How to Become a Geriatric Psychiatrist

A geriatric psychiatrist is someone who works with seniors, people in retirement homes, or individuals who are dealing with mental problems due to their advancing age. Their main duties include training senior citizens via cognition and memory exercises.

In certain cases, you will be expected to deal with the patient’s family or friends and provide them with advice on how they can better care for their elders. As a geriatric psychiatrist, you’ll spend time in a variety of work environments including senior centers, mental health clinics, private health offices, and facilities for senior care.

Educational Requirements

In order to become a geriatric psychiatrist, you’ll first need to acquire a high school degree. After this, you’ll need to attend a four year university. While university programs tend to differ slightly in their educational approaches, you should expect to complete about 120 hours of study courses and around 45 hours of psychology courses.

General courses including humanities, science, history, and English will make up the remainder of the classes. Psychology classes must be taken before becoming a geriatric psychiatrist. They will help you learn about the human mind and human behavior. Psychology classes can range anywhere from social psychology to developmental psychology and even abnormal psychology. Only after you have acquire a four year degree will you be able to move up to post-graduation education.


After you graduate with a 4 year degree, you’ll want to go on to receive your PhD. You can also receive a Doctorate in Psychology. The majority of universities do offer specialized programs designed for students interested in becoming psychiatrists.

Keep in mind that PhD programs will require a lot of coursework as well as clinical experience. You’ll be able to receive hands-on training about geriatric counseling and how to deal with senior citizens. Written dissertations are required to successfully graduate and it will need to be presented orally in front of a committee.

Getting Licensed

Once you have received your PhD, you’ll want to go ahead and acquire your psychiatry license. This can only be obtained via the State Board of Psychology. It’s important to note that each state will have slightly different requirements for obtaining a license. With all of them, you’ll need to pass something called an “Examination of Professional Practice of Psychology”.

Certain states will require that you take tests twice per year while others place more emphasis on the amount of clinical experience that you have. Before a licensed is issued, the state board will examine the student and determine the amount of relevant training and experience they have. As a licensed psychologist, you’ll be able to successfully practice geriatric psychiatry.


The average annual salary for a geriatric psychiatrist is about $70,000. However, this number can vary greatly depending on where you are situated, your client history, and the amount of relevant knowledge you have. If you’re working in a private practice then you should expect to earn more than if you were working in a mental health clinic. Also, salaries for geriatric psychiatrists will be much higher in metropolitan areas than rural areas.

Working Conditions

Once you acquire the necessary educational training, you’ll be able to fulfill your duties as a geriatric psychiatrist and work with senior citizens. You’ll either end up working in a private practice or at a public mental health facility. Most geriatric psychiatrists will end up working in retirement homes or communities.

With this position, you’ll usually work in well lit, clean, and soothing environments. You have to provide services in assisted living centers, clinics, or hospitals. Becoming a geriatric psychiatrist is perfect for anyone who wants to work in the medical industry and who doesn’t mind have a structured work schedule.

Career Outlook and Advancement Opportunities

Like many positions within the medical field, a geriatric psychiatrist will have the opportunity of being promoted to a supervisory position once they acquire the necessary knowledge and expertise. As long as you continue to work in the same healthcare facility, there is a good chance that you’ll be promoted to a management position.

Depending on your level of expertise, you can choose to start your own private practice. Studies have shown that the majority of senior citizens are going to experience some form of mental ailment. This ensures a growing demand for geriatric psychiatrists for years to come. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, close to 1/5th of the population in the United States is going to be over 65 years old by the year 2030.

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