What Factors Affect a Psychiatrist Starting Salary?

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  • Written By: Angela Colley
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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A psychiatrist works with patients who exhibit different types and degrees of mental disorders and can prescribe medication and provide other treatment to patients. Factors such as location, amount of competition, and the type of employer affect psychiatrist starting salary. Other factors, such as choosing to specialize over having a general practice, can also effect psychiatrist starting salary as specialists are often paid more than those with more generalized practices.

Location plays a factor in the starting salary of any career field, including a psychiatrist starting salary. Some areas of the United States have a higher cost of living then other areas, meaning rent and housing, gasoline, and even groceries cost more than in other areas. Generally, having a higher cost of living also drives up the average starting salary for a psychiatrist. For example, a psychiatrist starting in a large metropolitan area is likely to make more than a psychiatrist starting out in a more rural or suburban area.

Competition is a driving factor in a psychiatrist starting salary. If the level of demand for psychiatric services is similar, a psychiatrist working in a highly populated area with several other psychiatrists may make a lower starting salary then a psychiatrist working in a less populated area with fewer practitioners in his or her field.


The type of industry is also a factor in psychiatrist starting salary. Many different types of facilities hire psychiatrists, and each may have its own average psychiatrist starting salary. For example, a psychiatrist working in private care, such as a nursing care facility or a government funded facility may make a higher starting salary then a psychiatrist working in a substance abuse center or local public health clinic.

Psychiatrists who specialize in a particular area may make a higher starting salary then those who choose to generalize their medical practice. For example, a psychiatrist who studies drug abuse extensively and works in a private rehabilitation clinic may make a higher starting salary then a psychiatrist who chooses to practice general psychiatry in a hospital. Likewise, the demand for the specialty and the number of specialists available also effect the starting salary.


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