Psychiatrists are doctors who diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems.
Salary range: £27,689 to £74,661
How to become a psychiatrist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
To become a psychiatrist you’ll need to complete:
- a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
- a 2-year foundation programme of general training
- 3 years of core training in psychiatry
- 3 years of training in a speciality
You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine if you do not have qualifications in science. This includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year.
If you already have a degree in a science subject, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.
When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). They test the skills you’ll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.
There’s a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
- equivalent entry requirements
- university courses and entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- University Clinical Aptitude Test
- BioMedical Admissions Test
- you’ll need to register with the General Medical Council
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- knowledge of psychology
- knowledge of medicine and dentistry
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- excellent verbal communication skills
- active listening skills
- knowledge of English language
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
In this role, you could be:
- assessing your patient’s condition by asking them about their thoughts
- getting information from other sources, like GPs, relatives or social workers
- carrying out blood tests or scans to rule out other health conditions.
- carrying out psychiatric tests
- prescribing medication
- recommending treatments like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- suggesting practical ways to stay well
You could work in a prison, in an NHS or private hospital, at a client’s home or in the community.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
With experience, you may go on to lead a team, or manage a unit or department. You may also progress to teaching and training students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals.
With experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.