How much does a pharmacist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average (mean) salary for pharmacists is $125,690, which comes to $60.43 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 fall by 2% between 2020 and 2030. The only job openings will come from the estimated 11,300 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:

  1. California: $146,140
  2. Alaska: $145,910
  3. Oregon: $136,520
  4. Washington: $134,290
  5. 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.

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $168,640
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $163,840
  3. Santa Rosa, CA: $158,420
  4. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $156,850
  5. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: $152,770
  6. Salinas, CA: $152,760
  7. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA: $150,730
  8. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA: $150,150
  9. Madera, CA: $149,490
  10. 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:

Average dentist salary by state
State Average salary
Alabama $126,950
Alaska $145,910
Arizona $120,880
Arkansas $121,970
California $146,140
Colorado $125,040
Connecticut $123,100
Delaware $129,360
Florida $121,970
Georgia $119,660
Hawaii $128,080
Idaho $122,420
Illinois $118,770
Indiana $119,020
Iowa $122,090
Kansas $119,850
Kentucky $122,730
Louisiana $122,000
Maine $126,520
Maryland $121,290
Massachusetts $120,240
Michigan $120,780
Minnesota $129,160
Mississippi $119,250
Missouri $121,870
Montana $120,660
Nebraska $118,940
Nevada $127,250
New Hampshire $128,870
New Jersey $123,370
New Mexico $120,950
New York $128,260
North Carolina $126,790
North Dakota $115,480
Ohio $118,020
Oklahoma $116,450
Oregon $136,520
Pennsylvania $121,230
Rhode Island $110,410
South Carolina $116,080
South Dakota $125,220
Tennessee $115,400
Texas $127,320
Utah $125,740
Vermont $130,460
Virginia $123,380
Washington $134,290
West Virginia $117,420
Wisconsin $129,640
Wyoming $122,760

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: $213,270
  • 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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About the Author

Mitchell Glass

Mitchell Glass

Freelance Contributor

Mitchell is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.com.

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