How much does a pharmacist make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average (mean) salary for pharmacists is $128,570, which comes to $62 per hour.
However, an individual pharmacist’s salary can vary significantly based on experience and location. The top 10% make more than $164,590, while the bottom 10% earn less than $76,840.
Pharmacists are one of the highest-paying professions for new college graduates. Unlike other high-paying jobs, many six-figure pharmacist positions don’t require any prior work experience.
This enviable starting salary comes with fierce competition.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the total number of pharmacist jobs will grow 2% between 2021 and 2031. The only job openings will come from the estimated 13,600 pharmacists who retire or leave the profession each year.
So while it’s not one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., it is holding fairly steady. If you can snatch one of the few annual job openings, becoming a pharmacist is a promising career path.
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States where pharmacists earn the most
Pharmacists willing to relocate can substantially boost their income. For example, the average pharmacist in California earns 14% more than the national average.
The top-paying states for pharmacists are:
- California: $146,140
- Alaska: $145,910
- Oregon: $136,520
- Washington: $134,290
- Vermont: $130,460
Those aren’t necessarily the best states for job prospects, however.
Alaska has the second-highest average salary for pharmacists, but there are only 480 pharmacists in the entire state. That’s peanuts compared to California, which is home to 33,130 pharmacists.
Metropolitan areas where pharmacists earn the most
The story also gets more complicated as your focus narrows. When you rank pharmacy salaries by metropolitan area, Alaska doesn’t even have a spot in the top 10.
Nine of the highest-paying metropolitan areas for pharmacists are in California, and one is in Wisconsin.
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $168,640
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $163,840
- Santa Rosa, CA: $158,420
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $156,850
- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: $152,770
- Salinas, CA: $152,760
- Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA: $150,730
- San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA: $150,150
- Madera, CA: $149,490
- Modesto, CA: $148,490
In the San Jose area, the average pharmacist earns 26% more than the national average.
Note that the metro areas where pharmacists earn the most don’t necessarily correlate to the places with the highest cost of living. New York and Hawaii — the two states with the highest cost of living — are nowhere to be found in the top 10.
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Average pharmacist salaries by state
Wondering how much pharmacists earn in your area? Here’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics mean salary data broken down by state:
How does the average salary for pharmacists compare to other jobs?
When compared to other health-care jobs, a pharmacist's average salary falls right in the middle:
- Family medicine physician: $235,930
- Dentist: $167,160
- Pharmacist: $125,690
- Registered nurse: $82,750
- Pharmacy technician: $37,970
Dentists and physicians may earn more than pharmacists, but they also require at least two additional years of schooling. Still, since pharmacist opportunities are declining, it may be harder to get a job.
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