Psychiatrists are medical doctors who deal exclusively with mental health. They work closely with psychologists. However, they are able to write prescriptions while psychologists are not. This means that their educational requirements are different and the salary is generally higher. A psychiatrist job description entails being concerned with the physical manifestations that impact patient health.

This psychiatrist job description will review the most common responsibilities of psychiatrists including essential skills. The required education and experience level are reviewed in addition to the typical working schedule and job outlook.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A psychiatrist is focused on people’s mental health. This means that they look at medical reasons for mental disorders and diseases. One thing that a psychiatrist is not is a counselor. The job description of a psychiatrist focuses more on writing prescriptions and medicine than on the affective components of emotional well-being. A psychiatrist could have a specialization and this will dictate the population they work with.


A psychiatrist needs their medical degree and four years of residency. This residency provides the necessary experience to practice in the field. The median salary for psychiatrists is $194,740 dollars.

Psychiatrist Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

A psychiatrist will complete some basic responsibilities regardless of their specialization. These are included in the bullet points below. Consider these general statements that should be customized.

  • Handle referrals from psychologists and primary care physicians.
  • Evaluate patients and assess their medical needs based on standard assessments.
  • Write prescriptions for medication and monitor patient response to medications.
  • Attend professional conferences.
  • Maintain licensing requirements to actively practice medicine.
  • Collaborate as part of a complete health care team focused on the holistic health of a patient.
  • Work with a psychologist closely.

Psychiatrist Essential Skills

Analytical skills. Psychiatrists need to analyze patient interactions and analyze literature. Both of these have analytical skills as an underlying component.

Empathy skills. Psychiatrists have a challenging job because they must apply knowledge in neuroscience to behaviors in individuals. Being empathetic with patients allows the patient to feel comfortable.

Communication skills. A psychiatrist needs to communicate with other medical professionals and with patients who have potential challenges in communication. They must be adept at altering communication style to speak to these different groups.

Problem-solving skills. A psychiatrist needs to take what the patient is saying in combination with their behavior and make a diagnosis. This requires heavy problem-solving skills.

This list was based on a list from Touro University.

How to Become a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists need their bachelor’s degree and then pursue a medical degree. They need to complete a period of time in residency and pass licensing exams. This qualifies them to practice as psychiatrists.

Education & Training Requirements

A student interested in psychiatry will pursue a bachelor’s degree in the sciences. This prepares them with the necessary medical knowledge to get accepted to medical school. It is possible to major in a different field, but there should be a focus on accumulating science knowledge. Sometimes, a psychiatrist will also major in psychology in order to gain an understanding of how these two fields work with one another.

After the psychiatrist has pursued their bachelor’s degree they will attend medical school. Four years of residency are required. After this, the psychiatrist takes a medical licensing test to be certified as a doctor and allowed to practice medicine. Some professionals may pursue additional specialization in order to practice in child psychiatry or forensic psychiatry.

Work Experience

Psychiatrists do not need prior work experience in order to practice. However, they gain a lot of experience in their residency. During residency, they will rotate through different psychiatric shifts and this allows the doctors to see what type of environment they might like to work in.

It is a good idea for a student who is interested in becoming a psychiatrist to job shadow while they are in college in order to develop a more thorough understanding of the daily responsibilities of this profession. They can also pursue research opportunities in college. This is an important avenue to pursue because engaging in research connects the student with the literature and allows them to start contributing to the scholarly conversation.

Moreover, there are professional psychiatric organizations that a practicing psychiatrist could use to engage in professional development. An example of these is The American College of Psychiatrists.

Work Schedules

Unlike other medical professions like surgeons and physicians, a general psychiatrist job description will describe typical office hours. This is not true for those professionals who work within mental facilities or in the mental ward of the hospital. These environments might necessitate a psychiatrist to work overnight and weekend hours.

What is more common for psychiatrists is for an intern or resident to work the overnight hours and only call the psychiatrist when there is an emergency. A typical day for a hospital-based psychiatrist is to engage with rounds and communicate with other medical professionals about plans of treatment for patients. In addition, psychiatrists need to train new residents in using diagnostic tools to create a standard of care in the field.

Career Prospects

A renewed focus on mental health has led to an increased demand for psychiatrists and psychologists. The estimated job growth is 19 percent through the year 2024. The highest paying industries for psychiatrists are in home health care, government, and outpatient care centers. The states with the highest number of psychiatrists in relation to the population are Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, and Maine.

The 10th percentile of psychiatrists will earn $61,330 and the median is $194,740. This equals an hourly wage of $29.48 and $93.63, respectively. However, there is not a high opportunity for advancement to other positions in the field. This is mainly because the psychiatry degree is the terminal degree in the field. However, a psychiatrist will gain leadership and increases in pay as they gain more experience.


Overall, psychiatrists are an essential part of the medical team. A psychiatrist job description shows that they diagnose mental conditions and give medical reasons for behavior. In addition, they can work in a variety of environments and see a relatively high salary. However, there is extensive education required to be a psychiatrist and continued learning in the field. On the other hand, dealing with body pains and offering muscle relief is the massage therapist, which is a lucrative career in the healthcare industry as well.