Professions With the Longest Schooling

Professions With the Longest Schooling

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In a day and age where a regular old college degree doesn’t get you much farther than a GED did 20 years ago, many people choose the fraught-filled path of an even higher education. No matter the profession, most employers are looking for applicants who put in the time and money (and more money, and then maybe a bit more) to excel in their chosen field. Educational requirements are more demanding for some professions than others. Here are some professions with the longest schooling.



Becoming a dentist is more than having good flossing habits and a killer smile. The initial degree is five years (tack another year onto that if you’re going for honors), then another two years of clinical experience, and then post-graduate studies. This is mainly due to the specialization necessary for the profession. You can choose to focus on orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, maxillofacial surgery…the first year is just learning what all those words mean!


There’s a reason that Doogie Howser isn’t actually your doctor. Medical school is notoriously long, and surgeons have it even rougher — four-to-five years for medical school, two years internship and residency, three-to-eight years as a fellow in your chosen specialty, and then you can be a real, bonafide surgeon. And it’s not nearly as fun as they make it look on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Doctors are usually way less attractive than Patrick Dempsey.


It makes sense that it takes a while to be an engineer. You need to know everything from chemistry, to physics, to biology and the way whatever you create interacts with the environment. Not to mention the actual mechanics of building an elaborate system. Whether you specialize in mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, biomedical, or anything else, you’re looking at a minimum three-to-five years to snag that degree.


Elle Woods may have made it look easy in the film, “Legally Blonde,” but law school is no joke. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ve got four years of law school, up to six if you’re going for a double degree, and each one is harder than the last, not to mention, you have to pass the dreaded bar. You’ve basically got to memorize every important (and not-so-important) case in history, all the accompanying legal jargon, and how to make a point to a roomful of jurors who would likely rather be anywhere else. Also, why do they call it a brief when it’s anything but?

Construction management/Architecture

You may have been a Lego wunderkind as a child, but building the real deal takes a bit more schooling. The degree takes anywhere from four to six years, and then you’re still looking at being somebody’s coffee assistant for at least a few more. Especially in architecture, jobs are hard to come by, whereas you’ll have to work your way up from the bottom in construction, despite how well-schooled you might be!

Marine Biology

More than feeding the cute dolphins at Sea World, being a marine biologist means knowing how to do everything from working a plankton net and trawl, to operating underwater video cameras and vehicles, reading a sonar and hydrophone, and tracking satellite tags across the world. And to get one of these highly sought-after positions, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and most likely a Ph.D., not to mention a ton of relevant experience.


Though it varies, it’s said that it takes about seven years to become a priest. Usually after an undergraduate degree (although some skip this step), you need to study at a seminary and learn the ins-and-outs of not only the religion you will be practicing, but other faiths too. This normally takes three years, including a foundation year, academic phase, and pre-pastoral phase. Then there’s a yearlong internship at a parish, followed by another one-to-two years of studying in preparation for priesthood, and finally you’ll receive your robes.

Veterinary science

After an undergraduate degree with hopefully a focus on some type of animal biology or behavior, you need to attend four more years at an accredited veterinary school. After years of cramming in everything that could be wrong with the beloved Fido, you need to pass the veterinary medical board examination. And being a vet isn’t all giving treats to puppies and bandaging the damaged wings of orphaned birds. There’s a ton of science that goes into the field. Vets need to stay up to speed to be at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments.


Psychiatry is a highly respected profession and has the necessary schooling to prove it. After getting a bachelor’s degree, you need to head to medical school just like everyone else to receive a MD (or a DO degree from a school of osteopathy also suffices). This is still followed up by a four-year residency, three of which focus on psychiatry. Then you’ll have to pass a written and oral test, then a board certification exam. But if you think that’s it, think again. Board certification needs to be renewed every 10 years, so be ready to get sucked back in. Your education is never really over.


OK, so this kind of varies from situation to situation, but the truth of the matter is, if you’re an academic, plan on spending the rest of your life in school. Whether you become a college professor or write long, narrowly-read academic pieces for little-known journals, you’ll most likely have a bachelor’s degree, master’s, doctorate, Ph.D., and whatever other degrees are out there. Because when you’re an academic, schooling is far more than a purpose to an end.