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Wellbeing

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are doctors who diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems.

Annual Salary

£44,000 to £94,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

41 to 43 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on a rota

3.8%
Future employment

There will be 3.8% more Psychiatrist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • assess your patient's condition by asking them about their thoughts
  • recommend treatments like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy
  • get information from other sources like GPs, social workers or relatives
  • carry out blood tests or scans to rule out other health conditions
  • carry out psychiatric tests and prescribe medication

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital, in the community, in a prison or at a client's home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through a university course or an apprenticeship.

University

To become a psychiatrist you'll need to complete:

  • a degree in medicine recognised by the General Medical Council
  • a 2-year foundation programme of general training
  • 3 years core training in psychiatry
  • specialist training which can take up to 3 years

A medical degree normally takes 5 years to complete. Some courses have the option to include an extra year if you want to study a subject further. This is called an intercalated year.

You might be able to study a foundation year before starting a medical degree. This will depend on your circumstances or if you have not studied enough sciences. Check with the admissions department where you want to study.

If you already have a degree, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. There’s lots of competition and entry requirements vary, so check with the admissions department where you want to study.

Entry tests

When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT).

They test the skills you'll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.

Work experience

Medical schools will also expect you to have some relevant paid or voluntary work experience. The British Medical Association provides information on how to find a placement.

Entry requirements

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
For more information
Apprenticeship

From September 2024, you might be able to do a doctor degree apprenticeship which will take around 5 years to complete.

The apprenticeship is recognised by the General Medical Council.

You could then progress to the foundation course of general training before completing the specialist training.

For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You can gain valuable caring skills from volunteering in education, health, charity or social care settings. You could:

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

The General Medical Council has a guide on what it means to be a good doctor. You might find this useful  when preparing for medical school interviews.

You can use online resources to find out more about the types of interviews you can expect to get into for medical school.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British Medical Association for professional development and training opportunities.

Further information

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

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With experience you could:become a senior consultant, once you're on the General Medical Council Specialist Register; lead a team or manage a unit or department; move into teaching trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals

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
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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