How to Become an Adolescent Psychiatrist

As children transition into their adult years, they can run into some emotional challenges which an adolescent psychiatrist can assist with helping them to regain control over their lives. As a psychiatrist specializing in adolescent treatment, you will work with both the adolescent as well as their families, to help them to understand the different disorders that can occur for a variety of reasons.

Whether the disorder is caused by a biological, psychological, or environmental issue, you will be able to effectively diagnose and evaluate the problem in a holistic fashion, paying attention to the way genetics, developmental stages, and other contributing factors play a role in the adolescent’s life.

Where Does an Adolescent Psychiatrist Work?

As an adolescent psychiatrist, there are a few places you can expect to work, such as hospitals, mental health facilities, and even private practice. Most who work in the field work full-time, with some nights and weekends, depending on where they are employed.

You can also provide consultation in school, hospital, and court settings, offering your specialized knowledge to others to assist adolescents in need. Those in the academic medical centers and specialty areas primarily focus on specific diagnoses and work on developing new approaches and assessment tools.

What are the Requirements to Become an Adolescent Psychiatrist?


Upon completion of your undergraduate degree, you will need to complete medical school. In addition, you will need to attend at fours years of residency training in general psychiatry. During your education, you may learn a variety of topics, including medicine, neurology, and general psychiatry.

Additionally, you may also learn about how to most effectively diagnose individuals, through the use of specialized assessment tools. Focus is placed on disorders that are more common among the adolescent population, such as developmental disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and mood disorders.


After graduating from medical school, you will need to obtain a state license to practice medicine. Licensing requirements may vary depending on the state in which you want to practice, so you should check with your licensing department to ensure you are on the right track.


After completing a residency in general psychiatry, you will need to complete two years of specialized ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) accredited training in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Upon successful completion of the educational, training, board certification in general psychiatry, and other requirements, you will need to pass the child and adolescent psychiatry sub-specialty certification examination, which is administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Its is highly recommended to visit ABPN website for detailed certification requirements.

Recommended External Resource: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology – Become Certified

Another option is to participate in a triple board in which during five years of training, graduates are board-eligible in pediatric, general psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Skills and Qualities

Both effective listening and communication skills are necessary in being a successful adolescent psychiatrist. You will be working with a variety of individuals on the treatment team, which you will need to work collectively for the best outcome of the client.

Additionally, critical thinking skills are useful as you will be called upon to assess clients and understand why they are behaving a certain way. While roughly 60% of your time will be spent with clients and their parents, the remaining amount of your time will most likely be spent working on administrative duties, teaching, or assisting with research needs. As such, it is important to possess common clerical skills which can help you with your work away from clients.

What is the Salary for an Adolescent Psychiatrist?

Depending on where you work, you can expect to work between 40 and 60 hours per week, sometimes more. You can also elect to work additional shifts on-call, which may increase your salary.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual salary of psychiatrists is $220,430, as of May 2021. The top three states with the highest salaries for a psychiatrist is Maine, Arizona, and North Dakota, with each earning an average of over $110 per hour, and over $225,000 per year. The higher salaries are associated with private practice and outpatient care centers.

What is the Job Outlook for Adolescent Psychiatrists?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job outlook for physicians and surgeons, including psychiatrists, is positive. Employment is expected to grow 3% from 2021 to 2031, which is faster than average job growth.

The states with the highest employment level of psychiatrists are California, New York, and Texas. With changing health insurance requirements, more people may be able to seek out mental health care, for both themselves and their children.

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