A career in the field of pharmacy is considered to be very lucrative because of the high starting salary these professionals get, as well as the high potential and scope for rapid growth with experience. This CareerStint article has information about the average starting salary for pharmacists, and a brief explanation of their job description.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin are the top-paying states for pharmacists. States with the highest employment level in this occupation are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania.
A few decades ago, a pharmacist used to be a person behind the counter at our neighborhood drug or grocery store. These days, newly graduated students who want to pursue a career in pharmacy have several options other than retail pharmacy. In general, the job of a pharmacist involves providing prescribed medicines and advice. He/she shoulders the important responsibility of guiding the patients about administration of medicines and possible interactions with other medicines by giving correct information about the contents and use of a particular medicine.
All those who wish to make a successful career in the field of pharmacy, should be well aware of the job description, to keep their efforts on the right track. Candidates have to acquire a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) to get the requisite license to practice as a pharmacist. Those who want to go into management would need a business degree too. The best thing about pharmaceutical jobs is that there are many chances of career development, and they are less affected by the recession, as compared to several other sectors.
As per BLS, the average annual salary of a pharmacists is USD 120,950. According to PayScale, the average starting salary for pharmacists can be in the range of $71,606 – $128,047 per year, which is quite impressive as compared to many other professions.
Factors that Determine the Starting Salary
The starting salary of a pharmacist largely depends on how good the academic record of the candidate is, and the university from which he/she has obtained the essential degree. The higher the rank of the university, more will be the starting salary. The skills, depth of knowledge, and ability to utilize the knowledge practically are also the factors which govern the salary. However, the most influential factors that affect the starting salary of a pharmacist are location and type of employer (or industry). The salaries are believed to be more in the metropolitan cities, and those working in reputed retail medicine outlets are among the highest paid professionals.
Salary By Location
Many people joining the industry are believed to be earning around USD 75,000 per year as a starting salary. According to Indeed, pharmacists working in San Francisco and New York city are believed to be the highest paid with a median income of USD 146,000. Those in Atlanta and Boston take home $135,000, while those in Dallas receive $110,000 annually.
Salary By Industry
According to BLS, the median annual salaries for pharmacists in the top five industries in which they worked were as follows:
- General merchandise stores – $128,910
- Department stores – $120,540
- Pharmacies and drug stores – $117,850
- Grocery stores – $116,000
- Hospitals – $114,100
Thus, the starting salaries may vary slightly according to the type and size of the industry. According to PayScale, entry-level salary figures for pharmacist with retail pharmacy skills can be in the range of US $79,585 – $129,939. Like other highly placed professionals, pharmacists also receive attractive bonuses based on their experience and talent.
Career paths available in pharmacy include pharmacogenomics, clinical pharmacy, long-term care, ambulatory care, pharmacovigilence, pharmacy benefits management, clinical research, nuclear pharmacy, medical writing, teaching, working at call centers providing drug information, etc. The duties and responsibilities of a pharmacist may vary according to the type of the job. Depending on the nature of work, they may have to communicate with patients and their relatives, physicians, nurses, insurance companies, technicians at imaging (scanning) centers, college students, wholesalers, retailers, etc. So, interpersonal skills play an important role in this occupation. Some may start working in drug manufacturing industries or may participate in research and development activities in big pharmaceutical companies. The salary may vary according to the size of the company and type of the hiring industry. Some may decide to work for the Federal or State governments. Duties of a pharmacist mainly involve promoting public health. He/she manages the pharmacy while providing pharmaceutical care to patients, maintains the data and carries out research regarding drugs and their effects.
According to the BLS, employment of pharmacists is projected to grow 14% from 2012 to 2022. States with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation are West Virginia, Tennessee, South Dakota, Montana, and Alabama. Maximum number of jobs are available in health and personal care stores, and in general medical and surgical hospitals. Large metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Phoenix, Miami, and Washington are the places, where pharmacists have a scope of earning a higher salary.
From the salary and job description, we conclude that it is an exciting and highly rewarding profession. With a sound educational background and relevant experience, you can achieve great heights in the field of pharmacy.