Forensic Psychiatrist Salary Guide: Career Insights and more

Forensic psychiatrists play a significant role in the criminal justice system. Their main role is to assess the mental health of those involved with legal cases and provide clinical care. Forensic psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry that combines the fields of psychiatry and law. Due to the unique nature of this work, you can expect to receive a fair salary compared to those who deal with these fields individually. However, a forensic psychiatrists salary depends on various factors.

This article will look at the potential earnings of forensic psychiatrists. You will also learn some factors that can impact your income and how to increase your salary and build your wealth.

Average Forensic Psychiatrist Salary says a forensic psychiatrist can earn between $194,268 and $242,502, with a median of $216,794 in 2023.

According to ZipRecruiter, you can get an average forensic psychiatrist salary of $306,737 per year, with an hourly rate of about $147.47. At the 25th percentile, the salary is $227,500 and $400,000 at the 90th percentile, the lowest being $172,000.

Comparably, it lists an incredibly low salary compared with other sources. According to Comparably, the annual average salary for a forensic psychiatrist is $75,314, with the lowest receiving $14,364 and the highest $384,605 at the 86th percentile.

Glassdoor lists the total forensic psychiatrist salary as $222,138 per year, with a total pay range of $169,000 – $294,000. The average salary is $200 229, plus additional pay of about $21,909 per year.

Payscale says the average forensic psychiatrist salary in 2023 is $215,000 annually. According to this source, forensic psychiatrists can earn $178,000 at the 25th percentile while the 75th percentile is $246,000.

According to Indeed, the annual average salary for a psychiatrist in 2023 is $268,742, the lowest being $178,174 and the highest $405,347. While this amount gives you an overview of the general psychiatrist field, it falls in the salary range for forensic psychiatrists from other sources.

Make the most of your salary by carefully planning your finances.

Factors that Affect Forensic Psychiatrist Salary

Various factors can affect a forensic psychiatrist salary, and it’is essential to consider them. These factors include:

Level of Education and Years of Experience

Generally, to become a forensic psychiatrist, you must have a bachelor’s degree; most start with forensic science and next complete a medical degree, which takes four years. After medical school, you will complete a four-year psychiatry residency and a forensic psychiatry fellowship.

After the fellowship, you can apply for board certification, boosting your chances of getting a job and better pay. As you advance in your education, your salary continues to increase.

For example, residents’ salaries increase yearly, meaning first-year residents earn the lowest. According to, a psychiatry resident earns, on average, $55,940 annually, which is an excellent way to start your career. Each year you gain experience even after completing your education comes with an opportunity for a salary increase.


A forensic psychiatrist salary is highly affected by the geographic location. The cost of living and demand for forensic psychiatry services vary depending on the city or region. For example, urban regions are likely to have a higher cost of living, meaning higher salaries to compensate for the increased expenses. CNBC says the top expensive states to live in are Hawaii, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York.

According to ZipRecruiter, the following 10 cities have the highest forensic psychiatric salaries, which is above their national average of $306,737:

  • Federal Way, WA: $369,979
  • Santa Clara, CA: $363,443
  • San Francisco, CA: $362,430
  • Washington, DC: $354,131
  • Los Angeles, CA: $354,131
  • San Jose, CA: $353,275
  • Fremont, CA: $351,008
  • Oakland, CA: $348,749
  • Marysville, WA: $347,223
  • Jersey City, NJ: $345,325

It’s good to note this information may vary depending on the source. However, some of these cities will pop up in most sources, making it a good guide if you want to relocate.

Specific Industry or Setting

As forensic psychiatry, you can be employed by government agencies, such as correctional facilities or court systems. You can also work in private practice or for consulting firms. Working for private practice can pay you more than working for government agencies.

Those with dual practice can earn more than those focussing on a single sector, leveraging the benefits of government employment and private practice.

Each work setting comes with a different salary structure and a potential for additional compensation.

Gender Wage Gap

As in many professions, the gender pay gap is also evident in forensic psychiatry. Statistics show that male physicians earned 26% more than female physicians in 2022. However, there are a few ways you can counteract the gender wage gap and receive a better salary, like fellow male physicians.


As a forensic psychiatrist, you can specialize in different subspecialties, enhancing your earning potential. These subspecialties include child forensic psychiatry, correctional psychiatry, forensic geropsychiatric, forensic neuropsychiatry, and forensic psychiatric research.

Each subspecialty in forensic psychiatry comes with unique challenges and rewards, so you will find that each salary differs.

While your exact salary will depend on the factors mentioned above, your negotiation skills can also make a huge difference.

Interested in reading about more salaries? Get a free copy of the Physicians Thrive 2023 Physician Compensation Report.

Student Loan Debt Management for Forensic Psychiatrists

Like many physicians, forensic psychiatrists accumulate large student loans to complete their education and training. Naturally, you’ll start repaying your loan once you graduate and start your residency.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) says that for medical students to finance their education, they need an average debt of $200,000. This amount can be overwhelming, especially when starting your career. The good news is that there are better strategies and options to help you manage your student loan so you can alleviate the burden of debt. These strategies will ensure you focus on your career without undue financial stress.

Loan Forgiveness Program

After meeting a given criteria, the loan forgiveness program forgives a portion or all of your medical school loan debt. These programs are given through the local, state, and federal governments and even private organizations.

As a forensic psychiatrist, you may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or the National Health Service Corps(NHSC) Loan Repayment Program, among other programs. These programs are for those working in public or nonprofit organizations and underserved areas.


Refinancing allows you to obtain a new loan with better terms and use it to pay off your existing loans. This means that you can take a new loan and use it to pay your student loan debt. Refinancing allows you to consolidate your loans, leaving you with one lender. One advantage of refinancing is reducing your interest rates and monthly payments, saving you money in the long run and reducing your financial burden.

For example, the Federal medical student loan interest rate is 6.54%-7.54% fixed, with a repayment period of 10 years. If you refinance this loan, you can lower your interest rates by reducing the repayment period or your monthly payments by increasing the repayment period.

It’s good to note that if you refinance your federal student loan, you will lose government protection, such as student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment and deferment options. However, private lenders offer some alternatives to the protections you lose after refinancing.

We offer special refinancing discounts if you want to refinance your medical student loan.


One popular option for repayment of student loans is the income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. These plans calculate your monthly payments depending on your income and family size. IDR makes the monthly payment amounts more manageable, especially if your student loan is higher relative to your income.

The IDR plans have several options that you can choose from, including the new SAVE plan. Other strategies in this plan are:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income-contingent repayment (ICR)

Read More: The Full Breakdown to Medical School Student Loans

How to Increase Your Salary as a Forensic Psychiatrist

As a forensic psychiatrist, you may want to increase your salary to match your experience and expertise. Here are a few strategies you can employ to achieve your goal:

Start Your Practice

As mentioned earlier, private practice can earn a higher salary than government agencies. However, starting a private practice is not as easy as it sounds. You’ll have to endure business challenges, such as funding, lack of clients, long working hours, etc. You don’t have to do this alone; our private practice advisors can always offer guidance and assistance.

Invest in Real Estate

Consider investing in real estate for office space instead of renting. If you select a building in the right location with a high demand for forensic psychiatry services, you’ll have a steady stream of potential clients.

You may also want to explore a building that will not only provide you with your office space but also one you can rent out to those in fields related to forensic psychiatry. Doing so allows you to increase your forensic psychiatrist salary from two different angles.

Hire Assistants

Having assistants can help you delegate less intense tasks, allowing you to focus on providing high-quality services. Ultimately, you will increase your efficiency, productivity, and the number of clients you serve, which means more earnings.

Offer Specialized Services

As a forensic psychiatrist, there are a plethora of options you can specialize in. For example, you can deal with child forensic psychiatry, which can be pretty lucrative once your pipeline gets a good flow.

When you specialize, you can position yourself as an expert in that particular niche, making you command higher fees.

Consider Relocating

We have seen that your location can affect your salary as a forensic psychiatrist. Consider relocating to areas with a high demand, which can also mean a salary increase. Alternatively, moving to cities with a shortage of forensic psychiatrists can create an opportunity for you to negotiate higher rates.

Some employers offer a relocation bonus if you’re employed, and it’s good to check whether yours offers one.

Read this: How Moving Can Help Physicians Pay Off Student Loans

How to Build a Retirement From an Annual Salary

No matter your salary level, saving money for your future is never easy. Building a retirement plan from your annual salary is crucial to your consideration, attention, and proper planning as a forensic psychologist. You’ll need to:

Assess Your Current Financial Status

Understanding your financial situation is an essential step towards achieving your saving goals. Calculating your annual income and expenses gives you a clear understanding of your financial standing.

Next, know how much you want to save for your retirement. According to financial experts, you should save 10-15% of your annual gross salary; the perfect age to start is in your 20s. The 50/30/20 rule helps determine what to save.

Consider Retirement Accounts

Consider Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), both traditional and Roth, as they offer additional avenues for retirement savings. These accounts offer tax advantages and flexibility in managing your retirement funds. Ensure you contribute consistently and increase your contributions now and then.

Other types of retirement plans that are not employment-specific are payroll deduction IRAs and guaranteed income annuities.

Take Advantage of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

In addition to IRAs, you may have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. Here, your employer pays your salary pre-tax toward your retirement plan. Some employers offer matching contributions, which significantly boost your retirement savings. Types of employer-offered retirement plans:

  • 401(k) plans
  • Pooled Employer Plans
  • SIMPLE IRA plans
  • SEP plans
  • 403(b) plans
  • Cash-balance plans
  • Profit-sharing plans (PSPs)

Want More Info? Financial Planning for Doctors

How to Manage Forensic Psychiatrist Salary and Build Wealth

Knowing how to manage your forensic psychiatrist salary is a step closer to building wealth. The four key areas you’ll need to focus on are:

  • Retirement planning: As seen above, retirement planning determines your golden year’s worth. By understanding your financial goals and contributing to retirement accounts, reviewing and adjusting your retirement plan ensures you’re on the right track toward building wealth.
  • Tax planning: As a high-earning professional, you’ll need a robust tax plan to shape your financial plans. How you manage your taxes today will significantly impact your future wealth. You can only achieve this by optimizing your tax strategy, reducing tax liability, and ensuring compliance with tax laws. Our tax professionals can guide you through your tax planning to ensure you’re on the right path to achieving your wealth. You can also check our beginner’s guide to physician tax planning for more valuable insights.
  • Work with a financial planner: Opt to work with a financial planner to guide you on investments. Our financial planners understand your unique challenges and opportunities as a physician. They can also help you develop investment strategies to meet your financial goals, ensuring your wealth grows.
  • Protect your income with disability insurance: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 6 people experience a significant disability. A disability insurance policy is a long-term financial security that provides a safety net in case you cannot work due to illness or injury. It ensures you can maintain your lifestyle and meet other financial obligations.

How and Why to Negotiate Salary

We had mentioned earlier that your negotiation skills could boost your forensic psychiatrist salary, making it an essential part of the recruitment process. Negotiating salaries is not always easy, no matter the occupation, but it is a part of the recruitment process.

To negotiate your salary, know the value you bring to the table by understanding your skills, experience, and level of education. By familiarizing yourself with the average salary range for forensic psychiatry and gathering information on current market trends and demand, you have good leverage during negotiations.

Negotiating your foreign psychiatris salary ensures you get fair and competitive compensation. It also shows you understand your value. You can seek expert assistance with your contract and negotiation to ensure a fair deal. Reach out to us for a contract review.

Keep Reading: What Doctors Can Expect During Physician Salary Negotiation

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, many aspects go into determining the exact forensic psychiatrist salary, including factors such as location, subspecialties, and demand. In addition, proper loan management, exploring ways to increase your salary, planning for retirement, and building wealth are all crucial aspects in securing your financial future as a forensic psychiatrist.

Don’t forget to protect your salary with disability insurance and not rely only on your employer’s group policy but pay for individual disability policy.

The main difference between group and individual disability policies is that group policies are underwritten based on the health assumptions of a group of people. On the other hand, individual disability policies are underwritten based on the person buying the insurance.

With individual policies, you can enjoy the portability of the policy, nontaxable policy, customization to meet personal needs, and additional riders, among other benefits.

Contact us at Physicians Thrive for any inquiries on forensic psychiatrist salaries or other information about physicians’ finances, insurance, tax, etc.

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