Psychiatrist career and salary guide

Psychiatrists are doctors that diagnose and treat patients with mental health conditions. They’re different to psychologists since they can also prescribe patients with the necessary medication to treat their condition.

You will carry out many roles and duties throughout your career as a psychiatrist. Your main focus will be to work with patients to identify and arrange treatment plans to help them manage their mental health condition.

How to become a psychiatrist

Before starting your career as a psychiatrist, you will need a degree in medicine (or a 5-year medicine degree apprenticeship). Typical entry requirements for these courses are:

  • Five GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • Three A levels or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
  • A degree in a relevant subject to enter postgraduate study

Note that employers will set their own entry requirements for apprenticeships.

Training and exams

First, you’ll need a medical degree (an MBBS or MBChB). This typically takes students 4–6 years to complete. It’s advised you need to get the grades listed above to enter courses but consider that different courses may have other requirements.

Once you have completed your degree, you will then need to finish two years of foundation training, which is made up of six rotations across diverse specialties and healthcare environments. Following this, you’re able to start working as a locum and will undertake core training for three years, referred to as CT1, CT2, and CT3. During this training, you’ll work in a variety of specialist psychiatry settings to help you get a range of experience. And by the end of CT3, you’ll have completed the MRCPsych exam to help you reach the next level of training.

Following on from your core psychiatry training is higher psychiatry training. This should also last three years, and each year is known as ST4, ST5 and ST6. During this time, you will train in a sub speciality you have chosen.

This could be:

  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • General adult psychiatry
  • Old age psychiatry
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychiatry of learning disabilities

Additionally, there will be opportunities for you to work within other sub specialities of psychiatry, including:

  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions
  • Rehabilitation psychiatry
  • Perinatal and social psychiatry – Neuropsychiatry

After completing your training, you will be awarded the certificate of completion of training (CCT). Once you have been awarded your CCT, you can apply to join the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register. With your GMC registration, you can start applying for consultant posts.

Qualities of a good psychiatrist

Now that you know the steps to becoming a psychiatrist, it’s important to note the qualities that make an exceptional psychiatrist stand out in their field..

These include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Patience
  • Trustworthiness
  • Flexibility

Possessing these qualities will allow you to provide patients with the respect they deserve whilst giving them the correct treatment. You will use these qualities to provide a safe space to help treat their mental health condition, making a huge positive impact on many people’s lives over the course of your career.

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

Psychiatrist career paths and progression

As a psychiatrist, there are certain specialisms and career progression paths that you can explore:

  • Addictions and substance abuse: You can expect to work with outpatients, in substance abuse rehabilitation centres, hospitals and clinics.
  • Child and adolescents: Where you will work in the NHS or private healthcare sector alongside young people affected by mood and anxiety disorders, emotional effects of long-term illness or learning disabilities.
  • Forensic: Your specialisms will shine as you work in prisons, secure hospitals and community settings. You will be a part of specialist teams, such as adolescent forensic psychiatry, forensic learning disability and forensic psychotherapy.
  • General adult: Where you can expect to work in the NHS and private sector in a multidisciplinary team tending to those with Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, severe depressive illness and personality disorders.
  • Learning disabilities: You will help treat those with learning disabilities in a range of settings including the community and specialist inpatient facilities, either within the NHS or private sector.
  • Older adults: Where you can expect to work on community care, developing memory, liaison psychiatry and improving acute inpatient services either in the private sector or the NHS.

Psychiatrist salary

Psychiatrists working for NHS England can expect to earn a basic salary between £32,398 and £126,281, depending on training and experience. Psychiatrists in training will receive a basic salary between £32,398 and £63,152 while psychiatrist consultant salaries start at £93,666 and reach up to £126,281. Additional allowances and awards are available which can increase overall pay. View our guides on NHS junior doctor pay scales and consultant pay scales in England for more details.

Psychiatrist salaries may differ across the UK as the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their pay scales independently. You can view NHS Scotland pay scales for doctors and NHS Wales pay scales for doctors in our dedicated guides.

Additionally, your salary as a psychiatrist may be higher when working in the private sector, as a locum psychiatrist or agency staff. Our expert recruitment consultants can help you discover your next role in the NHS or private sector and advise on salaries and pay rates in psychiatry.

Remember to do your research to see which route to pursue as you start your career as a psychiatrist.

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

Register today

Search psychiatrist jobs

We offer a huge variety of temporary and permanent jobs to choose from.

Search and apply

Leave a comment