In this article current pharmacist salary and pharmacist workforce data are reviewed. Summaries and links to data sources are provided.
Authored By: Timothy P. Gauthier, Pharm.D., BCPS-AQ ID
[Last Updated 8-20-2017]
How much does a pharmacist make? What is the outlook for the pharmacist workforce? These are two questions that come up frequently. This article is here to help answer these questions.
There are a number of data sources for identifying how much pharmacists make and how difficult it may be to get a job as a pharmacist. Here, I review some of the existing data and provide links to the data sources. A summary of all pharmacist salary and workforce data is also provided.
SUMMARY OF ALL DATA
This section of the article cuts directly to the chase and provides key data points. Note that the validity of this summary data is dependent upon the source that has provided it. You can read more detailed information below or through the links provided to the original sources.
Salary Data Summary
- Median pharmacist salary: $122,230 per year or $58.77 per hour
- The most significant factors impacting pharmacist salary: geographic location and pharmacist type
- Highest paying region: western/central United States
- Lowest paying region: northeastern United States
- Highest paying state: California
- Lowest paying state: South Dakota
- Highest paying cities: San Francisco, CA and Watsonville, CA
- Lowest paying city: Miami, FL
- Upper-level pharmacist managers are among the highest paid
- Lower-level pharmacist academicians are among the lowest paid
Workforce Data Summary
- Number of pharmacist jobs: ~300,000
- Job outlook 2014-2024: 3%, slower than average
- Pharmacist unemployment rate: 1.7%
- Best city for pharmacists: Huntington, WV
- Pharmacist ranks as #36 among the top 100 jobs
- Number of colleges and schools of pharmacy: 142
- New pharmacist degrees conferred in 2015-16: 14,556
- Average debt for new pharmacists: $114,422
When it comes to pharmacist salaries, some of the major factors that can influence pay include:
- Geographic location
- Organization type (e.g., private versus government, large chain versus single store)
- Practice setting (e.g., community versus hospital versus industry)
- Position type (e.g., generalist versus specialist, administrative versus non-administrative)
- Years of experience and additional certifications or training
Here are some sources for pharmacist salary data and some of the key information provided by each source…
1. United States Department of Labor, Bueareau of Labor Statistics – pharmacist salary data
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a component of the U.S. Department of Labor. It’ mission is to collect, analyze, and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making. BLS is an independent statistical agency that serves a diverse user communitiy by providing products and services that are objective, timely, accurate, and relevant. The information provided by BLS is free and easy to access. It is an excellent resource.
Here are pharmacist data from BLS current to the time of this article:
- 2016 median pharmacist salary: $122,230 per year, $58.77 per hour
- The lowest 10% of pharmacists earned below $87,120 per year
- The highest 10% earned above $157,950 per year
- Median salary for department store pharmacists: $124,450 per year
- Median salary for hospital pharmacists: $122,850 per year
- Median salary for grocery store pharmacist: $122,670 per year
- Median salary for pharmacists in pharmacies and drug stores: $121,730 per year
You can access the full BLS data here.
2. Mercer / PharmacyWeek U.S. Pharmacy Compensation Survey
The U.S. Pharmacy Compensation Survey provides all the details on salary ranges, pay practices, and trends that are happening in the pharmacy industry today. It is produced by Mercer LLC / PharmacyWeek. The 2017 survey results include assessment of 53 unique pharmacy positions with 326 participating organizations pulling data from 318,945 employee observations. There is a great deal of information available and it has been analyzed by industry specialization, geographic area, and size. Datasets from this survey can be purchased for between $1,350 to $7,650 USD. Details on purchasing and data points can be found here. A list of companies participating in this survey can be found here.
Some of the data from the 2017 survey results are available free on the PharmacyWeek website. Here are some highlights from that data:
- National annualized base pay weighted mean by position:
- $148,900 – Pharmacy team manager
- $136,900 – Nuclear pharmacist
- $131,500 – Clinical pharmacist
- $131,500 – Staff pharmacist (healthcare retail/satellite)
- $129,800 – Staff pharmacist (hospital)
- $125,200 – Staff pharmacist (mail order / PBM)
- $124,400 – Staff pharmacist (retail)
- National annualized base pay weighted mean by region and position:
- Pharmacy team manager: WC > SC > SE > NC > NE
- WC = $166,700
- NE = $138,800
- Staff pharmacist (all): WC > SC > SE > NC > NE
- WC = $146,800
- NE = $121,700
- Pharmacy team manager: WC > SC > SE > NC > NE
- State-level annualized base pay weighted mean – top 5 states for combined pharmacist positions
- California – $151,800
- Arkansas – $136,600
- Nevada – $134,400
- Vermont – $131,100
- Kentucky – $131,00
- State-level annualized base pay weighted mean – bottom 5 states for combined pharmacist positions
- Puerto Rico – $99,900
- South Dakota – $114,500
- Iowa – $115,200
- Nebraska – $115,700
- Oklahoma – $116,400
The free data form PharmacyWeek is here.
Abbreviations: NE = north-east, NC = north-central, SC = south-central, SE = south-east, WC = west-central; PBM = prescription benefits manager.
3. Payscale’s pharmacist salary survey data
The people at Payscale utilize crowdsourcing and big data technologies to compile salary profiles for various job types. For the pharmacist salary information presented they report the source of their information is their own salary questionnaire. The survey design is not provided in detail, however they do identify data to be from United States pharmacists, currency is presented in USD, and 3,202 individuals participated in the survey. Given there are ~300,000 pharmacists in the United States per BLS, the Payscale survey only represents about 1% of all pharmacists. In turn, the data should be interpreted with a degree of caution.
Using the information they have from their survey Payscale has composed a detailed resource that includes a neat search function which allows the user to search by city, experience, skill, employer, and job. Here are some of the highlights from the data presented on this site, which is listed as last updated July 25th, 2017:
- Median pharmacist salary: $110,727 (approx. range $83,000 – $136,000)
- Bonuses and profit sharing can increase annual income
- Geography is the most influential factor of pay rate
- Highest pay: San Fransisco, CA – 5% above national average
- Lowest pay: Miami, FL – 8% below national average
- Pay increases as experience level increases
You can access the Payscale data here.
4. Drug Topics list of 25 cities with the highest paid pharmacist salaries
Drug Topics is a newsmagazine that reports on all facets of the profession of pharmacy. This publication took data from ValuePenguin (discussed below), but the original source of the data used was the BLS in 2014. Drug Topics provides a list of the top 25 cities with the highest paid pharmacist salaries. Here are the top ten:
- $164,850: Watsonville, CA
- $155,940: Gadsden, AL
- $143,980: Fresno, CA
- $142, 380: Chico, CA
- $140,830: Anniston – Oxford, AL
- $140,110: Goleta, CA
- $140, 020: Modesto, CA
- $139,810: Harlingen, TX
- $139,500: Dalton, GA
- $139,330: Santa Clara, CA
You can access the other 15 on the list from Drug Topics here.
5. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s pharmacy faculty salary data
The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) website provides data on pharmacy faculty demographics and salaries. The 2016-17 average full-time pharmacy faculty annual salaries are provided as follows:
- Instructor: $85,800
- Standard deviation: $24,974
- Lecturer: $100,500
- Standard deviation: $32,861
- Assistant professor: $106,900
- Standard deviation: $16,311
- Associate professor: $121,100
- Standard deviation: $18,618
- Full professor: $166,600
- Standard deviation: $43,399
- Assistant dean: $133,600
- Standard deviation: $25,792
- Associate dean: $174,700
- Standard deviation: $37,789
- Dean: $260,300
- Standard deviation: $62,768
- Provost: $295,900
- Standard deviation: $70,842
You can access this AACP data here. Membership with AACP is necessary to access the full information or it can be purchased individually.
The pharmacist workforce is always changing. With an explosion in the number of pharmacy schools and existing pharmacy schools increasing enrollment in recent years, many pharmacists wonder what the future job market will look like. Here are several data sources and highlights on the current pharmacist workforce to help get an idea what the future may hold.
1. United States Department of Labor, Bueareau of Labor Statistics: pharmacist workforce data
As stated above, the information provided by BLS is free and easy to access. Here are pharmacist data from BLS current to the time of this article was composed:
- Number of U.S. pharmacist jobs in 2014: 297,100
- Job outlook 2014-2014: 3% (slower than average)
- Employment change 2014-2024: 9,100
- 1 in 5 pharmacists work part-time
You can access the full BLS data here.
2. ValuePenguin top 100 cities for pharmacists in the United States
ValuePenguin seeks to identify the very best cities for pharmacists to work in, considering four categories that all pharmacists care about: (1) number of jobs, (2) the demand for their services, (3) their annual average salary and (4) the cost of living. It seems these folks used data from BLS and some type of ranking system to identify the 100 top cities for pharmacists in the United States. Average paycheck was the chief factor in their scoring system, but they also took into account cost of living and location quotient.
You may wonder what a location quotient is. This measures the concentration of pharmacists in an area as a percentage of all occupations, then compares it to the national average. In general the higher the location quotient, the higher the demand for the service.
They report using May 2014 data from 396 cities from over 290,000 pharmacists, which seems all derived from BLS. This report overlaps workforce and salary data, but it was placed in the workforce section because the data more closely aligns with workforce considerations. Here are the data on the top 10 cities identified:
|Rank||City||Average Salary||Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living||Score|
|9||La Crosse, WI||$127,190||240||1.53||94||137|
You can access the ValuePenguin data here.
3. U.S. News & World Report’s pharmacist description webpage
U.S. News & World Report is a multi-platform publisher of news and information. They have a webpage that presents data about pharmacists. They also produce lists that rank pharmacists among other professions.
Information on workforce and salary is provided, but since the salary data is limited and does not add to what is mentioned above, only workforce-related information is presented here. It seems data is current to 2017, but it is unclear when the page was last updated. Data sources are not identified. Here are some highlights from this resource.
- Overall job score = 6.5/10
- #20 on a list of “2017 Best Paying Jobs”
- #23 on list of “2017 Best Healthcare Jobs”
- #36 on list of “2017 The 100 Best Jobs”
- Unemployment rate = 1.7%
- Number of jobs = 9,100
- Job market score = 4/10
- Future growth score = 4/10
- Stress score = 4/10
- Work-life balance score = 4/10
- Job satisfaction, upward mobility = Above Average
- Job satisfaction, flexibility = Below Average
- Job satisfaction, stress level = Above Average
The U.S. News & World Report pharmacist webpage is here.
4. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: workforce data
AACP provides data on pharmacy schools enrollment, attrition, degrees conferred, and more. Here are some of the highlights from the available data.
- 142 colleges and schools of pharmacy will will offer a doctor of pharmacy degree in fall 2017
- Eight colleges and schools of pharmacy will offer a doctor of pharmacy degree as a post-bachelor’s of science degree in fall 2017
- There were less than 100 colleges and schools of pharmacy in 2005
- Attrition estimates from colleges and schools of pharmacy average 11% per class
- In 2015-16 there were 14,556 first professional degrees in pharmacy awarded
- There were also 326 post-bachelor’s of science doctorate of pharmacy degrees awarded
You can access this AACP data here.
5. Study by Dr. Jeff Cain and colleagues: Pharmacy student debt and return on investment of a pharmacy education
This work was published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (AJPE) in 2014. AJPE is the official publication of AACP and is a respected pharmacy journal.
The researchers had the objective of describing the current landscape within the pharmacy profession in regards to student tuition, indebtedness, salaries and job potential. Here are some of the highlights from their results:
- Average pharmacy school tuition increased 54% from 2004-2012
- The number of pharmacist jobs rose from 215,000 in 2003 to 275,000 in 2010
- In 2011 the average pharmacy student graduated with $114,422 in debt
The article can be found here.
If you have read through the information provided and want to learn about how much pharmacy school costs, tuition information can be found on individual school websites and historical data can be found here from AACP.
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