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How Much Do Pharmacists Make?

Janice Monti, Ph.D.
Updated September 13, 2022
If you are thinking about becoming a pharmacist, explore this guide to learn more about salary prospects and ways to increase your pay once you enter the profession.
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Pharmacists play an important role in improving patient care and quality of life. As specialists in the use of medications, these highly respected healthcare professionals can expect excellent employment and earning prospects in various settings.

Pharmacists often work in places such as retail drug stores or supermarkets. Many pharmacists work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and long-term care facilities. They also can find career opportunities in research, government agencies, and higher education.

Average Salary for Pharmacists

How much do pharmacists make? The answer depends on several factors, such as certification, specialized skills, and experience.

Some employment settings for pharmacists, like outpatient care and research and development, pay significantly more than pharmacies and drugstores. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pharmacists earn an average hourly wage of $60.43 or an annual average salary of $125,690, much higher than the annual average for all occupations of $58,260.

Around 11,300 pharmacist openings are projected each year through 2030. While demand has declined slightly due to the reduction of retail pharmacy chain locations and the growing reliance on online and mail-order pharmacies, the BLS projects the need for pharmacists to expand in hospitals and other clinical settings.

The demand will also increase in areas with large elderly populations who require more prescription medications to treat chronic diseases associated with aging.

Median Annual Salary

Median Hourly Wage

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The Highest-Paying States for Pharmacists

Where a pharmacist works has an important impact on salary. California pays the highest pharmacist salary in the U.S, followed by Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. Earning levels in these states are driven by ongoing shortages of skilled healthcare professionals and higher than average cost of living.

Pharmacists based in large urban areas can also expect higher rates of compensation. California boasts all top ten metropolitan areas for pharmacist salaries, ranging from $148,490 in the centrally located Modesto region to $168,640 in San Jose and the surrounding Silicon Valley.

The states with the highest annual pay for pharmacists are:

Highest-Paying States
StateAverage Salary

Source:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

4 Ways to Increase Pay As a Pharmacist

As the job market grows more competitive, pharmacists who equip themselves with specialized training and skills can increase their earning potential. Pharmacists can expand their career and salary opportunities by earning board certifications, taking on advisory, managerial, or teaching responsibilities, or switching to in-demand practice settings.

  1. 1

    Consider Pursuing Certifications

    Pharmacists who earn board certifications demonstrate their specialized expertise, boosting their employment options and salary. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties recognizes 14 specialty pharmacy areas, including certifications as pediatric pharmacy specialists, oncology pharmacists, and nutrition support pharmacists.

    Each certification has its own eligibility qualifications, specialty exams, and requirements for continuing education and renewal.

  2. 2

    Serve on an Advisory Board

    After receiving their doctor of pharmacy degree, license, and gaining professional experience, pharmacists may increase their professional standing and earnings by serving on advisory boards. These include pharmacy schools, healthcare provider organizations, and healthcare plans.

    Members of pharmacy advisory boards can act as industry influencers by helping to advance research and education, working as policy advocates, and engaging in fundraising.

  3. 3

    Complete Comprehensive Medication Reviews

    Pharmacists can boost their earnings in administrative roles by managing pharmacies, working for marketing or research companies, and becoming consultants in medication therapy management or administering comprehensive medication reviews. In this role, they collect patient information, assess prescriptions, develop medication action plans, and provide documentation for physicians and insurers.

  4. 4

    Change Practice Setting OR Become a Professor or Lecturer

    Although most pharmacists work in traditional community and retail settings, those working in specialized positions or holding advanced certifications can earn the highest salaries.

    According to the BLS, pharmacists in scientific research and development services, outpatient care centers, and industry management make over $140,000 a year. Also, pharmacy programs continue to experience the need for doctorally trained pharmacists to teach college courses and provide continuing education credits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pharmacist Salaries

question-mark-circleHow do pharmacists negotiate salary?

Before accepting a salary offer, pharmacists should check the salary information published by the BLS, Payscale, or other career data providers to find out what compensation is like in a certain geographic location and industry. Pharmacists can leverage their marketability by earning a board certification or gaining experience in a specialty area.

question-mark-circleWhat type of pharmacist gets paid the most?

Pharmacist salaries vary widely depending on location, work setting, and specialty areas. Because of changes in the retail landscape, earning potential for retail pharmacists is not as strong as those with specialties in clinical pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, and other in-demand certifications.

question-mark-circleWhat state has the highest pharmacist salary?

California pays the highest, offering average annual salaries above $146,000. Overall, pharmacists receive the highest pay in the Northern states on the West and East coasts, earning average yearly incomes of at least $130,000.

question-mark-circleWhat skills should a pharmacist have?

Pharmacists receive extensive training in pharmaceutical design and medication use and dispensing. They should also possess strong communication skills when instructing patients and caregivers.

Pharmacists must pay attention to detail, avoid errors, and watch for harmful drug interactions. Because pharmacists often spend most of their workday standing, they need physical stamina and high energy levels.

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