How Long Does It Take To Become a Psychiatrist?

Because psychiatrists need specialist medical training, it can take over 10 years to qualify as a psychiatrist, or longer if you want to specialise in any particular areas.

Stages of Becoming a Psychiatrist

In this post we’ll break down the various stages of your training journey as a psychiatrist, including what each stage involves, and how long each stage may take.

It can take over 10 years to qualify as a psychiatrist

Medical Degree – 4 to 6 Years

All psychiatrists must first get a medical degree – either an MBBS or a MBChB.

In order to secure a place on a medical degree course, you’ll need good A-Level or Scottish Higher grades, which usually includes at least one science subject. In most medical schools, a grade in chemistry is compulsory.

Certain medical schools may also look for certain work experience. This could include work in a hospital and many UK hospitals offer work-experience programmes to sixth-form students. Alternatively, they may accept experience in a caring role, such as in an old person’s home.

Most medical degrees take five years to complete. But if you already have a degree in a relevant subject, you may be able to complete certain graduate entry courses in as little as four years.

Foundation Training – 2 Years

Once you’ve got your MBBS or MBChB, you’ll need to complete an additional two years of foundation training. The good news is that this largely involves on-the-job training, which means you’ll usually be paid!

During your foundation training, you’ll cycle through a number of training posts to allow you to experience a number of different medical specialities. Each post should last a few months.

Core Psychiatry Training – 3 Years

Your core psychiatry training is intended to let you experience numerous different psychiatry sub-specialties. As well as broadening your understanding of psychiatry as a whole, this process is intended to help you decide whether you’d like to dedicate yourself to any particular specialty.

This process lasts three years, with each subsequent year referred to as CT1, CT2, and CT3. Following your third year, you’ll have to complete an MRCPsych exam.

Higher Psychiatry Training – 3 Years

The three subsequent years of higher psychiatry training are referred to as ST4, ST5, and ST6.

Higher psychiatry training allows you to get further experience and development in whichever sub specialty interests you most. This might be the psychiatry of learning disabilities, psychotherapy, general adult, old age, forensic, or child and adolescent. You may also get the opportunity to experience other niche areas, including addictions, rehabilitation, and perinatal psychiatry.

Once you’ve completed your higher psychiatry training, you’ll receive your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). You’ll also be entered onto the General Medical Council (GMC)’s specialist register, which means you’ll be able to apply for consultant posts.

Most trainee psychiatrists complete their core and higher training in multiple locations. However, it’s possible to apply for run-through training, which allows you to complete your core and higher training in one region.

Ready to Start Your Journey to Becoming a Psychiatrist?

As we’ve seen, training to become a psychiatrist is a lengthy process requiring multiple exams, placements, and qualifications.

How Can a Psychologist Become a Psychiatrist?

If you’re a qualified psychologist and you want to transfer to a career in psychiatry, you may be able to apply for a conversion course. For more information, check the Royal College of Psychiatrists Career Essentials resources.

If you cannot commit to the lengthy training process, then you could instead establish yourself as a therapist or a counsellor. You will probably still need to get a specialist qualification in counselling or therapy, but the entry requirements are likely to be lower. Also, you may not need so much formal training after you qualify.

Specialist Cover For Qualified Psychiatrists

No matter what area of psychiatry you choose to specialise in, you’ll specialist medical malpractice insurance to cover both you and your patients for certain risks. 

At Tapoly, we specialise in providing specialists in a range of fields with comprehensive cover for less. Get a free quote online in minutes.

If you have any questions, or if you’d like to discuss your insurance cover options, you can contact the Tapoly team at You can also call out help line on +44 (0)207 846 0108, or you can use our website chat.