Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist: A Detailed Look at Difference in Salaries

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on September 5, 2023
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If you’ve ever found yourself contemplating a career in mental health or simply curious about the financial aspects of these two crucial roles, you’re not alone.

The question sometimes arises: “What’s the difference between a psychiatrist’s and a psychologist’s salary?”

If you’re considering a career change or a prospective job, and you’re thinking between these two options, read on.

Our Online Mental Health Review Team comprises practicing psychologists deeply rooted in the mental health field. We don’t just write about it; we live it, offering firsthand insights into salary and work experiences.

In this article, we’ll talk about differences in salaries, so let’s get started!

Understanding the Roles

Before delving into the medical degree’s financial specifics, it’s essential to understand the roles of a psychiatrist and psychologist.

  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They can prescribe medication and often work with patients to prescribe medications to manage their mental health conditions pharmacologically.
  • On the other hand, psychologists focus on providing psychotherapy to help individuals cope with various mental health issues. They employ different therapeutic techniques to treat patients but cannot prescribe medication (in most states).

Main Differences Between a Psychologist and Psychiatrist

Let’s break down some of these distinctions.

  • Education: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed medical school, while psychologists usually hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in psychology.
  • Prescribing Medication: Only psychiatrists, as licensed medical doctors, can prescribe medication for mental health conditions.
  • Treatment Focus: Psychologists often focus on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering with behavioral intervention. On the other hand, psychiatrists may use medication as part of their treatment approach.
  • Research vs. Clinical Practice: Psychologists are more likely to conduct research and studies around human behavior, while psychiatrists typically work in clinical settings to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, such as anxiety.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong choice here – it depends on your needs and circumstances. Whether you see a psychologist or a psychiatrist, the most important thing is that you’re taking a step toward better mental health.

Factors Influencing Salaries


Several factors can influence these salary figures, including:

  • Location: Both psychiatrists and psychologists earn more in metropolitan areas due to higher living costs and excellent service demand.
  • Specialization: Those specialized in certain areas, such as neuropsychology or forensic psychiatry, may command higher salaries.
  • Experience: As with most professions, years of experience can significantly impact earnings.

What’s the difference between a psychologist’s and a psychiatrist’s salaries?

Let’s explore the critical salary differences between clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, two vital roles in mental health care, with both professions offering unique benefits and challenges.

The average or mean pay for a psychiatrist is $217,100. The average income for a psychologist is $82,180, but depending on where they work, it can change a lot.

  • Median Salary for Psychologists: According to several sources, the median pay for psychologists in the United States is between $80,000 and $94,764 annually. (source)
  • Median Salary for Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists, who are medical doctors specializing in mental health, have a significantly higher median salary, reported as $220,380 to $220,400 per year.
  • Variation in Salaries: The pay for both psychologists and psychiatrists can vary widely, often depending on factors such as location, specialization, and years of experience. (source)

You may want to read about online therapist or counselor salaries for more information about similar fields.

Salary Comparison: Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist Based on Experience

When choosing a fulfilling career in mental health, understanding the financial implications is essential. Let’s compare how the salaries of psychologists and psychiatrists can change based on their experience level.



Entry-Level Psychologists:

At the beginning of their careers, psychologists can expect to earn around $72,540 per year.

Experienced Psychologists:

With more years, psychologists can see their salary increase, with averages reaching up to $100,770 annually.

Entry-Level Psychiatrists:

Starting psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, often command higher salaries, earning an average of $220,380 per year.

Experienced Psychiatrists:

As they gain experience, psychiatrists can see dramatic increases in their earnings, with top professionals making well over $220,400 annually.

Remember, these figures can fluctuate based on various factors such as location, specialization, and more. Ultimately, choosing between these two rewarding careers should be guided by potential earnings and your passion for improving mental health.

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What is the career outlook for psychologists and psychiatrists?

As you consider a career in mental health, it’s essential to understand the prospects and growth potential within psychology and psychiatry.

  • Psychologist Career Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 3% job growth for psychologists from 2019 to 2029, indicating steady demand for these professionals.
  • Psychiatrist Career Outlook: For psychiatrists, the projected job growth is much higher at 16%, reflecting the increasing societal recognition of the importance of mental health. (source)
  • Increasing Mental Health Awareness: The growing awareness about mental health issues and the importance of addressing them could lead to increased demand for both psychologists and psychiatrists. (source)

Remember, choosing a career is not only about financial or job security; it’s about fulfilling your passion and making a difference in people’s lives.

TraitLab Helps You Discover Whether You’re A Psychologist Or Psychiatrist

TraitLab Review

Navigating a career in psychology can sometimes feel like traversing a vast, complex labyrinth. With so many paths, how do you pinpoint the one that best aligns with your unique personality traits and professional aspirations?

This is where TraitLab comes into play, which we note in our TraitLab review.

  • TraitLab offers a comprehensive, science-backed personality test for just $24 that can provide valuable insights to guide your career decisions in psychology.
  • Whether you’re a doctor, therapist, mental health professional, coach, or any other professional within the mental health sphere, this tool can help you understand your inherent strengths, preferences, and potential areas for growth.
  • It’s a small investment that may illuminate the right path, saving you time, money, and uncertainty in the long run.
  • The data gathered from this assessment can be particularly beneficial for those who value staying up-to-date with current scientific publications and are open to leveraging technology to enhance their career trajectory.

Remember, every career journey is unique, and understanding your personality traits is an essential part of that journey. TraitLab can serve as your compass, guiding you toward a fulfilling career in psychology that aligns with who you are.

Difference Between Psychologist And Psychiatrist Salary Conclusion:

While there is a noticeable difference between a psychiatrist’s and a psychologist’s salary, both professions offer rewarding experiences and the opportunity to impact individuals’ lives significantly.

We hope this post has provided you with a clearer understanding of how these two professions treat mental illness in its financial aspects. Remember, your work will be invaluable whichever path you choose in the mental health field.

We hope this post has shed some light on the differences between a psychologist’s and a psychiatrist’s salaries. If you have any questions or need further clarification, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

You may also suggest your favorite mental health software you think the Online Mental Health Reviews platform should review next. Our team would love to hear about your experience!

If your organization is considering a mental health tool, please email us to request a review. If appropriate, we will secret shop the service your organization wants to learn more about and leave a comprehensive review.

Additional Reading

For more distinctions between various mental health jobs/terms, please see our articles covering: counselor vs therapist and salary comparison, (depression), therapist vs psychologist, depression, LPC vs PsyD, clinical psychologist, counseling versus coaching, mentors vs sponsors, psychotherapy vs CBT, therapy quiz, trauma coach vs therapist, therapist vs life coaches, hospital vs psych ward, and psychologist vs social worker.

If You’re In An Emergency:

If you’re experiencing a crisis, waiting for an online therapy session may not be safe or appropriate. If there’s imminent danger to yourself or others, contact emergency services immediately by dialing 911. If you’re grappling with thoughts of self-harm, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, reachable at 988, provides round-the-clock support.

Another vital resource is the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), accessible at 800-662-HELP (4357). This helpline offers free and confidential assistance, guiding individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues towards appropriate treatment options, available 24/7, 365 days a year.

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