The Average Salary of a Pharmacist

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The Average Salary of a Pharmacist

The average salary of a pharmacist is $121,500 per year.

If you’ve been to the pharmacy lately, you may have found yourself wondering how much pharmacists make. Being a pharmacist, at least at the retail level, involves a lot of standing, long shifts and dealing with customers, which might not be for everyone. On the plus side, salaries in the field are high. Let’s take a look at the average salary of a pharmacist and where pharmacists earn the most. 

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The Average Salary of a Pharmacist: The Basics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary of a pharmacist was $121,500 per year, $58.41 per hour in 2015. The highest-paid 10% of pharmacists earn a mean annual wage of $154,040. The lowest-paid 10% of pharmacists make an average of $86,790. So, no matter where you end up on the pharmacist income scale your annual wage is likely to be much higher than the annual income of the average American.

Before you get too excited about the high pay that pharmacists earn, it’s worth noting the the field is not growing at a very high rate. The BLS also provides a job outlook for the professions it studies. The job outlook shows the percent by which a field will grow (or shrink) between 2014 and 2024. The job outlook for pharmacists is just 3%, which is lower than the 7% average across all fields. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS projects the field will add only 9,100 jobs.

Related Article: The Average Salary of a Doctor


Where Pharmacists Make the Most

The BLS also looks at state and metro-area data on the jobs the Bureau studies. So where does it pay the most to be a pharmacist? The top-paying state for pharmacists is Alaska, with a mean annual wage for pharmacists of $138,910. Other high-paying states are California ($135,750), New Hampshire ($128,490), Maine ($125,340) and Vermont ($123,650).

The top-paying metro area for pharmacists is Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA, with an annual mean wage of $171,090. Other high-paying metro areas are Victoria, TX ($157,000); Laredo, TX ($148,320); Merced, CA ($144,240) and Redding, CA ($143,770).

The Cost of Becoming a Pharmacist

Becoming a pharmacist requires years of study and, for most people, taking on student debt. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
Graduating Student Survey, 87.5% of pharmacists-in-training borrowed money to complete their Pharm.D. degree program. Of the survey respondents who borrowed money, the median amount borrowed (across public and private institutions) was $150,000.

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Bottom Line

If you peruse online message boards, you’ll notice that not all pharmacists are content with their jobs. Many pharmacists work in retail pharmacies, so share some of the frustrations of other retail and service workers. Some pharmacists dislike dealing with the corporate structure that goes with working for a large employer like Walgreens or CVS. However, many pharmacists are happy with the high pay and job security they enjoy, and appreciate the intellectual and public-service aspects of working as a pharmacist. If you’re thinking of becoming a pharmacist, it’s a good idea to talk to some professionals in the field before you commit to an expensive course of study.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/skynesher, ©iStock.com/gradyreese, ©iStock.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd   

Amelia Josephson
Amelia Josephson is a staff writer covering financial literacy topics at SmartAsset. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.

The Average Salary of a Pharmacist

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