriatric psychiatrists work with older adults, diagnosing and treating depression and anxiety, as well as dementia, late-life schizophrenia and other mental issues. They also help them cope with stress and mental changes that come with aging and impending death. Additionally, geriatric psychiatrists work with families to help them understand the nature of their loved ones' mental illness, as well as provide them with coping mechanisms.


Neuropsychiatrists care for patients whose cognitive, emotional or behavioral conditions are neurologically based. This can include patients with multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, movement disorders like Parkinson's disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's. Neuropsychiatrists evaluate patients, consult with other physicians and provide treatment to help patients manage their symptoms.

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