The average psychiatrist salary is $220,380 per year. If that sounds like a lot, it is. When comparing median annual pay, psychiatry is the highest-paying occupation out there with a median annual salary of $208,000+.
You aren’t guaranteed to make that much though. Some psychiatrists make significantly more or significantly less depending on where they work and their experience level.
Unless otherwise noted, the following data comes from the May 2018 Occupational Employment Wages data on psychiatrists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Average Psychiatrist Salary by Industry
When evaluating your earning potential as a psychiatrist, it helps to look at what a psychiatrist earns based on the industry they work in. For reference, the average psychiatrist salary is $220,380 per year.
Average Psychiatrist Salary in the Top-Paying Industries
Psychiatrists working in the following industries make the most money:
- Home Health Care Services: $253,370 average annual salary
- Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals): $253,140 average annual salary
- Outpatient Care Centers: $241,820 average annual salary
- Community Food and Housing, and Emergency and Other Relief Services: $236,960 average annual salary
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $231,090 average annual salary
Average Psychiatrist Salary in the Lowest-Paying Industries
These are some of the lowest-paying industries for psychiatrists as of May 2018:
- State-Owned General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $84,090 average annual salary
- State-Owned Educational Services: $145,040 average annual salary
- State-Owned Colleges and Universities: $145,550 average annual salary
- Offices of Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists and Audiologists: $170,320 average annual salary
- Services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities: $178,910 average annual salary
Average Psychiatrist Salary in the Most Popular Industry
A total of 25,630 psychiatrists work in the United States. The largest group of them (more than 9,000) work in Offices of Physicians. These psychiatrists have an average salary of $220,010, and 90% earn more than $85,570.
Average Psychiatrist Salary by Experience Level
As a psychiatrist, you could easily start out making six figures. And, your income will increase over time as you gain experience and credibility in the field. Payscale reports* that psychiatrists make the following based on their number of years of experience:
- Less than 1 year of experience: $187,002 average annual salary
- 1-4 years of experience: $193,947 average annual salary
- 5-9 years of experience: $200,323 average annual salary
- 10-19 years of experience: $200,323 average annual salary
- 20+ years of experience: $200,323 average annual salary
*Payscale collects data directly from employees while the BLS collects salary information from employers.
Average Psychiatrist Salary by State and City
Just like how the industry you work in affects your pay, the state and city you work in does too.
States with the Highest Average Psychiatrist Salary
The BLS identifies the following as the top five states/territories that pay psychiatrists the most on average:
- Hawaii: $269,800 average annual salary
- Connecticut: $258,200 average annual salary
- Maine: $256,270 average annual salary
- California: $255,790 average annual salary
- New Mexico: $255,410 average annual salary
Why do psychiatrists make so much more money in these states? The cost of living plays a big role. Hawaii, California, and Connecticut are 1st, 2nd, and 9th on CNBC’s 2019 list of states with the highest cost of living. It might feel nice to be making more money, but you’ll need to spend that extra money on housing, utility, transportation, medical, and food expenses.
Cities with the Highest Average Psychiatrist Salary
If you really want to maximize your earning potential, consider working in one of the following metropolitan areas. The BLS identifies the following as the top-paying metropolitan areas for psychiatrists:
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: $285,030 average annual salary
- Urban Honolulu, HI: $282,940 average annual salary
- Wichita Falls, TX: $282,380 average annual salary
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $282,210 average annual salary
- Tucson, AZ: $281,460 average annual salary
States with the Lowest Average Psychiatrist Salary
Psychiatrists earn much less on average in some states. Here are lowest-paying states for psychiatrists:
- Louisiana: $120,090 average annual salary
- Utah: $145,700 average annual salary
- Arkansas: $153,920 average annual salary
- Alabama: $166,220 average annual salary
- West Virginia: $166,400 average annual salary
Is Becoming a Psychiatrist Worth It?
Psychiatrists are medical physicians that diagnose and treat mental disorders. To become one, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree, graduate from medical school, complete a four-year residency in psychiatry, and pass licensing and Board exams. If you choose a subspecialty like geriatric psychiatry, you then need one to years of fellowship training.
All-in-all, becoming a licensed psychiatrist will take 12 to 14 years.
During those 12 to 14 years, you can expect to spend an average of $10,440 per year on tuition and fees for your bachelor’s degree and an average of $32,520 per year on tuition for medical school. This is assuming you’re a resident attending only public universities, and it doesn’t include room and board.
Unfortunately, the cost of becoming a psychiatrist stays with you far longer than just your 12 to 14 years in college. The American Academy of Medical Colleges reports that 75% of all medical students in the class of 2018 graduated with debt. Of these students, the average medical school debt (not including undergrad) was $196,520.
Is spending all that time and money to become a psychiatrist worth it?
It all depends on how driven and passionate you are, how you plan to pay for college, and how you plan to pay it all back. If you complete your degree and make smart financial decisions during and after college, becoming a psychiatrist will pay off in the end. This is especially true if you apply for and receive career-based loan forgiveness.
Programs for psychiatrists that repay some or all of their educational debt include:
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment: Up to $50,000 in student loan repayment in exchange for a two-year service commitment (child and adolescent psychiatrists only)
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program: Up to $35,000 in loan repayment in exchange for a two-year research commitment
VA Education Debt Reduction Program: Up to $200,000 in student loan repayment over a five-year period for psychiatrists who fill difficult-to-recruit positions in VA hospitals
State Loan Repayment Programs: State-run programs that award psychiatrists loan repayment in exchange for a service commitment in high need areas
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Up to 100% of federal student loan forgiveness for psychiatrists who work in the public sector and make eligible payments for 10 years.
Other savvy financial moves you can make before and after becoming a psychiatrist include:
- Starting out at a community college and then transferring to a four-year college or university to save money on your bachelor’s degree
- Living at home during college to save on rising room and board costs
- Borrowing only the minimum amount of money needed to cover mandatory costs like tuition, fees, room, and board
- Exhausting all federal borrowing options before taking out any private loans so that you can take full advantage of federal protections like loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment
- Making at least interest-only payments throughout your schooling to prevent your loan balance from growing
- Refinancing your private student loans to reduce your monthly payment and/or lower your interest rate
- Negotiating a signing bonus when you apply for jobs and then using that bonus to repay your student loans
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Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
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