While helping people with mental health and substance abuse problems is inherently rewarding, you may wonder if all the years of hard work and dedication necessary to become a psychiatrist are worth it. In addition to more than a decade of school, you'll have to complete a four-year residency in psychiatry, followed by a series of difficult licensing examinations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests all that hard work will pay off in the end, however, as the job outlook for this profession is positive.
If you become a psychiatrist, you'll have a lot of well-paid colleagues. There were between 22,400 and 23,880 psychiatrists in the United States, according to the May 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, survey. The mean salary is between $171,383 and $176,957 annually, which is between $82 and $85 per hour. There is a range in salaries, with those in the tenth percentile making about $32.43 per hour while the those in the 75th percentile were making $90 or more per hour.
How easily you will find work and how much you'll be compensated depend on the industry for which you work. The 2011 BLS survey found that 6,030 psychiatrists worked in physicians' offices, the highest employment concentration. Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, outpatient centers and hospitals each employed about half as many psychiatrists as did physician's offices. The government tended to pay the most, however, with a mean wage of about $198,730 annually, followed by outpatient centers at $194,610 annually.
Where you live will also affect the number of jobs available and how much you'll make. The three states with the highest number of psychiatrists were California at 4,070, New York at 3,220 and Texas at 1,500. States where psychiatrists were paid the most, however, were Oregon at $229,040 followed by Minnesota at $216,360. In New Jersey, Kansas and Indiana, they earned just over $207,000 annually. Among major metropolitan areas, Los Angeles was highest at $201,060 annually, followed by Oakland at $193,490.
Your job will continue to be in demand over time. The 2010 BLS survey indicated that employment of all physicians is expected to "grow by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations." The BLS speculates that the reasons for this growth are expansion of health care-related industries and a growing and aging population. To meet this demand, many medical schools are increasing the number of students they admit.
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.