Medical

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems.

Annual Salary

£26,350 to £102,500

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

48

5%
Future employment

There will be 5% more Psychiatrist jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Your work will depend on which area of psychiatry you specialise in. You could work in one of the following areas of psychiatry:

  • general adult
  • old age
  • child and adolescent
  • learning disability
  • medical psychotherapy
  • forensic

You'll assess your patient’s condition by asking them about their thoughts. You'll also get information from other sources, like their GP, relatives and social workers. You may carry out blood tests or scans to rule out other health conditions.

Afterwards, you’ll:

  • carry out psychiatric tests
  • prescribe medication
  • recommend treatments like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • suggest practical ways to stay well
University

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 may be asked to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) to check your suitability for a career in medicine.

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), including English, maths and a science
  • 3 A levels, including chemistry, biology and either physics or maths
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

£26,350 to £102,500

Starter salary: £26,350 to £45,750 (doctors in training)

Experienced salary: £37,500 to £70,000 (specialty doctors)

Consultants working in the private sector may be paid more.

These figures are a guide.

48

You may work long hours including nights and weekends. You’ll also be part of an out-of-hours rota system.

You may be based on a hospital ward or an outpatient department. You could also work in the community as part of a community mental health team visiting schools, residential homes and prisons.

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.

You can find out more about becoming a psychiatrist from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Health Careers.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • 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
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