Psychiatrist vs Psychologist: Education, Work, Salary & More

Psychiatrist vs psychologist education work salary infographic
 Psychiatrist vs psychologist: A simplified infographic by Investors Psychology
Psychiatrist vs Psychologist: Education, Work, Salary and More

In this article you'll gain valuable insights into the distinctions between a psychiatrist vs psychologist as we delve into their education, work tasks, work hours, and salary considerations.

Whether you're exploring mental health professions or seeking assistance, understanding the differences is essential, as many often get confused what the differences is between psychiatrists and psychologists. 

Article Key Points

  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D.) who complete around 11-13 years of education, including a bachelor's degree, medical school, and a psychiatry residency program. Clinical psychologists pursue doctoral degrees in psychology, requiring 8-12 years of study.

  • Psychiatrists diagnose, treat, and manage mental illnesses, prescribing medications, providing psychotherapy, collaborating with professionals, and conducting research. Psychologists focus on psychotherapy, assessments, interventions, collaboration, and research.

  • Psychiatrists work full-time (40-50 hours/week), while psychologists work around 40 hours per week.

  • According to 2023 numbers, psychiatrists earn an average salary of $309,000 per year. Clinical psychologists earn an average salary of $103,650 per year. Both professions have potential for higher earnings in specialized areas or private practice.

  • These figures in the article are based on US statistics and may not reflect the salary differences between psychiatrists and psychologists in other countries.

Comparing The Professions

We'll examine the contrasting educational paths leading to these professions, explore their unique responsibilities, and shed light on their work-life balance. Additionally, we'll touch upon the financial aspects by talking about the salary considerations.

Do note that all the information in this article is based on US statistics and may not be representative for the difference between a psychiatrist vs psychologist in the rest of the world. 

Psychiatrist vs Psychologist: Education

Psychiatrists and psychologists play vital roles in the field of mental health, but their paths differ for a psychiatrist versus psychologist in terms of education. 

Both professions require licensing and may involve additional specialization through fellowships or certifications. Understanding these educational distinctions helps clarify the unique perspectives and expertise psychiatrists and psychologists bring to their work.

Consider that both educational pathways are long and costly. In both cases, the tuition fees are on the larger side, especially for medical school. Whichever you chose, you probably want to know how to reduce the stress from debt. That said, in both cases the postgraduate part of the education is salaried positions. 

Psychiatrist Education

In the United States, psychiatrists undergo extensive medical training. This means every psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.), with the right to prescribe medications.

In order to become a psychiatrist you have to complete a 3 year bachelor's degree, after which you attend medical school for 4 years, followed by a psychiatry residency program that typically lasts 4 additional years. In addition, many psychiatrists pursue a fellowship lasting 1-2 years, in order to subspecialize. All in all, that's 11-13 years of education

Psychologist Education

Clinical psychologists, on the other hand, pursue doctoral degrees in psychology, but are not medical doctors. Their training focuses on psychological theory, research, and therapy techniques.

Nonetheless, in order to become a clinical psychologists you must complete a 4 or 5 year masters of psychology and then pursue an additional 4 to 7 years of postgraduate study. That it means it takes between 8 to 12 years to become a clinical psychologist.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko at

Psychiatrist vs Psychologist: Work

The work between a psychiatrist vs psychologist can differ more than you think. While the average person might not be able to tell the difference, there are both major and subtle differences between the professions. 

The main distinction, as we presented earlier, is that psychiatrist are medical doctors with the right to prescribe necessary medications for their patients. Nonetheless there are strong similarities as well, as both professions require deep understanding of how the human mind operates in order to help their patients or clients. 

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health. They diagnose, treat, and manage mental illnesses. Their key roles include:

  1. Diagnosis: Conduct thorough evaluations to diagnose mental disorders based on symptoms, medical history, and life circumstances.

  2. Treatment Planning: Develop personalized treatment plans considering severity, coexisting conditions, and patient preferences.

  3. Medication Management: Prescribe and monitor medications, adjusting dosages and addressing side effects. Psychiatrist are frequently responsible for prescribing antidepressants, ADHD medications and tranquilizers, amonst others. 

  4. Psychotherapy: Provide talk therapy alongside medication management, utilizing various approaches.

  5. Collaborative Care: Work with psychologists, social workers, and physicians to offer comprehensive care.

  6. Crisis Intervention: Assess and stabilize individuals in psychiatric emergencies.

  7. Research and Education: Contribute to research, clinical trials, and teaching (for example residents or medical students). 
Specific duties of a psychiatrist can vary based on their subspecialties, such as child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, or forensic psychiatry.

How Many Hours Does a Psychiatrist Work?

It's difficult to say exactly how many hours a psychiatrist work, since it varies between workplace nad person. That said, psychiatrists typically work full-time, averaging around 40 to 50 hours per week, although part-time and flexible schedules are also common. This is unlike most other medical specialties, where doctors often work 60 hours or more. depending on practice. 

A psychiatrists work hours can also vary based on factors such as the employment setting, patient load, and the need for on-call or emergency duties. 

What Does a Psychologist Do on a Daily Basis?

Clinical psychologists are mental healthcare professionals and depending on practice what a psychologist do on a daily basis can differ widely. However their main daily work tasks are to:

  1. Conduct psychological assessments to evaluate cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns.

  2. Develop and implement therapeutic interventions, such as individual or group counseling, using various approaches.

  3. Maintain detailed records of client progress and treatment plans.

  4. Collaborate with psychiatrists or other healthcare professionals for comprehensive care.

  5. Use primarily psychotherapy and psychological interventions in order to treat their patients or clients.

Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists do not prescribe medications and instead focus primarily on psychotherapy and psychological interventions. This may include a larger subset of therapy skills, such as CBT, DBT, trauma therapy, and much more. It all depends on the set of skills the psychologist has aquired throughout their training. 

Additionally, psychologists often engage in research, stay updated on the latest developments in the field, and may participate in teaching or supervising aspiring psychologists.

How Many Hours Does a Psychologist Work?

On average, clinical psychologists work around 40 hours per week, but many jobs require a minimum on 45 hours per week in academical settings. The actual number of hours can vary depending on factors such as their employment setting, caseload, and personal preferences. As an example, a psychologist working full time could split up their time doing 2 workdays for therapy, 2 workdays for assessments, and 1 day for research.

Moreover, clinical psychologists may need to allocate time for administrative tasks, record-keeping, research, and continuing education to stay updated on advancements in the field. This is something psychiatrist have to do as well.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska at

Psychiatrist vs Psychologist: Salary

So what's the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist salary? Down below we have provided the average numbers for psychiatrists and psychologists working in the US. Keep in mind that the numbers can vary a lot depending on type of practice model (hospital. vs private practice) and location.

However in general, when comparing a psychiatrist vs psychologist salary, the psychiatrist tend to pull ahead. That  being said, money can't buy happiness, so don't let it persuade you from choosing the career option you desire.

Psychiatrist Salary

The salary of a psychiatrist can vary depending on factors such as experience, geographic location, and employment setting. On average, psychiatrists in the United States earn a competitive salary, with the median annual wage being around $309,000 as of April 2023. 

Psychiatrists working in private practice or specialized fields may have the potential to earn even higher incomes. Factors such as additional certifications, academic positions, or involvement in research can also impact earnings. It's important to note that individual circumstances and market conditions can influence salary ranges, and compensation may differ among regions and healthcare systems.

Psychologist Pay

On average, clinical psychologists in the US earn a competitive salary - according to the website Glassdoorthe average salary for a clinical psychologist is $103,650 per year Those working in specialized areas or private practice may have the potential for higher earnings. 

Sign up for free and receive invaluable advice about the psychology behind successful investments 📚 💰

Popular Posts

Therapy When You Have No Money: Coping with Life's Challenges on a Budget

Market Cycle Psychology: What You Need to Know

Old Money vs New Money - Meaning & Psychology Behind it