Psychologist or Psychiatrist – What’s the difference?

The diagnosis or treatment of any mental disorder may involve two different types of professionals – the psychiatrist and a psychologist. While some believe they are the same, others are daunted by the confusion of what is the difference between the two and whether one of them is potentially a better choice than the other when thinking on the lines of treatment.

Wondering if there really is a difference between the two? A fair and easy way to gain an understanding of the differences between the two is to compare them or parameters like the educational requirements of the two jobs.

A person who seeks to become a psychiatrist has to take the same study path as one who wants to become a doctor of medicine. Hence, it is necessary for them to go to college and study an undergraduate degree that deals with a science based subject and then follow up with graduate studies and completing their MD. Moreover, they would then have to look at doing their residence in psychiatry to fulfill the necessary education and training requirement to commence their work as a certified psychiatrist.


However, to become a psychologist, the path taken is majorly different. The person will be likely to take up Psychology as their undergraduate major. However this is not an essential requirement and they could choose a major in certain other subjects as well. Only, after completion of their undergraduate degree, they to have to commence graduate studies, either as a Doctorate or as a Masters degree in a field that is related to psychology.

A simple difference hence, between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is that a psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor whereas a psychologist is not.

Your psychiatrist is eligible to prescribe medications, whereas if a psychologist sees the need of medication required, they must refer their patient to a psychiatrist.

A psychologist, in most cases, concentrates on treating their patients with therapies and techniques like counseling and psychotherapy.

While a clinical psychologist may have to deal with a range of mental disorders, most counseling psychologist focus basically on areas such as addiction counseling, marital counseling or Post- Partum Counseling where the issues are more a behavioral condition than a diagnosed medical disorder.

Another major difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist are their potential earning. A psychiatrist, who is medically trained earns a much higher salary than a psychologist in most cases. While the salary of the psychologist too is pretty high, the psychiatrist, being the medical consultant earns more.

A psychiatrist may be believed to have studied hard due to medical studies involved, however, either career choice involve almost similar amount of study and commitment with either requiring the aspirants to be prepared for nearly a decade of studying and undergoing training. However, the perks are that you will be rewarded with plenty of room to specialize in various areas that may be of great interest to you, thus making your career increasingly interesting.

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