find psychology degrees and psychiatry degrees near you

Is It Better To Be A Psychologist Or Psychiatrist?

Have you ever wondered what's the difference between psychology and psychiatry? With both words sounding similar, and both in the field of studying mental health, it is easy to get confused about what sets each of these fields apart from the others.

To know which field of study is best for your career pursuit, the fundamental differences need to be laid out.

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviors that are a result of the mind, whereas psychiatry is focused on the treatment of mental illnesses and abnormal behavior. Neither is better than the other, but each plays an important role in upholding the well-being of an individual.

While psychiatry takes a more clinical approach to the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, psychology takes the approach of working with a patient through counseling and therapy to overcome the difficulties they may face.

However, each brings to the table incomparable value in treating the human mind. Let us delve deeper into the fields of psychology and psychiatry and see which path could be dubbed better than the other.

Is It Better To Be A Psychologist Or A Psychiatrist?

As with every career or field of study, the role you choose will greatly be influenced by your strengths and your weaknesses. Some people hope to use their innate skill of comforting and advising others as their way of helping the world, whereas others choose to pursue a career that teaches them the tools they need to help people.

In such instances, neither role is better than the other, but both are used as foundational methods to make the lives of others better.

In this case, the role of the psychologist serves as a one-on-one source to help a patient deal with and overcome the turmoil. They play a comforting role, and they provide counsel and advice in helping patients overcome mental illness. Psychologists often use tools such as hypnosis, psychotherapy, and relaxation exercises as methods of overcoming mental difficulties and trauma.

On the other hand, psychiatrists are medical practitioners who clinically treat mental health illnesses from a scientific perspective, and treatment plans often involve pharmaceutical and medicinal treatments.

Psychiatrists are therefore expected to not just have an understanding of the mind, but the physiology and biochemical makeup of an individual as well.

For example, a psychologist will assess the environmental factors and triggers that may cause a patient to suffer from anxiety disorders. They will look at behavioral and developmental aspects that may have shown signs for the patient to be inclined towards facing anxiety and they will provide treatment plans that involve addressing triggers in a safe and controlled environment.

Psychiatrists, on the other hand, will assess if a patient is facing a chemical imbalance that impacts their anxiety levels and leads them to feel more anxiety than normally expected. They will then seek to treat the anxiety disorder with medication or hormonal treatments.

What Is A Psychologist?

A psychologist is someone who focuses on the study of the mind through behavior. Psychology calls into question how cognitive, social, and developmental factors influence a person's behavior. By assessing and monitoring an individual's behavior, coupled with their knowledge of psychological theories, psychologists are able to predict the behaviors of others.

What Is A Psychiatrist?

As medical practitioners, psychiatrists can run lab assessments and blood work analyses on patients to understand and determine if there are any physiological causes for the mental health illnesses and disorders that they face.

How Are They Different?

The primary difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is their use and administration of pharmaceuticals as a method of treating patients. Also, psychiatrists are considered medical practitioners and have to attend medical school before qualifying as a psychiatrist.

Let us take a look at the major differences between the two fields.


Both Fields of study and professions are taught similar skills in terms of identifying and diagnosing mental health issues. But psychiatrists are specifically skilled in aspects pertaining to human physiology and biochemistry.

Their background in medical practice greatly influences their aptitude in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses and mental disorders.

Psychologists may provide group therapy sessions in addition to individual therapy, whereas psychiatrists are more inclined to treat individuals rather than groups.


Both fields require candidates to pursue a higher degree in the form of a master's degree or a Ph.D., but psychiatry is deeply rooted in medical practices requiring an understanding of anatomy and human biology.

Additionally, It may take substantially longer to pursue a degree as a psychiatrist as you are required to complete an estimated four years of your college degree, four years of medical school, and four years of psychiatric residency, taking the total time of degree completion up to around 12 years.

Psychology does allow candidates to work towards their qualifications online, but since it is not possible to complete a medical degree online, psychiatry courses would need to be completed traditionally. This is also greatly due to the fact that psychiatry requires practical and hands-on training and experience.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychologists earn a median annual salary of $81,040, whereas the BLS states that psychiatrists earn a mean annual salary of $249,760.

Where Do They Practice?

Both psychologists and psychiatrists actively practice in public and private hospitals or clinics, as well as in their own established private practices.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for psychologists has an expected growth of 8% according to the BLS, whereas psychiatric technicians and aides have a projected career growth of 11%.


What Pays More, Psychology Or Psychiatry?

According to data and statistics provided by the BLS, psychiatrists earn substantially more than psychologists. However, pursuing the career of a psychiatrist requires far more work and dedication, and takes more time to pursue this field of study.

Can You Be A Psychiatrist with A Psychology Degree?

A psychology degree will provide you with a strong foundation, but it will not equip you with the practical and medical knowledge that you are required to hold for a career in psychiatry.

Do Patients Prefer A Psychiatrist Or Psychologist?

According to some studies that have been conducted, patients prefer psychological treatment as opposed to pharmaceutical treatment. With a mindful approach to mental disorders, many patients often opt for psychological treatment and seek psychiatric treatment as a last resort or on the recommendation of psychologists and other medical professionals.


No career path is better than the other and both psychology and psychiatry are deeply rooted in helping others. It is for this reason that whichever career path you will follow will require you to possess empathy and a deep-seated need to help others.

find psychology degrees and psychiatry degrees near you