Pharmacist Salary

Pharmacists are responsible for packaging, distributing, and compounding medications for individuals in a variety of settings. Pharmacists also provide education to consumers on medications and general health information. Increasingly, pharmacists provide a wide range of healthcare advice to consumers and work closely with doctors to maintain patients’ health.

Pharmacists in the U.S. are licensed and must have a pharmacy degree. The job outlook is positive and the salary for a pharmacist can range between about $80,000 to $135,000.*

*According to the BLS,

Salary Overview

According to a 2009 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a pharmacist is $109,180. The range from the 10th to 90th percentile is $79,270 to $134,290.*

Salary ranges vary according to the work setting as well as job responsibilities. Pharmacists who manage employees or businesses will generally have a higher income. Some pharmacists may also be business owners rather than salaried employees. Geography is another factor that determines a pharmacist’s salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports notes that California was the state with the highest salary for this position with a mean salary of $117,080, compared to states such as Rhode Island or North Dakota with mean salaries under $100,000.*

*According to the BLS,

Pharmacists may also work in non-traditional settings, such as in research, government, or insurance. Salaries for these positions will depend on the job description and responsibilities, but are in a similar range to employees working in retail or hospital settings.

Job Description and Outlook

Most pharmacists work in retail or hospital settings, dispensing medication and providing advice and education. The job duties will vary depending on the setting. Busy retail or hospital locations can be demanding with many hours standing each day. In rural settings with fewer customers, the work atmosphere may be more relaxed. Pharmacists in retail settings may also be business owners or general or regional managers.

Many pharmacists are either the only pharmacist in their location or work with 1-3 other pharmacists. Pharmacists may also work in larger groups with many pharmacists working together or on rotating shifts. In larger groups, pharmacists may advance by taking on additional supervisory or management duties. Pharmacists may also supervise and work closely with pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacists will need to work closely with insurance companies and develop an understanding of insurance billing practices. Detailed records are required and pharmacists are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of health information as a part of their job.

Pharmacists may also work in other settings. Pharmacists may conduct research about medications and their effects. Federal agencies and insurers may also hire pharmacists to evaluate drug safety and formularies.

Most pharmacists work full time. Most pharmacists work about 40 hours per week, although some pharmacists may have longer hours or on-call responsibilities. This particularly true for pharmacists who own a small business. Some part time opportunities are available.

Pharmacists in full time positions are likely to receive healthcare benefits and paid vacation time. Some pharmacists may also receive bonuses. Because of the need for trained pharmacists, sign-on bonuses may be offered in areas with a high demand.

The job outlook for pharmacists is positive. There are currently more job openings than pharmacists in many markets. As the population ages, the role of pharmacists will continue to be important and in demand.*

*According to the BLS,

Training and Education Requirements

Pharmacists are required to be licensed in all 50 U.S. states. A 4-year pharmacy school is required to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy or Pharm.D. These accredited programs require a minimum of 2 years of college education prior to enrollment, meaning that a total of 6-8 years of higher education is required. A pharmacy program will also require practical experience through training at several locations under the supervision of an experienced pharmacist.

Pharmacists may also obtain additional training or education. Some pharmacists have received training to perform vaccinations. Pharmacist that are managers or business owners may benefit from business programs, such as an MBA or healthcare administration degree.


Pharmacists are licensed by the state. An exam is required in all states after obtaining the necessary degree. Two exams that are in common use are the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) and the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). Some states may require additional or state specific testing. Most states will also require pharmacists to obtain ongoing education (CEUs) to maintain licensure.

Professional Associations

The American Pharmacist Association (APhA) is the leading pharmacy organization that provides ongoing training and support for pharmacists as well as advocacy to promote the value of pharmacists.

The National Community Pharmacist Association (NCPA) focuses on providing support, education, and resources for community pharmacists working in independent pharmacies.

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is responsible for accrediting pharmacy programs and provides information for students who are looking to pursue a pharmacy degree.

Individual states also also state-based pharmacy associations that provide information and training that is specific to the state licensing requirements.

Most popular careers in Health:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Medical Transcriptionist
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Health Administration
  • Medical Sonographer
  • Dental Assistant

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer