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How Much Does a Pharmacist Make in a Year?

By Susan Guillory · December 22, 2023 · 6 minute read

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How Much Does a Pharmacist Make in a Year?

If you’re exploring career options, pharmacy might have popped up on your radar — and for good reason. Not only can pharmacists command a good salary, they also have job security, as the pharmaceutical industry is one that won’t vanish any time soon.

That said, how much does a pharmacist make? Is it worth all the trouble of going through pharmacy school to become one? Let’s find out.

What Are Pharmacists?

You’ve likely picked up a prescription or two at a pharmacy, but maybe you didn’t give any thought to the person behind the counter. This individual is your local pharmacist, and it’s their job to prepare and dispense prescription medications.

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Pharmacist Job Responsibility Examples

In addition to doling out prescription drugs, pharmacists also consult with patients, provide instructions for how to take medications, and help patients find low-cost medications. Some also give health screenings and immunizations.

Keep in mind, a pharmacist often needs to be outgoing, since their work involves speaking with patients throughout the day. If that’s not your personality, you may want to look into jobs for introverts.

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How Much Is a Starting Pharmacist Salary?

As with most professions, pharmacists tend to earn more money as they gain more experience. But what is a good entry-level salary for pharmacists?

Pharmacists with less than a year of experience generally earn, on average, about $54 per hour. That’s $112,320 per year.

Of course, how much you actually can earn depends on where you live, what your duties are, and whether you work for an independent pharmacy or a chain. It can also help to research the highest-paying jobs by state.

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What Is the Average Salary for a Pharmacist?

Now that you see what starting salaries are for pharmacists, let’s address the next question: How much money does a more experienced pharmacist make?

Generally speaking, pharmacists are usually paid by the hour. A pharmacist with 10 years of experience earns an average of $67.05 per hour. That adds up to $139,464 per year.

What Is the Average Pharmacist Salary by State for 2023?

The amount you make will depend on where you live, among other factors. Here’s a look at the average pharmacist salaries by state, from highest to lowest.

State Salary
California $161,597
Oregon $155,710
Washington $149,466
New Hampshire $141,041
Nevada $140,869
Maine $139,517
Vermont $137,658
Delaware $136,276
Maryland $135,894
Connecticut $134,175
Alaska $134,044
Massachusetts $131,978
Rhode Island $131,960
New Jersey $131,698
New York $131,594
Pennsylvania $129,724
New Mexico $129,145
Wisconsin $128,918
Minnesota $128,502
Virginia $128,380
Hawaii $128,245
Arizona $126,174
Idaho $125,760
North Carolina $125,068
Michigan $124,768
Colorado $120,986
Illinois $120,887
Kansas $118,122
Ohio $117,573
Kentucky $117,448
Indiana $117,338
Missouri $116,513
Nebraska $116,366
Utah $116,009
South Carolina $115,570
West Virginia $115,339
Texas $115,089
North Dakota $114,359
Georgia $114,118
Tennessee $112,879
Wyoming $112,326
Montana $111,924
Iowa $110,405
Florida $109,106
Alabama $106,271
Mississippi $105,677
Louisiana $102,542
South Dakota $100,246
Oklahoma $98,951
Arkansas $89,660

Source: Zippia

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Pharmacist Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

Where you live is one factor that can determine how much you earn as a pharmacist. Your on-the-job responsibilities may also play a role. For example, there are different job titles, and each has its own set of responsibilities, requirements, and salary ranges. Examples include:

•   Staff pharmacist

•   Pharmacy specialist

•   Clinical pharmacist

•   Pharmacy manager

•   Director of pharmacy

Some pharmacists may have roles and responsibilities beyond filling prescriptions, such as offering immunizations and health screenings. Some may be in charge of hiring and managing other employees. Some may work in traditional pharmacies, while others may work for companies focusing on chemotherapy, nuclear pharmacy, or long-term care.

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Pros and Cons of Pharmacist Salary

While being a pharmacist can be a rewarding job, there are potential drawbacks to keep in mind. Let’s look at some pros and cons.

Pros of Being a Pharmacist

Naturally, the high salary pharmacists tend to command may be one reason to consider this career path. Because many pharmacists get paid by the hour, they’ll be compensated fairly for their time even if they work more than 40 hours a week.

Another perk is that you may have a flexible schedule that allows you to work part-time or during certain hours. There could even be opportunities to work remotely, which may be useful if you’re working in a rural area.

You might also be able to open your own pharmacy instead of working for someone else. This brings freedom and flexibility to you as a business owner.

Finally, you’ll be a valuable member of your community, since it’s your job to help people on their path to wellness.

Cons of Becoming a Pharmacist

If becoming a pharmacist was easy, everyone would do it! For starters, you’ll need to have about six years of education after high school. And the cost of pharmacy school can range anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 a year for an in-state public college, or $20,000 to $95,000 a year for a private school.

Depending on your financial situation, this could require you to tap into savings or take out student loans. (Creating a budget while you’re in school or just starting out can help you keep track of where your money is going. A money tracker app can help make the job easier.)

Another possible drawback? Some pharmacies may not guarantee a certain number of hours a week, and in that case, being paid hourly may not come with the big paycheck you’d expect.

Also keep in mind that some pharmacists work long hours, which can have a negative impact on your health and mental wellbeing.

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

If you’re looking for a rewarding and potentially lucrative job, becoming a pharmacist might fit the bill. You’ll help your local community get healthier, and depending on where you live and your level of experience, you could earn competitive pay, too.

FAQ

What is the highest pharmacist salary?

The state where pharmacists tend to earn the most is California. The average annual income of a pharmacist there is $161,597.

Is it hard to be hired as a pharmacist?

Becoming a pharmacist requires six years of education after high school. The workload is challenging, and pharmacies looking to hire generally have high expectations of applicants.


Photo credit: iStock/ADragan
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