Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can use therapy, medication and hospitalization to treat mental, emotional or behavioral disorders. This makes them different from psychologists, who can only use therapy as part of their treatment regimen. The salaries and benefits of psychiatrists differ by employer and location of the job.


Psychiatrists earned an average $174,170 per year, or $83.73 per hour, as of May 2011, states the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-earning received less than $67,460 annually, or $32.43 yearly, while the best-paid made over $187,199 yearly, or $90 per hour. ONET OnLine sees their jobs increasing by 20 percent to 28 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is in line with the BLS prediction of 24 percent growth for all physicians and surgeons, and far faster than the 14 percent expected for all workers in all U.S. occupations. The fuel for this growth will be a growing and aging population.


The biggest employers of psychiatrists in 2011, according to the BLS, were the offices of physicians, which included those professionals who were self-employed. With 6,030 out of the total 23,140 psychiatrist positions, this employment category showed average pay at $171,410 per year, or $82.41 per hour. Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals were next for jobs, with 3,860 professionals making a mean annual $175,390, or $84.32 per year. The highest paying employer was state government, showing average salaries of $198,730 per year, or $95.54 per hour. Outpatient care centers were next, with mean compensation of $194,610 yearly, or $93.56 hourly.


The state with the most jobs for psychiatrists in 2011 was California, the most populous state. It had 4,070 positions and mean wages of $192,290 per year, or $92.45 per hour. The city with the same distinction for both jobs and population was New York City, with 2,400 jobs paying an average $163,190 annually, or $78.46 per hour. For highest pay, Oregon led the state list with mean earnings of $229,040 per year, or $110.11 per hour. Among metropolitan areas, Riverside, California, ranked first for wages with means over $187,199 annually, or $90 per hour.


Aside from the satisfaction in helping patients to cope with mental and emotional issues, psychiatrists experience more tangible benefits that depend on their employment. Those who are self-employed can set their own schedules, choose the most interesting cases and set their compensation. Those working for a business receive the same perks to which all employees of that business are entitled. For example, at the University of California-San Francisco, residents in the Department of Psychiatry receive health insurance for medical, dental, vision, life and disability; malpractice coverage; vacation, sick leave and holidays; a contributory retirement plan; and day-and-a-half offsite retreat.

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