Know how much pharmacists make? Think Again.

Pharmacy gets a good reputation for being a stable job, well respected, and good income (and 10 other reasons why pharmacists have great jobs).

A lot of people argue against those reasons (some have valid points).


What I want to share with you now are the reports that are out there concerning the pharmacist salary. I pulled from various resources to give you an honest and unbiased view of our wages.
If you’d like you can see my own income and budget report by signing up below.


Pharmacy School HQ Salary Summary Report


Full-Time Pharmacists in the U.S.A. make anywhere from $90,000 to $140,000 per year.


Let’s dive into our resources for this article.


American Journal of Pharmacy Education

According to an article in the American Journal of Pharmacy Education, the average salary has risen since 2002 from $75,000 to $112,000 in 2014.

They also performed some great research on debt and salary increase over the last 15 years. They found the “average indebtedness for pharmacy students ($114,422)”. Unfortunately, that only tells us the average. If you’ve taken statistics yet, you know by know that number can be manipulated.

Average Salary: $112,000

Average Debt : $114,422

(my debt from pharmacy school : click below to find out)

The article makes a big to do about how the debt load has increased over the pharmacist’s average first year salary ($112,160).

Here’s the average salary over the last 15 years. Do you see the dipping point at the end? I believe this is a marker that the pharmacist wage is becoming stagnant. Does it mean that pharmacist salary is decreasing?


It may mean that pharmacist salaries are not increases for new grads. I’ve heard multiple “stories” confirming this theory. However, no solid evidence exists to confirm that pharmacists are seeing scary salary decreases.

Let’s move on to another source.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 5.31.50 AM





They found the average debt accrued was $133,694 ($152,901 for private institutions)

The average salary has risen since 2002 from $75,000 to $112,000.


U.S. News

The U.S. News creates yearly updates on the pharmacy job market and salary reports.

Important 2013 findings:

Average Salary: $119,280Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 5.42.49 AM

“The best-paid 10 percent made $147,350, while the lowest-paid made $89,000.”

Okay, this is similar results from our “scientific” article above. The number may be biased and bloated, in my opinion, because this website is an advertiser, not an “unbiased” author like that above. Also, no sources are listed for their salary report. While I appreciate the graph, I’m not convinced the average is this elevated.

Also, do you see the leveling off of the graph to the right? Another indicator of the average pharmacist salary leveling off. Does this mean our salaries will decrease. Unlikely. But it may mean that new grads will be offered less money for starting positions. Let’s move on to our next source.


Pharmacy Week 2014 Compensation Survey

Our next resource is from a friend of mine Kevin Mero from Pharmacy Week. I like this resource because it is frequently updated (every 6 months) and provides a vast array of information on pharmacists in different fields. I will use the report from 2014 for this post.

Important info:

Position Title(s)

$ Hourly Base Pay Wgtd Mean

$ Annualized Base Pay Wgtd Mean*

Pharmacy Team Mgr 67.29 140.0
Staff Pharmacist – Retail 58.81 122.3
Staff Pharmacist – Hospital 60.12 125.0
Staff Pharmacist – Healthcare Retail/Satellite 57.52 119.7
Staff Pharmacist – Mail-order/PBM 56.69 117.9
Clinical Pharmacist 61.28 127.5
Nuclear Pharmacist 58.02 120.7
Staff Pharmacist – Retail, Staff Pharmacist – Hospital, Staff Pharmacist – Healthcare Retail/Satellite, Staff Pharmacist – Mail-order/PBM, Clinical Pharmacist, Nuclear Pharmacist 59.83 124.4

*I removed some of the information (like how many organizations surveyed) to make the data easy to consume.

A few caveats to understand with this survey. This information (as far as I can tell) is from organizations, NOT individual pharmacists.

Another fact : 256 Organizations Surveyed (335,688 “observations represented”). Certain organizations may be providing the bulk of the information, while other smaller companies may be underrepresented.

You can check more of the survey out (most helpful resource IMO) by clicking here.


Bureau of Labor Statistics

Difficult to say if the BLS is biased here 😉

Important info:

2012 Median Pay : $116,670 per year

$56.09 per hour

Lowest 10% earned less than $89,280

Top 10% earned more than $145,910

Other general merchandise stores $128,910
Department stores $120,540
Pharmacies and drug stores $117,850
Grocery stores $116,000
Hospitals; state, local, and private $114,100

Somewhat similar results compared to Pharmacy Week’s Survey.

Interesting tidbit :
Number of jobs available in 2012 was 286,400. They predict from 2012 to 2022, the job market will increase by 14% (apparently average in comparison to other industries) and the number of jobs will increase by 41,400.

Also interesting to note that the number of PharmDs graduating yearly (in the last 4-5 years) has been around 12,000-14,000.

I would love to find accurate information about the number of pharmacists retiring or leaving the profession yearly, because I wonder about our profession’s potential saturation.

Drug Topics 2015 Survey

They polled 1,987 pharmacists (small sample size in comparison to other resources above) and found…

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.18.23 AMrelatively the same info as the others… but these numbers are somewhat higher than previous reports.

You could argue that these numbers are slightly higher than reality because the numbers are from pharmacists. One may speculate they increase their reported salary to stroke their ego… Not a farfetched thought, but I assume that these reports are mildly accurate.


American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

Academics, in general, make the least amount starting salary. However, there are better opportunities for pay increases in academia with promotions (unlike retail and hospital). stats the assistant professor starts around $103,100. Which, I feel is higher than truth. I base this on reports from my colleagues who entered in academia (so yes, I’m biased).


What about after taxes?

The six-figure income is pretty to look at. It even feels good to say. Six-figures…

But that isn’t reality.

Uncle Sam takes a significant portion away from your pockets.

You can expect anywhere from $75,000 to $80,000 if your base salary is $115,000. Essentially, you receive around 2/3 of your earned income.


But does the money really matter?

Money won’t buy happiness.

If you don’t believe me check out some of the “unhappy” pharmacist blogs on the webz. They all are easily making well over $100,000 a year but sound very unhappy.

In fact, I found one interesting study that says once a person’s salary increases over the poverty level, the level of happiness doesn’t necessarily increase significantly after.


This is why you should pursue pharmacy ONLY IF you believe that you’ll love it.

Pharmacy isn’t for everyone.

In fact, there are thousands of pharmacists who hate their jobs. Check out the doom and gloom on these forums.

If you are considering pharmacy as your profession, be sure to validate that you will love pharmacy. Picture yourself doing a pharmacist job for the rest of your life.


Bottom Line:

New grads can expect anywhere from $110,000 to $116,000 starting FULL TIME.

I capitalize full time because of recent stories I’m hearing. New grads are being tricked by corporations (not all-inclusive). One pharmacist told me she was told “full-time”, but only allotted 32 hours/week. Thus, she doesn’t make a full time salary and lacks benefits.

Be aware of the position offered and what income you agree to when you take your first job.

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