What Is A Psychiatrist's Salary?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 5, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

With psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, and more, there are be many types of mental health professionals in the industry, each with its own perspective on mental health care. Although it can be difficult to tell them apart as a layperson, these professions typically differ in many ways, including how much training they receive, their approach to mental health, and the types of treatment they can offer their clients. However, these professions tend to differ in one less apparent, although still crucial, aspect: salary. The average psychiatry salary can vary notably from that of other mental health professionals because the profession usually requires attending medical school and meeting higher qualifications than other options. 

So, how much does a psychiatrist make? These mental health professionals may earn around $250,000 per year, while other professionals usually make between $40,000 and $70,000 per year. This may help you understand why mental health care can come with a high cost. Attending therapy sessions online can be one way to enjoy more budget-friendly care. 

Psychiatry can work together with therapy for best results

What is psychiatry?

Psychiatry can be defined as the medical study of mental illnesses and disorders, which psychiatrists may diagnose and treat. Being a psychiatrist can be much like being a “regular” doctor, but instead of focusing on physical ailments, psychiatric professionals typically focus on the mind.

A trick to remember what a psychiatrist does may be to look into the origins of the word itself. The roots of the word "psychiatry" date back to ancient Greece. The ancient Greek words “psykhe" and “iatreia” can mean "mind" and "healing," respectively. Psychiatry, then, usually involves identifying and treating a patient's mental illnesses.

Psychiatrists normally treat disorders through a variety of methods, ranging from recommending talk therapy to administering electroconvulsive therapy. However, unlike other mental health professionals, psychiatrists can prescribe medication to their patients due to their status as medical doctors.

Diagnosing mental illnesses in psychiatry usually involves a lot of conversation and testing. Psychiatrists may meet with a patient to talk through the concerns they are experiencing and may order a physical examination as well.

After ruling out any physical disorders that can present symptoms that coincide with mental illnesses, the psychiatrist may diagnose the patient. Once a diagnosis has been achieved, they can begin a course of treatment. 

How psychiatrists differ from other mental health professionals

Just as medical doctors tend to make more money than nurses, psychiatrists tend to earn a higher salary than other mental health professionals. This difference in salary often stems from the amount of training that psychiatrists complete.

Licensed psychiatrists usually obtain extensive training before being able to practice. Psychiatrists are typically required to go through four years of an undergraduate degree, as well as four years of medical school. After this, they must normally complete an additional four-year residence in a hospital. Finally, psychiatrists may choose to undergo additional training to specialize in areas like geriatric psychiatry or sleep medicine.

Psychiatrists are also typically required to gain a state license to practice and are generally encouraged to become certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. This certification states that their psychiatrists are qualified to treat a host of psychiatric disorders by completing lab tests, prescribing medications, and providing whatever treatment is necessary. Board-certified psychiatrists can also provide intervention and consultant services.

In contrast, psychologists usually have advanced degrees in psychology, but have not normally attended medical school or completed a residency at a psychiatric hospital. While they may still be qualified to diagnose and treat their patients, psychologists typically use talk therapy to address the symptoms of mental health disorders. Because they do not usually have medical degrees, psychologists cannot normally prescribe medication and cannot order physical examinations to be done.

The training associated with becoming a social worker or professional counselor can involve completing a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. Upon completing a master's degree in social work, an internship and licensing processes are usually necessary. Social workers and professional counselors can address the mental health needs of their clients, too.

Though their methods and means of treating patients can vary greatly, psychologists, professional counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists typically work together as a team when treating a patient. Social workers may direct clients to a psychologist for therapy, while psychologists often refer patients to psychiatrists for medication. The cooperation of each mental health professional can be a necessary part of ensuring that patients are treated effectively and efficiently.

Psychiatry salary overview

A career in psychiatry can provide not only intellectual stimulation and the opportunity to help others, but also financial stability. If you’re considering proceeding with a psychiatric education (or are otherwise interested in the profession), you may be wondering, how much can a psychiatrist make?

A psychiatrist’s salary is often much higher than that of other mental health care professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2022, the mean annual salary for a psychiatrist is approximately $247,350 per year.
It can be hard to correctly predict exactly how much a psychiatrist will make, though. Psychiatrists' salaries can fluctuate based on where they live and practice, how much experience they have, and how specialized their practice is. For example, a psychiatrist with 30 years of experience in the field, living in a high-need area, will typically make more money than a newly licensed psychiatrist. Similarly, a psychiatrist who has specialized in a specific subsection of their field, such as child and adolescent psychiatry, will typically earn more than a general psychiatrist. 

Psychiatrists can earn more money by diversifying their practice areas. A psychiatrist who works in a clinic, for example, may decide to take shifts at a hospital to supplement their salary. Other potential sources of income could include stipends for research fellowships or monetary awards for exemplary work. For example, the Isaac Ray Award, which is given by the APA each year to a standout forensic psychiatrist, comes with a $1,500 prize. 

In general, a psychiatrist earns more per year than any other mental health professional. However, despite their medical degree, some psychiatrists earn less than other medical doctors. The comparison depends on a variety of factors. For example, a brain surgeon with years of experience may earn far more than a general psychiatrist with only a few years of experience. Location may also cause these salaries to fluctuate. 

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Apart from salary, psychiatrists often cite doctor-patient relationships and flexible hours as additional benefits of the job. If you’d like to learn more about psychiatrists’ salaries, consider checking the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS will periodically update its Psychiatrist page with information on current wage rates, top-paying US regions, and other salary-related metrics. 

How much do other mental health professionals make?

As opposed to a psychiatrist’s salary, the salaries of other mental health professionals tend to vary greatly. These salaries can be more similar to those of any other professional, rather than that of a doctor.

Psychologist, counselor, social worker, and therapist salary estimates can be anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 per year. Although these mental health professionals often have advanced degrees and years of experience, they still typically make far less than the average psychiatrist due to their lack of a medical degree.

Much like the salary of a psychiatrist, however, the salaries of other mental health professionals can vary based on location, experience, and specialization. A psychologist with decades of experience and a specialization in industrial-organizational psychology or forensic psychology, for example, could make more than other types of psychologists.

What can you do next?

Learning the average salary of mental health professionals, as well as understanding the training and experience that goes into these professions, can demystify the high costs of mental health care. Even so, these costs often make it difficult for many people to obtain professional mental health support.

When seeking the help of a mental health professional, many hope to find a trusted, experienced care provider that won't break their budgets. However, receiving this type of psychiatric care can be expensive, overwhelming, and inaccessible at times. If care from a local mental health professional is out of reach, there may still be a way to seek professional help for mental health symptoms or simply to receive support and advice.

Psychiatry can work together with therapy for best results

Combatting mental health concerns while determining your career path

Online therapy can provide help that is discreet and available on your time, which generally means that you can speak to a professional at a time and location that makes sense for your schedule. Whether you’re looking to pursue regular care or would like to gain insight as you start your own path into the world of mental health treatment, an online therapist can help. 

Meeting with a therapist through the web may not only be convenient, but it can also save you a lot of money. One review of several studies analyzing the efficacy of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) noted that online treatment can be more effective, as well as more budget-friendly, than in-person treatment. 

Psychiatrists generally make significantly higher salaries than other mental health professionals due to the rigorous training and education they must go through before beginning to practice. Because they’re usually more similar to doctors than therapists, psychiatrists typically have a salary to match, often making roughly $250,000 per year as compared to $40,000 to $70,000 per year for others in the field. Familiarizing yourself with mental health professionals’ salaries can help you understand why mental health care can be so expensive. However, a lower-cost alternative to in-person professional support may be online therapy.
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