How much do Forensic Physicians earn? Is it the same for Psychiatrists and Psychologists?

No definitive data exists but there are resources to guide your decision.

Click to Read a Deeper Dive

Bureau of Labor Statistics (notoriously low as they do not identify Forensic Psychiatry as a dedicated type of work.)

A few private surveys conducted by private directories of expert witnesses. There is the potential for self-dealing and I take exception to the numbers which are national averages and do not adequately break out forensic medical specialties adequately.

The samples are small. They include all expert practices, not just forensic medicine (med-legal, not just pathology!).Annual income reported is not identified as full time or part time, despite the fact that most medicolegal experts have a practice split between clinical and forensic hours and income.

I believe forensic psychiatrists do not make as much income as they could, by which I mean billable hours, not fee. None of these sources are consistent with my experience speaking with many doctors.

One private survey, for example, identifies the average Forensic Psychiatrist Hourly fee as $451, and does not identify if that is in Idaho or New York. Expertise, experience, training and skill are not tied to the report. Each doctor is unique and fees reflect that. Neverthless, $450/hour, in my experience is the fee of a starting doctor in months post-fellowship in a major city. I am not a fan of these surveys.

That said, limitations include geography, competition, willingness to travel, an area of expertise which is in high demand vs. low demand. Among forensic psychiatrists and psychologists, I have seen billable rates span $300/hour (psychologists and starting psychiatrists in low population areas) to $1,200/hour (testimony rates are the high end).

Two questions impact income:

  • what is your billable rate?
  • How many hours do you want to work in forensic practice?

The answers determine how much money you can make.

Your billable rate should be similar to that of your equally qualified peers. As you come across other experts in your field who provide their billing rate–for example, in a deposition you are reading, you might take a note. This is another good reason to join professional organizations for forensic experts in your field.

I recommend you don’t intentionally try to undersell your competition. Your services are not available on Groupon.

Further, your rate reflects your experience.Undervalue yourself, because you want more work, and it will be easier for others to assume it is the correct reflection of your experience even if it is not.