How Much Does a Psychiatrist Make a Year?

By Emily Greenhill Pierce · April 02, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How Much Does a Psychiatrist Make a Year?

A career as a psychiatrist can be highly rewarding, both professionally and financially, with the average annual salary in the U.S. coming in at $259,497, according to ZipRecruiter.

Becoming a psychiatrist requires a lot of dedication and time — 12 years on average. But as the need for mental health services outstrips demand in the U.S., the outlook for a career in psychiatry is strong. Indeed, the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration predicts a shortage of 39,550 psychiatrists by 2030 if current supply and utilization patterns continue.

Read on to learn more about how much a psychiatrist makes, as well as the job’s requirements, duties, and benefits.

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What Are Psychiatrists?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. They are qualified to assess mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, and prescribe medication.

The duties of a psychiatrist generally include:

•   Assessing patients’ mental health through interviews, reviewing medical history, and testing

•   Delivering an accurate diagnosis and developing a treatment plan

•   Consulting with other mental health professionals

•   Prescribing medication if needed

•   Following up with patients and making treatment adjustments if necessary

•   Documenting each patient’s diagnosis and progress

•   Offering emotional support and coping mechanisms

•   Staying current on new developments and psychiatric treatment methods

An effective psychiatrist should be able to:

•   Be compassionate and empathetic. These qualities allow a psychiatrist to understand what’s going on with their patients.

•   Establish trust. Patients need to feel safe opening up to their doctors.

•   Be patient. The road to mental wellness can be a long one.

•   Possess strong communication skills. Psychiatry is not a job for introverts. A successful psychiatrist needs to be able to actively listen, provide guidance, and communicate solutions.

•   Maintain flexibility. The job requires flexibility in both your schedule and treatment approaches in order to provide customized help for each patient.

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How Much Do Starting Psychiatrists Make a Year?

Professional psychiatrists can make over $100,000, even as a starting salary. Both the bottom 10% of earners and beginning psychiatrists make, on average, $133,000 a year.

What is the Average Salary for a Psychiatrist?

Being a psychiatrist is one of the highest paying jobs in the U.S. The typical salary ranges from $68,500 to $399,000 a year, with the average psychiatrist salary in the U.S. landing at $259,497. However, location makes a significant impact on how much a psychiatrist gets paid, with the average salary in New York City coming in at $283,899.

A psychiatrist can command a yearly salary or an hourly wage in a private practice. As for how much a psychiatrist makes in an hour, the national average is $125.

What is the Average Psychiatrist Salary by State?

Psychiatrists can earn competitive pay no matter where they live and work. However, geographic location does have an influence on how much a psychiatrist makes. Here’s a look at the average psychiatrist annual salary by state.

State Average Psychiatrist Salary
Alabama $217,814
Alaska $298,011
Arizona $223,941
Arkansas $219,763
California $245,539
Colorado $278,076
Connecticut $222,803
Delaware $261,403
Florida $179,578
Georgia $202,911
Hawaii $291,670
Idaho $234,887
Illinois $257,543
Indiana $228,670
Iowa $220,963
Kansas $208,315
Kentucky $232,552
Louisiana $201,803
Maine $239,807
Maryland $253,160
Massachusetts $294,407
Michigan $230,206
Minnesota $231,135
Mississippi $221,239
Missouri $246,222
Montana $220,568
Nebraska $247,756
Nevada $281,771
New Hampshire $235,468
New Jersey $241,638
New Mexico $229,833
New York $264,317
North Carolina $239,059
North Dakota $297,964
Ohio $224,669
Oklahoma $239,933
Oregon $299,484
Pennsylvania $242,134
Rhode Island $277,392
South Carolina $244,097
South Dakota $281,608
Tennessee $214,493
Texas $233,306
Utah $214,648
Vermont $258,108
Virginia $257,621
Washington $284,970
West Virginia $187,004
Wisconsin $239,303
Wyoming $231,732

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Psychiatrist Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

A professional psychiatrist can earn a high salary while helping to improve the lives of others. But there are a lot of steps you need to take in order to become a licensed psychiatrist. These include:

1.    Earning a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology, biology or biochemistry.

2.    Taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is a challenging standardized test used as an admissions requirement when applying for a medical degree program.

3.    Applying to and attending medical school. Medical school typically takes about four years to complete as a full-time student.

4.    Completing a four-year medical residency. This is required to obtain your medical license and involves treating patients in real-world scenarios. It’s generally a good idea to obtain your license in the same state you intend to practice in.

In addition to a strong job prospects and a high salary, psychiatrists who work for a public, private, or government institution may be eligible for the following job benefits:

•   Health insurance — medical, vision, and dental

•   Life and disability insurance

•   Vacation and holiday pay

•   Paid sick leave

•   Retirement plans

•   Malpractice coverage

Of course, if you open your own practice, you’ll have to cover those benefits yourself. But you’ll have the flexibility to set your own schedule and session rates.

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Pros and Cons of Being a Psychiatrist

As with any profession, there are positive and negative sides to being a psychiatrist. Here’s a closer look at the jobs pros and cons.

Pros of Being a Psychiatrist

•   Opportunity to help others: One of the reasons people enter the field of psychiatry is to help change people for the better and, in some cases, save their lives.

•   Mix of patients: You’ll be challenged with helping people of all different ages and backgrounds to achieve mental wellness.

•   Work in a variety of places: Psychiatrists can work in private offices, hospitals, schools, mental health clinics, and other institutions.

•   Form relationships: In addition to establishing relationships with their patients, many psychiatrists have the opportunity to work with other professionals, including psychologists and occupational therapists, as part of a holistic treatment plan.

•   Be your own boss: If you decide to form your own practice, you’ll be able to set your own schedule and session rates.

•   Job security: As noted above, psychiatry is one of the types of jobs that are currently in demand.

Cons of Being a Psychiatrist

•   Emotionally draining: Caring for patients, especially those who have dealt with traumatic experiences, can be emotionally exhausting. The stress of responsibility coupled with intense sessions can potentially lead to professional burnout.

•   Substantial educational debt: The 12 years or more of school plus residency required to become a psychiatrist can be costly and leave you a lot of student loans to repay.

•   Irregular hours: Many psychiatrists have to be flexible in order to accommodate working patients and don’t work the traditional nine-to-five hours.

•   Fluctuating income: The goal of any psychiatrist is to help people manage their lives on their own, which means patients (hopefully) come and go. If you have a private practice, you could experience fluctuations in income from year to year.

•   Physical danger: Unfortunately, some more severely mentally ill patients can potentially become physically violent with their doctors.

•   Risk of lawsuits: Patients can sue their psychiatrist for prescription errors, a misdiagnosis, or session misconduct. Your place of work or private practice will have to have malpractice insurance.

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The Takeaway

You can earn a lot of money working as a psychiatrist if you are willing to spend years on your education, with the average psychiatrist salary coming in at $259,497. But helping others is also calling. When you make a difference in a person’s life, the rewards can be more than financial.

Whatever type of job you pursue, you’ll want to make sure your earnings can cover your everyday expenses. To help ensure your monthly inflows always exceed your monthly outflows, try creating a budget and check out financial tools that can help track your income and spending.

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Can you make $100k a year as a psychiatrist?

Yes. The average salary range for a psychiatrist is $68,500 and $399,000 a year.

Do people like being a psychiatrist?

While the job can be emotionally draining at times, many psychiatrists find tremendous satisfaction in helping others.

Is it hard to get hired as a psychiatrist?

No. There is currently a great demand for psychiatrists, and there will likely always be a need to help patients with mental health issues.

Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

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