How to Become a Children’s Psychiatrist

A child psychiatrist is a medical doctor whose main job is to recognize, diagnose, and treat various mental and emotional conditions in children. The main aim of a child psychiatrist is to help use his/ her skills and expertise to help children through their worries, fears, self-image issues, sadness, difficulties in learning and attention, low self-esteem among other behaviours and problematic feelings. To become a child psychiatrist you will need to have the necessary qualifications, certifications and licensing



If you wish to become a child psychiatrist, you should start preparing from high school by taking related subjects including maths, chemistry, biology, and sciences. This will help you prepare for the upcoming medical school schoolwork. To become a fully accredited child psychiatrist, you will be required to study for at least 6- 9 years after high school. The first step is finding a good college to obtain your 4- year bachelor’s degree.

1. Earning your bachelors degree- Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step to becoming a child psychiatrist. Some students choose to major in biology or another science while others choose to pursue a degree humanities, liberal arts, or psychology. Many medical students enrol in a pre-med school to learn more about the profession and get firsthand experience in the field of medicine

2. Earning a medical degree- The second step is earning a medical degree, which normally takes for years. During the first two years, you will be required to take the first part of medical licensing exam. The second and third parts are taken during the last year of medical school. You will also be required to take a clinical skills exam to assess how well you can function in a clinical setting with real patients. The first two years normally involve classroom and laboratory studies. You will be required to cover topics such as obstetrics, gynaecology, anatomy, among others while the last two years are usually dedicated to supervised clinical works

3. Internship and residency- After completing your degrees, you will be required to take a psychiatric internship and residency program. The aim of these programs is to provide you with thorough work experience in a typical clinical setting. You will need to first complete a 1-year internship program followed by a four-year residency program. The first year concentrates on general psychiatry while the last two years delve into child psychiatry. During your four- year residency program, you will work with real patients. Duties will include evaluating, treating patients as well as conducting clinical research.


Before starting your practise, you need to acquire relevant state licensing by passing a medical licensing examination. Regardless of your specialization, licensing is mandatory. Licence renewal is required, renewal process vary by state.

Becoming board certified

Besides licensing, you need to acquire a certificate in general psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Before being certified, you need to show proof of your psychiatry degree and your current medical licence. In addition, you must pass an exam. You need to renew your board membership every ten years, Being a member of relevant boards helps psychiatrists stay current and adhere to set standards.

Personal traits of child psychiatrists

Becoming a child psychiatrist is a long journey, you need to be dedicated, and patient if you choose this career path. Besides the education, licensing, and certification requirements, you need to appreciate and love working with children. In addition, you need to have patience, as you will be working with different kids, be compassionate, be a good listener, and have great communication skills.

You will need to utilize your communication skills on a daily basis. A big part of your job will involve listening to your patients and effectively communicating to help in solving different problems. You will need to have the patience and compassion to help patients with different temperaments, personalities, as calmly as possible.

Finding a job as a Children’s Psychiatrist

After completing all the above requirements, you are now ready to become a child psychiatrist. Popular culture portrays child psychiatrists working in private practice. However if you are a fresh graduate, getting into private practise is normally not the likely option.

Many graduates start working in clinics, hospitals, and treatment centres and branch into private practise once they have gained enough experience and skills. To find a job, you can use the free resources offered through your school career centre. Many medical schools provide useful resources to help students prepare their resumes and apply to available positions in their area. You can also join various professional associations to provide you with useful resources and learn about available positions when they come up

Child psychiatrist duties and responsibilities

Your duties as a child psychiatrist may vary depending on the setting but typically involves

  • Assessing and diagnosing various developmental disorders in children
  • Diagnosing and treating various disorders such anxiety and depression
  • Evaluating a patients data to identify the extent and nature of mental disorder
  • Designing care plans based on a child’s requirements and individual needs
  • Gathering and recording a child’s medical history to help in coming up with the best treatment possible
  • Providing consultancy services to help solve a child’s mental or emotional disorder
  • Coming up with the best treatment plan depending on a patient’s condition and how serious it is
  • Carrying out various health tests and interviews with the parent, child and other close members of the family
  • Providing support to other providers within the treatment facility
  • Participating in events sponsored by the hospital, clinic, or treatment facility to provide counselling and advice related to child psychiatry field

As a child psychiatrist, you can choose to work with different clients including teens, infants, toddlers or choose a particular age group. Child psychiatry is a great medical field especially if you love and appreciate helping and working with children

To stay on top of your career, earn your certifications and keep yourself current with the trends and research. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences held by reputable psychiatry organisations to expand your skill set and experience working with different patients.

The road to a career in child psychiatry is definitely a long one, but is greatly satisfying once you have passed all the education and licensing requirements and are ready to start on your dream career.