As with many other health care professionals, the demand for pharmacists is expected to grow over the coming years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A favorable job market may offer opportunities for professional advancement, increased salary or both. Other potential opportunities include advancing into a management role, owning an independent pharmacy or being able to easily relocate.
A pharmacist must have a doctorate and pass licensing exams to practice, according to the BLS. Pharmacists compound and dispense medications and educate patients about the side effects of medications they take, along with other health issues. In addition, pharmacists advise other health care providers on the best medications for certain conditions and provide advice on dosages and interactions. Most pharmacists work in pharmacies and drug stores, although 23 percent worked in hospitals in 2010, according to the BLS.
Work Setting Impacts Salary
Pharmacists are well compensated for their work, and earned an average annual salary of $114,950 in 2012, according to the BLS. Work settings, however, can impact a pharmacist's salary. Those who worked in outpatient care centers, for example, earned $119,250, while those in physicians’ offices earned $120,310. General merchandise stores offered even better remuneration, with an average salary of $122,810. The best wages, however, were found in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, with an average annual salary of $123,680.
Management Is Another Option
Pharmacists who want other challenges as well as increased salaries may seek management positions. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, pharmacist managers ensure that medications are used safely and effectively within a health care organization and also provide support and leadership to pharmacy staff. Pharmacists in leadership roles had a salary range of $123,400 to $139,600, according to a 2013 "Pharmacy Week" survey.
Own Your Own Business
Some pharmacists choose to advance their careers by becoming small business owners. An independent pharmacy owner has the opportunity to provide specialized care to a group of patients over a long period of time, as well as the challenges of staff selection and supervision, daily management or even business expansion. Although clinical skills are a prerequisite for the pharmacist in this setting, business management skills are also a necessity, and the pharmacist can usually benefit from additional education in these areas, according to a September 2009 article in "Pharmacy Times." According to a January 2011 analysis on the Drug Channels website, independent pharmacists earned about $274,000 in 2009.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 29-1051 Pharmacists
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists: Pharmacy Management
- Pharmacy Week: Industry-Specific Results - 2013 Spring Edition
- Pharmacy Times: Leadership Key to Owning an Independent Pharmacy
- Drug Channels: Owning a Pharmacy Still Pretty Profitable
- Keith Brofsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images