What Is the Employment Outlook for a Psychiatrist Career?

Psychiatrists attend medical school and are fully trained in psychotherapy, psychopharmacology and electroconvulsive therapy. They prescribe and administer medications, as well as treating more intense mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The market for all physicians and surgeons is expected to grow quickly over the next several years. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Growth

There were an estimated 24,210 psychiatrists practicing in the country in May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of physician and surgeon jobs, which includes psychiatrists, is expected to grow faster than most fields, increasing 18% between 2012 and 2022. Although the BLS expects job prospects to be good overall, rural areas might have more job opportunities.

Reasons for Growth

The expansion of the healthcare industry and improved access to health insurance due to healthcare reform are two factors that will drive growth for all physicians and surgeons. More professionals will be needed to treat the aging population and newly insured patients who are gaining access to healthcare. However, there may be less demand due to out-of-pocket costs for some health services. In addition, hospitals might hire other professionals who can provide routine services at a lower cost, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Salary Information

Like many physicians, psychiatrists have relatively high incomes. The BLS reported that the median salary for these professionals was $173,330 in May 2012. The lowest-paid psychiatrists earned an annual wage of $70,920 or less.

Salary by Employer

Out of the five top industries that employed these workers, salaries for those working for other residential care facilities were the highest, at $212,490 on average in May 2012, reported the BLS. Average salaries were $176,930 for physicians' offices, $177,670 for psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals and $164,830 for general hospitals. Psychiatrists working for colleges, professional schools and universities earned an average wage of $144,440.

Salary by Location

According to the BLS, states paying psychiatrists the highest average wages in May 2012 included Maine ($232,390), Oregon ($228,580), Idaho ($219,340), Wyoming ($215,680) and North Dakota ($210,580). States paying the lowest average wages included Montana ($136,390), Ohio ($157,830) and Utah ($112,810).

Training Requirements

Psychiatrists prepare for 9-11 years before taking full-time positions. Before being licensed to practice, they must complete four years of medical school, participate in one year of rotations and undergo 4-6 years of residency in psychiatry. During this time they can choose a specialty, such as child and adolescent psychiatry, emergency psychiatry or neuropsychiatry.

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