The 2021 Pharmacist Salary Guide

by | Feb 23, 2021 | Finance, Salary

Welcome back to The Happy PharmD’s annual salary guide! We’ve made some changes this year to make the guide a bit more palatable.

So this year, we’re providing a table with the most important stats for you, followed by an overview of a few important topics. (Okay, we still had to sprinkle in a few stats. We just couldn’t help ourselves.) We hope you found it helpful!

(FYI, if you’re thinking “Yikes, there’s too much info here!” simply click this link to download our salary guide PDF to review later. Plus it includes information about pharmacy job market growth, job satisfaction, and stress)

Here are previous years’ salary reports: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

Download the complete PDF of this report here.

Now, let’s get started.

Compare your salary to the Average Pharmacist Salary (gathered from the survey sources below) either by clicking this link or placing your information in this form below:

Report Date

March 2020

February 2021

December 2020

January 2021

December 2020

2019 Data

January 2021

Average Salary







Median Pay






Salary Range

$132,310 to $157,400

$109,000 to $140,000

$122,705 to $155,086

$83,000 to $137,000

Change from 2020 guide




Lowest 10%

< $122,705

Lowest 25%


Highest 25%


Highest 10%

> $155,086

> $162,900

> $136,500

Survey Size (if reported)





We gathered pharmacist salary data from the most reputable sites. Each report demonstrated a six-figure salary for nearly all pharmacists. Despite many negative job market factors, which we discuss more in our downloadable report, the pharmacist salary remains stable if not slightly increasing, according to a few reports. 

Next, let’s look at pharmacist salary based on experience, salary based on job sector, and recent pharmacy salary changes.

Pharmacist Salary Based on Experience: reported the following salaries based on experience level:


Years of experience

Hourly wage (reported)

Annual Wage (calculated)

Less than 1 year



1–4 years



5–9 years



10–19 years



20+ years



No surprises here. The pharmacist salary continues to prove it has a high starting salary but an extremely low ceiling. Twenty years of experience can increase your salary by nearly $12,000 (or a 10% increase from a starting salary with no experience). This low ceiling may subtly not encourage high performance. 

Pharmacist Salary Based on Job Sector:

A few of the reports broke down pharmacists by job type, although each could not agree to the same terms. Unfortunately, after 6 years of making these reports, we pharmacists cannot seem to agree on how to name job types. An interesting insight is that physicians, nurses, and physician assistants salary reports rarely disagree about the job types or industry names.



Drug Channels

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (reported Median)

Defined by setting

Defined by setting

Nuclear pharmacist (healthcare)



Outpatient care centers


Clinical pharmacist (healthcare and health insurance)



Registered staff pharmacist



Registered staff pharmacist (remote)


Pharmacy management (chain drug store)



Pharmacy management (hospital/healthcare system)



Food and beverage stores


Pharmacy management (supermarket)



Clinical pharmacist (hospital/healthcare system)



Registered staff pharmacist (hospital/healthcare system)







Registered staff pharmacist (remote pharmacy services, hospital/healthcare system)


Registered staff pharmacist (supermarket)



Supermarkets with pharmacies


General merchandise stores


Registered staff pharmacist (chain drug store)



Chain, independent, and long-term care


Pharmacies and drug stores


Clinical pharmacist (mail-order/PBM)


Mail pharmacies


Home healthcare services


Physician offices


Mass merchants with pharmacies


Overall, you can see wide reporting on various pharmacy job settings. Here it is important to note the differences between the reports’ use of median and average. As one may suspect, specialties like nuclear, ambulatory care, or oncology continue to be higher-paying pharmacist jobs. 

GlassDoor’s data may be misleading, as you may notice multiple similar salaries for different job types are the same. This indicates perhaps Glassdoor isn’t properly coding salary reports. We believe the 10,010 reported salaries (at the time of our review, Jan 2021) are not properly distinguished between job types.


We initially included ZipRecruiter data in this chart, however, we later excluded this data because the reported 3 out of 5 top-paying positions were “hospital pharmacist”, “inpatient pharmacist” and “inpatient pharmacist” without providing more detail of what the differences between these positions would be (if you’re an outsider, a typical pharmacist would see these titles and believe them to be the same type of position). We also excluded “Food and Beverage Store Pharmacists” ($132,750 Median) from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report in our table, as no distinction was made between it and “General merchandise stores” or “Pharmacies and drug stores.”

Pharmacist Salary Changes:

We continue to see the overall pharmacist salary slow down in growth, if not decreasing in certain pharmacy sectors. reported that while salaries in all pharmacy industries grew in 2019 (2020’s report releases mid-2021), the salaries of pharmacists employed in hospital settings had greater increases (+2.1%) than those in retail settings (+1.2%).

Drug Topics mentioned the potential salary decrease: “The number of pharmacists with salaries in the $100,000 to $130,000 range in 2020 [was]: 38% reported making that amount in 2020, compared with 40% in 2019.” Note, the same pharmacists are not surveyed every year. provides an overall cumulative pay growth based on the median of anonymous and self-reporting pharmacists since 2015. This includes all pharmacists positions. The year 2020 saw a very small increase in pharmacist salary. Reports stated a small increase in salary, which is consistent over the last 6 years of our salary reports. 

But what we’ve anecdotally observed is a significant sum of practitioners (new and experienced) reporting abysmal starting salaries ($35/hour-$40/hour, but even single reports of as low as $28/hour). The best evidence that displays this trend is the Drug Topics salary report. They found 13% reported less than $70,000 annual salary. However, it wasn’t reported how many of the 13% under $70K were full-time or part-time employees, but only 4% reported less than $40/hr (< $83,200/yr). Drug Topics reported the total employment rates were 78% full-time and 13.4% employed part-time.

Source: Drug Topics

Finally, U.S. News and World Report notes that pharmacists rank #20 in best-paying jobs (up from #21 in 2018).

There you go! 

We hope this quick guide was informative and helpful. If you’d like to download our Salary Guide PDF to review later, click here. In it, we’ve also included a bit about pharmacist stress, job satisfaction, and job growth. We think you’ll like it!

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Creating Happy Pharmacists

If you really want to build the career and life that you’ve dreamed of, one where you are helping people and working in a field that you love, you need to do something different than what you’ve been doing.

Through coaching you can re-discover why you became a pharmacist and find your passion again.