Pharmacists Salary Outlook 2012

2012 Career and Salary Outlook for Pharmacists

Careers in health care continue to be in demand, creating opportunities for many new graduates. In particular, demand for trained pharmacists is projected to grow and salary outlook remains high. For those who are interested in starting a pharmacy or pre-pharmacy training program, or for those who are about to graduate from such a program, here is some more detailed information about projected growth to understand career and salary outlook for the field in 2012:

Reason for Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that demand for trained pharmacists is expected to rise 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, creating approximately 45,900 new jobs. The projected growth is faster than average for other careers. Many factors contribute to the increasing demand for pharmacists:

  • Increasing numbers of middle-aged and elderly people, who have more need for prescription drugs
  • Growing involvement of pharmacists in patient care, including the need to counsel patients on drug use and interactions
  • Growth of pharmaceutical industry and creation of new therapeutic drugs
  • Expanded access to insurance coverage under health-care reform

A shortage of trained pharmacists is also projected, contributing to greater demand. A conference sponsored by the Pharmacy Manpower Project predicted that there will be a shortfall of as many as 157,000 pharmacists by 2020 because the number of graduates is not keeping pace with the demand. Another report conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Depart of Health and Human Services reached similar conclusions about a projected shortage of pharmacists.

Because of the ongoing demand, 2012 pharmacy graduates should have no trouble finding immediate employment. (This is assuming that graduates are willing to relocate if their geographic areas are saturated such as in large metropolitan areas, e.g.: Los Angeles).

Salary Projections

Pharmacists have traditionally enjoyed an above average salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages were $106,410 in May 2008, and that the middle 50 percent of pharmacists earned between $92,670 and $121,310 a year. The highest 10 percent earned more than $131,440 a year.

The good news is that salaries are expected to remain high. The bad news is that salaries for pharmacists have traditionally remained stagnant over the course of a career, with small adjustments for inflation or experience earned. Some experience little to no salary growth over the course of their careers, limiting the potential for upward mobility.

However, many pharmacists can find advancement through research or managerial positions, which offer potential for salary increases. Because of the projected expansion of pharmaceutical services, many pharmacists are likely to find greater opportunities for mobility within the profession in the coming years.

Becoming a pharmacist takes many years of training – as much as six to eight years, depending on your program and your background – but there are many opportunities for those wishing to begin their careers in the field, either in hospitals, clinics, community centers, or retail pharmacists. Demand will continue to grow, expanding opportunities across sectors, and salaries will continue to remain high.



Erinn Stam is the Managing Editor for nursing student scholarships. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about nursing scholarships for single moms. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.



Pharm.D. Student (41 Posts)

USC Pharmacy School Student.


  1. I have had my eye on a pharmD since many of my friends went to St. Johns University in Astoria, NY for it. They are all very happy with their professions and financially stable. I am currently at University of Houston and I really like the fact that with a Pharmacy program, a student can study any undergrad program of their choosing as long as they meet the requirements for the pharmacy curriculum.

    Pharmacy and Dentistry are my favorites, I have spoken with my dentist, even follow him around for a few day on his private practice and I have to say that the option of owning your very own practice has its pros/cons, yet the pros out weigh the cons and this is also a field I like very much too.

    So I am caught in a jar of pickles here b/c I know I can make it through Pharmacy school and become a pharmacist but what if … that if …. I am second guessing myself here. I should grow up and just stick to Pharmacy but what if?!?! Dentistry should be just as much fun!

    I am not squeamish, 4 years of war have taking all the squeamishness out of my mind, and the prospect of having my very own practice sound very good. I will never be under the corporate world of “you are too old, time to retire ideal”. Yet both fields are extremely rewarding and fun. So I was hoping some one can shoot me some ideals about Pharmacy/Dentistry world.

    thanks !

  2. Alfredo,
    I would recommend investigating both career choices very thoroughly before deciding. As far as pharmacy goes, a lot of websites will tell you that pharmacy is a promising field right now based on the projected growth. They all site the BLS information. It should be noted that the info from the BLS is from 2008. A lot has changed since then, including the downturn of the economy, the opening of many new pharmacy schools and existing schools increasing their class sizes.
    You may have heard of a pharmicist shortage. It is no more. In fact, in many cities it has become very difficult to find a job as a pharmacist. Things will likely get worse for pharmacists as some of the new schools have yet to produce their first graduating class, and I have read recently that even more schools are being planned. With the excess of pharmacists now and in the future, it is likely that wages will decrease.
    I would recommend talking with pharmacists in your area and with those in charge of hiring. Ask them what the current job prospects are like. If you can, find out how many applications they receive when they post an opening.
    One last thing worth noting, most pharmacists work in retail. If you want to work in a hospital or clinical setting, you will likely be required do do a 1-2 year residency. Even residencies have become very competetive because of the large increase of students.
    Please don’t take my word for anything I’ve said. Do your own homework. And if pharmacy is what you want to do, then do it, because even if the situation is as bad as I say, there will still be opportunities. You’ll just have to work harder for them.

  3. Pharmacists are finding it quite difficult to find employment. Most new grads have to move to a small town to secure a retail position. I feel that this article is quite misleading in terms of future outlook.

  4. Alfredo, I have been a pharmacist for about 12 years now and in spite of the good salary I would NOT recommend this as a career. I have moved a few times with my husband and have worked in several pharmacy settings. Often, the working conditions are poor i.e. short staffing (companys have used the staffing shortage to demand more and more from individual pharmacists) , bad schedules (I have often worked late nights, graveyard shifts and holidays), difficult co workers, high stress work environments and no work-life balance. I also agree with the other post that jobs openings are deminishing and salarys may drop. So, take a closer look at dentistry!

  5. I graduated with a PharmD a little more than 10 years ago. It continues to me with a wealth of opportunities both within the practice of pharmacy and, even more so, outside of the practice of pharmacy. Pharmacists, much like RNs, have tremendous potential to have very successful careers in a multitude of areas.
    If you are a motivated person and have interest in getting a PharmD, I would highly recommend it!


  6. I met a lot of pharmacists while working in retail that ended up going back to school for dentistry. The love for both of the fields seems to be common . . ..

  7. for people who see pharmacists do not have a bright present and future, I would say give some specific reasons (ex. statistical data) why the demand for pharmacists is decreasing. Also, if you are posting a feedback that only entails negative/pessimistic comments about pharmacists, it may not always be helpful for viewers who have serious thoughts about becoming a pharmacist. If you are posting a comment, try putting in alternatives (other job opportunities) that could go in place of a pharmacist if you really think becoming a pharmacist may not be the best option.

  8. Inam a pharmacist who worked hospital pharmacy. When I got licensed in1979. Hospitals pay less than chain store. I looked at industry in 1985, and was hired by a medium size pharma compny. Worked there ever since. I have won 8 international trips(Hawaii,Greece,Italy,Vancouver,Thailand etc)
    I have there as a representative and make $160.000, and I get a car and gas
    Love it

  9. Robert, you must be a very competent and successful pharmacist. However, if you were a pharmacist back in the 80′s, things have changed a lot since then. There are a lot more pharmacists these days, and competition in this field is a lot more intense. Contratulations on your successful career as a pharmacist, but I also want you to know that not every pharmacist earns a high salary like you do.

  10. Great responses all! I feel that most of the pharmacists that are unhappy with the profession are the ones that did not pursue further education/training. I know that I definitely do not want to get stuck in the retail aspect of pharmacy; my goal is to be a pharmacists working in oncology with a possibility in some teaching on the side. I feel if you diversify, the career will feel much more rewarding and in turn, be more enjoyable!


  11. I am a new graduate from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. I truly feel that the promising future of pharmacy that was painted for me 7 years ago when I applied to pharmacy school has been as misleading as this article. I feel like I did everything right: Deans’s list student every semester, very social and involved in school organizations, extensive work history involving community retail, in-patient hospitals (both adult and pediatric), and summer internships. I was even selected to help a PharmD teacher with research! Nonetheless, the market in STL is so extremely saturated that I have not found a job in 6 months of very extensive searching. Albeit I have a great personality and feel confident I will be an exceptional pharmacist, there are no positions “for new grads”. Jobs are so limited that pharmacists who did 1-2 years of residency training are accepting jobs as overnight staff pharmacists. Albeit, I realize this is all truly spoken about my city specifically, but what others have posted is right: jobs are extremely scarce unless you are willing to move away to a small town in the middle of nowhere :(

  12. http://www.pharmacymanpower.com

    If you look at the information presented on the above site you can see the demand is rapidly being replaced with surplus. I am a recent PharmD grad that excelled throughout my rotations and had nothing but amazing reviews from my references. That said searching for jobs throughout the MidWest, areas of the south, and a few others (to be near family) the job postings are EXTREMELY RARE. I love the world of pharmacy and don’t regret my career choice at all, however with the unregulated growth of pharmacy schools and the economic downturn finally effecting healthcare the jobs just aren’t there. I’m rapidly approaching my loan repayment date and am only now getting a few interviews.

  13. I am midwife from overseas and also have BS in bilogy GPA 3.7 from US so, not a dum person. BUT after 3 years strugle to accept to pharmacy school still not successful. I even was in high alternate list but still not in. some one tell me what is wrong please.Is it land of opportunity?!!!!
    good GPA, strong application, strong desire,…. WOW

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