Psychologists and psychiatrists work in the same general field of counseling and studying human behavior. However, there are many differences between these two positions. The main difference is that psychology requires a doctorate like a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a PhD in Psychology to practice. A psychiatrist is required to have a medical degree. Psychiatrists are required to complete more hours of training and clinical supervision to practice.

Psychologists are required to have a license through their state board. The requirements for licensing depend on the state. Psychiatrists must also have licenses, but as medical doctors in their state. To become a board-certified psychiatrist, medical doctors must pass the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s examination.

What Is a Psychologist?

In general, psychologists use observations, interviews, surveys and other methods of collecting information to study behavior and the functions of the brain. Psychologists look for patterns in behaviors and causality in order to make diagnoses and to understand the human brain.

As mentioned before, psychologists must have either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a PhD in Psychology. The main difference between these two degrees is that a PsyD focuses more on practical work, while a PhD requires research and a dissertation. A bachelor’s degree in psychology or human services and, in most cases, a master’s degree in a related field is required to pursue a doctoral degree.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental disorders. They write prescriptions to help patients alleviate or manage their symptoms. Both psychiatrists and psychologists use psychotherapy to help their clients and patients. They have discussions with their patients in both individual and group settings. Generally, psychoanalysis is a long-term treatment plan and requires multiple sessions.

Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they are required to spend their last two years of medical school under the supervision of other experienced physicians in hospitals or clinics. They complete rotations and gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses.

Soft and Hard Skills in Psychology vs. Psychiatry

Both of these fields require many of the same soft skills in order to be successful. Communication skills, for example, are essential. Problem-solving and observational skills are needed in order to appropriately treat and communicate with patients and clients.

There are many hard skills that psychiatrists and psychologists use. Statistical analysis, for example, can be used in both of these fields. Specialties of psychology, including forensic psychology and social psychology, use statistical analysis to form conclusions and theories about human behavior.

Which Route Should I Take? Psychology vs Psychiatry

The main differences in these two career fields are the level and kind of education required, the kind of training and licensing required, and the responsibilities inherent in each position.

In addition, there are a few other occupational differences. For example, psychiatrists make an average of $245,673 a year, while psychologists make $72,580. The occupational outlook for psychologists is very good; the field is projected to grow 19 percent by 2024. Demand for psychiatrists is projected to grow 15 percent by 2024. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.