Once again, it’s time for my updated Pharmacy Salary Guide.
Before we dive into 2017, let’s look at the pharmacy salary information from 2016. In 2016, full-time pharmacists made anywhere from $84,000 to $134,000 per year, with the average annual salary coming in around $108,000, depending on the data source consulted. Both the high and low end of the salary range decreased by about $6,000 when compared to 2015.
Staff pharmacists at retail and mail order pharmacies were the lowest paid in 2016, earning an average wage of $58.35 and $56.83 per hour, respectively. Aside from team managers, nuclear pharmacists were the highest paid, earning an average wage of $66.31 per hour. Nearly 42 percent of pharmacists reported earning between $61 and $70 per hour in 2016.
For our 2017 Pharmacist Salary Guide, we consulted a number of sources to try to give you a well-rounded picture of pharmacy salaries in the U.S., including Payscale.com, Drug Channels, Drug Topics, PharmacyWeek, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. News & World Report and The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The good news is that, no matter which source we consulted, a pharmacist is still considered to be a respected, stable job that provides above-average income.
According to the results of a PayScale.com survey, pharmacists’ annual salaries were between $83,000 and $135,000. The median annual salary is $110,000, with higher-paying jobs typically offering potential bonuses and profit-sharing amounting to an additional $10,000 per year.
Just as in 2016, the factors that influence a pharmacist’s salary in 2017 include (in order of most influence):
- Area of residence
- Specific employer
- Experience level
According to PayScale.com, experience does not seem to play a large role in salary calculations:
- Average earnings with 0-5 years of experience: $109,000
- Average earnings with 5-10 years of experience: $117,000
- Average earnings with 10-20 years of experience: $120,000
- Average earnings with 20+ years of experience: $121,000
Although there is a significant increase in average annual earnings after the first five years on the job, average annual income tapers off as pharmacists become more experienced. And, the average salary in each of these experience ranges increased by $1,000 to $2,000 when compared to 2016.
Each year, PharmacyWeek teams with Mercer to conduct a national compensation survey of pharmacists. In 2016, pharmacists reported earning an average hourly wage of $61.67, representing an increase of 79 cents when compared to the average reported hourly wage in 2015. However, the pay rate varies depending on a pharmacist’s job title, setting and specialty area.
Here is the breakdown of average hourly pay for different job titles in the pharmacy industry, as reflected in PharmacyWeek’s 2016 survey:
|Job Title||Hourly Pay Rate||+/- From 2015|
|Staff pharmacist – mail order||$58.57||$1.74|
|Staff pharmacist – satellite||$61.06||$0.49|
|Staff pharmacist – retail||$60.18||$1.83|
|Staff pharmacist – hospital||$61.98||$1.23|
According to this survey, hourly wages increased for all types of pharmacists. Retail pharmacists saw the highest wage increase, at $1.83 per hour.
Pharmacists on the West Coast of the U.S. earn the most, making an average of $68.97 per hour, or $143,500 per year. Pharmacists in the Northeastern U.S. earn the least, at $57.28 per hour, or $119,100 per year.
In California, pharmacists earn the highest wage in the United States, pulling in an average of $71.17 per hour, or $148,000 per year. Pharmacists in Puerto Rico are the lowest paid, earning an average of $51.19 per hour, or $106,500 per year. Here is a breakdown of pharmacists’ average annual and hourly salaries by state:
|State||Average Annual Salary||Average Hourly Salary|
|North Dakota||Data not available||Data not available|
Hospital/healthcare system pharmacists are the highest paid, at an average of $129,100 per year, or $62.07 per hour. Supermarket pharmacists make an average of $126,200 per year ($60.66 per hour); mass merchandiser pharmacists make an average of $121,700 per year ($58.49 per hour); and chain drug store pharmacists earn an average of $126,600 per year ($60.84 per hour). Mail-order pharmacists are the lowest paid, at an average of $120,500 per year, or $57.94 per hour.
Drug Channels, which bases their statistics on the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics from 2015, reported the average gross salary for retail, mail and specialty pharmacists as $119,517, representing an extremely modest increase from the 2014 average salary of $119,400. Here is a chart showing total U.S. employment and average salary by dispensing format:
|Dispensing Format||Total Employment||Average Annual Salary|
|Chain and independent drugstores||128,030||$119,600|
|Mass merchant pharmacies||26,790||$122,860|
When compared to 2014, the number of pharmacists employed at mail order pharmacies increased by 21.7 percent despite a slight decrease in the average annual salary. Although the salaries of pharmacists employed by mass merchants remained the highest, employment in that sector fell by 8.5 percent.
The 2017 Drug Topics survey, which was conducted in 2016, found that the 3,085 surveyed pharmacists are mostly satisfied with their jobs, but are experiencing an increase in job-related stress.
In 2016, 45.4 percent of pharmacists reported earning between $120,000 and $140,000. Just as in 2015, most pharmacists (41.7 percent) earn between $61 and $70 per hour. This chart shows a breakdown of pharmacists’ hourly wages in 2016:
|Hourly Wage||Percentage of Respondents|
|$40 or less||3.3|
|$71 or more||6.0|
Approximately 86 percent of respondents reported working full time, 9.9 percent reported working part-time and 1.9 percent reported being unemployed. Pharmacists also reported that, although raises are modest, salaries are growing:
- Percentage of pharmacists who received at least one raise in 2016: 62.5
- Percentage of pharmacists who expect to receive a raise in 2017: 66.9
This chart shows a breakdown of pharmacist annual raises by percentage in 2016:
|Amount of Raise By Percentage||Percentage of Respondents|
More than 25 percent of pharmacists earn between $120,001 and $130,000. This chart shows: Breakdown of pharmacists’ annual salaries in 2016
|Pharmacist Annual Earnings||Percentage of Respondents|
|$70,000 or less||1.6|
|$150,000 or more||11.2|
A majority of pharmacists (57.7 percent) reported working between 40 and 44 hours per week, and 29.6 percent reported working 39 hours or fewer per week. Only 6.2 percent of pharmacists reported that they saw a decrease in their stress level at work; 63.4 percent said that they saw an increase.
Approximately 67 percent of pharmacists said they are not considering a job change within the next 12 months. However, of the 32.9 percent who are considering a job change, 67.4 percent said they are dissatisfied with their current job.
In its 2015 report, the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there are 295,620 pharmacy jobs in the United States, down slightly from 297,100 in 2014. BLS reports that the median pay for pharmacists is $119,270 per year, or $57.34 per hour—also down from 2014’s average salary of $120,950 per year and $58.15 per hour.
In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, U.S. News & World Report ranked “Pharmacist” as No. 20 on its list of best-paying jobs, down from No. 18 in 2014. The publication reported that the median salary was $121,500 per year, or $58.41 per hour.
- The best-paid 10 percent of pharmacists earned $154,040
- The lowest-paid 10 percent of pharmacists earned $86,790
According to the publication, the best-paid pharmacists are employed by scientific research and development companies and work in the metropolitan areas of Santa Cruz, CA; Victoria, Texas; and Laredo, Texas.
The average salary for full-time pharmacy professors in 2016-17 was $166,600.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably figured out that pharmacy salary data varies depending on which source you consult. But, it is safe to say that pharmacists across the United States have seen modest increases in their salaries this year with fairly flat employment rates—except for large employment increases in mail order pharmacy sector.
Not much has changed when it comes to salary variations by location. Pharmacists in California are still the top-earning in the country due to the higher cost of living. Nuclear pharmacists remain the highest paid and hospital/healthcare systems remain the highest-paying job setting.
Whether you are considering relocating for a new job or are looking for fodder to negotiate a raise, I hope that this information proves to be useful to you.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.