A career in psychiatry can be rewarding — not to mention lucrative. In addition to helping patients find solutions to mental health, addiction and emotional disorders, many psychiatrists bring home six-figure salaries each year. If you’re hoping to get into the field, you have a long educational road to travel that can take eight to nine years to complete. Not counting undergrad, you will have four years of medical school, and then another four years of residency. Psychiatrists who deal directly with patients, sometimes referred to as counseling psychiatrists, earn more than those involved in research or teaching, also known as academic psychiatrists.
In 2011, psychiatrists averaged $174,170 a year, the Bureau of Labor Statistic notes. Because high salaries — as seen in government facilities and employment services — can skew the figure, median wage is a better predictor of earning potential. Half of all psychiatrists earned $170,350 a year or less in 2011. Neither salary, however, differentiates academic psychiatrists, who are involved in research and education, from those treating patients. The pay scales are different.
As far as counseling psychiatry goes, the most lucrative option is to set up shop in a “single-specialty” group practice, according to a survey by Medscape, an integrated medical information site. As of 2012, a psychiatrist in this practice setting averages $197,000 a year. Those working in multispecialty settings -- group practices where each psychiatrist specializes in a different disorder or demographic -- average $182,000 a year. Health organizations, on the other hand, pay psychiatrists $177,000 a year, while hospitals offer psychiatrists salaries of $174,000 a year, on average. Psychiatrists in a solo practice earn the least when it comes to counseling, with an average salary of $165,000 a year. To give you an idea of what a non-counseling psychiatrist earns, you need only look at the academic setting, where salaries average $154,000 a year, so it pays to counsel patients instead of studying them.
In addition to practice setting, gender has a significant impact on earnings. Even with the same education and experience, women practicing psychiatry earn less than men. As of 2012, a female psychiatrist earns an average of $151,000 a year, while a male earns an average of $182,000 a year.
As with any job, location affects salaries, and psychiatrists are no exception. Those working in the north central part of the U.S., such as Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, average the most in a year. Salaries work out to about $188,000 annually. The western and Great Lakes regions tied for second, averaging $182,000 a year. The least lucrative part of the U.S. goes to the Northwest, which includes Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming. In this area, you’re looking at an average salary of $152,000 a year — about $20,000 less than the national average for all psychiatrists.
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