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It appears that 2018 brought some much-needed good news to pharmacists.
Salary.com reports that as of October 31, 2018, the average pharmacist salary in the U.S. was $129,718, with a range between $121,998 and $138,520.
That figure represents a 4.5% increase from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2017 salary of $124,170 annually.
More good news! You can download this report and receive an infographic summarizing key points here:
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Unfortunately, the news isn’t all great. The BLS also reported that the expected growth rate for jobs in pharmacy is 6%, just under the average of 7% for all other jobs.
Why is slow pharmacy job growth a problem?
The BLS estimates that 17,400 jobs will be created between 2016 and 2026. Couple that figure with the 14,502 first professional degrees awarded in the 2016-2017 school year and it isn’t hard to see that supply is fast outpacing demand.
Pharmacy is unique, too, in that its graduates walk out of college into six-figure incomes that leave little room for future growth. Pharmacy is not unique in that salary is perhaps the most important consideration for those working in the profession.
So what can you expect from your pharmacist salary for 2019? Here’s a roundup of information that will help you plan for your financial future and understand the trends in the industry.
Perceived pharmacist shortages
Certain experts continue to point to an aging Baby Boomer population, an increase in chronic disease, and the increasing demand for medications as drivers of the perceived shortage of pharmacists.
I’ve discovered in my research that it’s difficult to prove the existence of a pharmacist shortage because we tend to rely on symptoms to make our case rather than actual facts and figures. Although the demand for pharmacists isn’t decreasing, it’s absolutely true that growth in pharmacy is slowing compared to other healthcare professions.
The truth of the pharmacy industry is that demand varies based upon pharmacy setting, geographic region, experience, skill set, and a variety of other factors. As of Q3 2018, for example, the Pharmacy Demand Indicator showed that growth was slowest in the south and greatest in the west.
Additionally, the PDI predicts that growth in hospitals, non-retail settings, and physician’s offices will outpace mail and retail pharmacy.
Payscale.com Pharmacist Salary
Payscale.com reports that the average pharmacist salary, as of November of 2018, is $111,525, with a range of $76,457 – $133,619. The site also reports that after bonuses and profit-sharing programs were added, the total pay range for pharmacists was $84,830 – $136,940.
Just seven months earlier, in April 2018, the site reported an average salary of $111,000 with a salary range of $83,726 to $136,212, representing a growth of about .5%.
Like the PDI, Payscale.com found that the greatest growth existed in cities along the west coast.
Additionally, the site reports that skills in pediatrics, managed care and hospital pharmacy correlate to higher pay for pharmacists. Retail pharmacy, hospital education, oncology, and long-term care were among the most prevalent skill sets for pharmacists.
Pharmacy Week Pharmacist Salary
Pharmacy Week joins forces with Mercer each year to create up-to-date salary information for pharmacists and other support staff.
Overall, Pharmacy Week reports that salaries increased overall, but that retail positions appear to trail other positions.
Most notable in the report was the first-ever decrease in base salary for retail pharmacists compared to 2017. It’s the first recorded drop in salary since the survey’s inception in 1995.
|Job Title||Hourly Pay Rate||+/- from 2016|
|Staff pharm – mail order||$62.61||+$4.04|
|Staff pharm – satellite||$62.76||+$1.70|
|Staff pharm – retail||$61.57||+$1.39|
|Staff pharm – hospital||$64.66||+$2.68|
Pharmacy Week also generates a list each of year of pharmacist salaries by state.
|State||Average Annual Salary 2016||Average Annual Salary 2018|
|North Dakota||Data not available||Data not available|
Pharmacy Week reported that all key pharmacy jobs saw an increase in turnover in 2018, with the highest turnover among Pharmacy Team Managers.
The annual survey also revealed that base pay increases were lower in 2018, averaging about .2%, compared to last year’s base pay average of $3.2%.
Drug Channels Pharmacist Salary
Drug Channels reported earlier this year that the average pharmacist salary hit $120,000, but that growth in the industry trails other healthcare professions.
The outlet also reported that the number of hospital pharmacists increased and that those pharmacists saw higher salaries and greater salary increases than their counterparts in outpatient dispensing formats.
Retail positions declined in 2017 to 61.1% of employment from 65.2% in 2010. Over the same time span, hospitals’ share of employment climbed from 23.2% in 2010 to 25.4% in 2017.
Pharmacists working for mass merchants had the highest salaries with the smallest increases in average salary. Salaries at non-retail settings grew more quickly than their retail counterparts.
The average change in salary for pharmacists in 2017 was 1.35%, compared to 2% for other healthcare workers.
Drug Channels collaborates with BLS and the State Workforce Agencies for its salary data.
|Dispensing format||Total employment||Avg Annual Salary|
|Mass merchant pharmacies||24,200||$123,160|
Trends in Pharmacist Salary
The shift in pharmacy continues as the number of pharmacists in various formats shifts to meet the changing demand.
Though pharmacy doesn’t appear to be on the decline, trends suggest that pay for pharmacists is flattening out over time, perhaps in response to market saturation. As more new pharmacists graduate from school and enter the workforce, the trend will likely continue.
You’ve likely noticed that the average pharmacist salary varies according to the source, but we hope this information will provide tools for you as you negotiate salaries and contemplate new opportunities.
In 2017, 14 of the top 15 highest paid occupations were in healthcare, with pharmacists reaching the 45th most highly paid occupation.
We’ll continue to monitor the evolution of pharmacist salary and update you as new information becomes available. This information can help you make informed decisions about your pharmacy career and how you’ll proceed in the future.
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Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.