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).
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.