The 2020 Pharmacist Salary Guide - The Happy PharmD (2024)

Looking for the 2022 Pharmacists Salary Guide? Click here.

Here we are, back with our annual salary guide. We provide these each year not only to provide insight into what may be the most preferable pharmacy jobs, but also to aid you in any raise negotiations you may be seeking.

While pharmacy isn’t seeing a major increase in salary, pharmacy pay is remaining consistent across all areas. Pharmacy unemployment is very low, though the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics projected in 2018 that there would be little to no job growth in pharmacy between 2018 and 2028. Pharmacy remains a respectable career with an average pay of around $125,000 annually (though you’ll find that varies some across sources).

If you’d like to check out any of our previous salary guides, you can do so here:

We’ve chosen several sources of information for this year’s guide. You’ll find that the exact numbers vary a bit, but that the information overall is consistent across sources. We will review data from,,,, and U.S. News & World Report.

We’ll discuss where pharmacy is growing (in both number of pharmacists and salary), what factors affect salary, the best places to work in pharmacy, and some of the challenges that come with the higher-than-average pharmacist salary.

Now, let’s dive in. Pharmacist Salaries

As of March 26, 2020, the average annual pay of a pharmacist is $135,589, with pay typically ranging from $127,761 to $144,413.

The highest 10% earn more than $152,446 annually, and the lowest 10% earn less than $120,634. Salaries vary depending on education, certification, skills, and number of years in pharmacy. Pharmacist Salary

As of 4/1/2020, reports pharmacy salaries ranging from $81,000 to $136,000, with the average pharmacist salary at $114,207. Pharmacists are generally looking at an average of a $2,443 bonus as well as $3,922 from profit sharing each year.

November 2018 data had reported an average pharmacist salary of $111,525. This shows a growth of 2.4% in the span of about 18 months.

The Kroger Company is the highest-paying retail pharmacy, coming in at an annual pharmacist salary of $126,261. CVS Caremark Corporation pays the lowest at $112,352 per year.

Pharmacists with skills in retail pharmacy, hospital education, pharmacotherapy, patient counseling, and long-term care tend to have higher salaries than other areas of pharmacy.

Years of experience affects salaries as follows. (The salary amounts reported here include tips, bonuses, and overtime.)

  • Average earnings with less than 1 year of experience: $102,081
  • Average earnings with 1–4 years of experience: $109,087
  • 5–9 years: $118,566
  • 10–19 years: $119,438
  • 20+ years $120,914

Notice that while salaries increase significantly within initial years of work in pharmacy (the first 5 years), salary increases tend to plateau after that.

The average salary in each of these ranges of years of experience has shown little to no increase since reporting in 2017.

Drug Channels Pharmacist Salary

The 2020 Pharmacist Salary Guide - The Happy PharmD (1) collaborates with the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to compile their salary report. Full-time work for pharmacists is considered to be 2,080 hours in a year. The numbers reported do not include non-wage benefits like contributions to retirement plans or health insurance. The report excludes business owners and partners in unincorporated firms. Independent pharmacy owners are not included, but their employees are.

Retail, mail, long-term care, and specialty pharmacy salaries exceeded $123,000. Pharmacists in hospitals have had a greater increase in income than those in outpatient dispensing formats. Pharmacists at physicians’ offices saw their salaries decline for the third straight year in a row. The overall number of pharmacists employed did not grow in 2018. (2018 is the most recent data.)

Hospitals had an increase in the number of pharmacists employed. 25.8% of pharmacists were employed at hospitals in 2018, up from the 23.2% of pharmacists employed at hospitals in 2010.

The number of pharmacists employed in retail, mail, long-term care, and specialty pharmacy has declined. 59.4% of pharmacists were employed in those areas in 2018, down from the 65.2% of pharmacists in 2010.

Pharmacists’ salaries average $42,000 (+51%) higher than healthcare employees overall, who averaged an $82,000 annual salary in 2018. Both pharmacists and healthcare professionals overall saw about a 1.5% salary growth.

According to the Drug Channels report, pharmacy is the 36th most highly paid occupation (moving up from 45th in 2017).

Drug Topics Pharmacist Salaries

Drug Topics also pulls some of their data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and states that overall, pharmacists are well paid, but stressed out. In this section, we’re going to talk not only about salary, but also a bit about stress level, job satisfaction, and workload.

In 2010, 62% reported salaries in the $100,000–$130,000 range. In 2019, 40% reported pay in that range, while 50% reported that they made over $130,000.

The following shows percentages of pharmacists reporting each range of base annual salaries for 2019:

$70,000 or less: 3% reporting this annual salary amount

$70,001–$100,000: 8%

$100,001–$130,000: 40%

$130,001–$150,000: 31%

Over $150,000: 18%

In 2019, 61% of pharmacists reported their stress level increased since 2018. In 2018, 66% reported that their stress levels had increased since 2017. Pay has stayed about the same between 2018–2019.

Pharmacists attributed increased stress level to one or more of the following:

  • Increased work volume: 81% selected this reason
  • Inadequate staff support: 69%
  • Increased pressure from management: 56%
  • Increased paperwork: 45%
  • Negative workplace environment: 33%
  • Lack of training and continuing education: 16%

Two of the greatest stressors reported by pharmacists were quotas for flu shots administered and prescriptions filled as well as concerns that younger/newer and lower-paid pharmacists will take their jobs.

In 2019, 69% of pharmacists reported that their workload had increased over the past year. 24% stated their workload had stayed the same, and 4% reported that their workload had decreased. These numbers have remained relatively consistent since 2016.

30% of employees reported being satisfied with their jobs overall. 9% reported being extremely dissatisfied, 18% reported being extremely satisfied, with the rest falling between. 22% of pharmacists indicated that they were looking for a new position within the next 12 months.

According to Drug Topics, the top ten best states to be a pharmacist are as follows:

1. Minnesota

2. Kentucky

3. Michigan

4. Pennsylvania

5. Iowa (tie with Ohio)

5. Ohio (tied with Iowa)

7. Arizona

8. Illinois (tied with Wisconsin

8. Wisconsin (tied with Illinois)

10. Nebraska

Honestly, I’m not surprised by this list since these states have historically been more difficult to recruit pharmacists (no one wants to live in the MidWest? Come on!). To learn about how these rankings are determined, visit this link. You can also click this link to see the top 10 worst states to be a pharmacist.

Drug Topics reports that government data shows a projection that pharmacist job growth at retail outpatient settings will trail growth of pharmacist jobs at hospitals, physician offices, and other non-retail settings. Pharmacist jobs at non-retail settings are projected to increase 6.9% by 2028. Hospitals and outpatient care centers will see the biggest job growth.

U.S. News & World Report Pharmacist Salaries

The most recent U.S. News & World Report reported the 2018 (most recent data) median salary for pharmacists was $126,120. The highest 25% of pharmacists made $145,870, and the lowest 25% made $111,340 and below.

In 2018, pharmacists earned an average annual salary of $123,670. Other jobs in healthcare earned the following:

Pharmacists ranked #21 in best paying jobs in 2018. (They ranked 20th in 2015.)

Overall, the BLS projected 0% job growth for pharmacists between 2018 and 2028.

Pharmacists have a low unemployment rate of 1.6% (reported in 2018). As a reference, as of February 2020, the overall national unemployment rate was 3.5%. (Note: 3.5% indicates the unemployment rate prior to the 0.9% increase in March 2020 that occurred due to the effects of the COVID-19.)

Pharmacists’ opportunities for advancements and salary were above the average across all the jobs/careers discussed in the report. Unfortunately, that came with an above-average stress level. Pharmacists also have below-average flexibility (when considering work schedule and work-life balance).

The follow states and districts pay pharmacists the highest average annual salary:

  • Alaska ($139,880)
  • California ($139,690)
  • Vermont ($135,420)
  • Maine ($133,050)
  • Wisconsin ($132,400)

Notice that only one of these falls into the Drug Topics report of top 10 ten states to be a pharmacist, indicating that much more goes into the appeal of a pharmacy job than salary alone.


If you’ve made it this far (kudos, my friend), you can see that while pharmacist salary data vary across sources, each source shows that pharmacists’ salaries have remained relatively stable over the past few years—increasing slightly each year—with a higher than average income of low to mid six figures.

If you’re considering pharmacy jobs, be sure to look into not just salary, but also geographic location, industry, and other factors that contribute to what are considered preferable jobs.

We hope that you have found this information insightful and helpful. Thank you for reading!

The 2020 Pharmacist Salary Guide - The Happy PharmD (2024)


The 2020 Pharmacist Salary Guide - The Happy PharmD? › Pharmacist Salary

Which pharmacist has highest salary? ›

We've put together the highest paying pharmacy jobs based on the average national salary (base pay only) in April 2023 data provided by Glassdoor:
  • Oncology pharmacist.
  • Consultant pharmacist. ...
  • Ambulatory care pharmacist. ...
  • Hospital pharmacist. ...
  • Nuclear pharmacist. ...
  • Informatics pharmacist. ...
  • Community pharmacist. ...
  • Compounding pharmacist. ...
Mar 6, 2024

What is the highest pay for a pharmacist? ›

What Is the Highest Paid Pharmacist Specialty? The highest-paid pharmacist job specialties fall into the Chief Pharmacist role, making $190,000 on average.

What is the lowest salary for a pharmacist? ›

$115,000 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $138,200 is the 75th percentile.

Do all pharmacists make 6 figures? ›

Bottom line. A career as a pharmacist can be quite lucrative, depending on where in the country you plan to live. In some of the highest-paying regions, the average salary approaches $170,000 annually. But that's not the case everywhere, and the cost of obtaining a PharmD degree can result in years of student loan debt ...

Why do pharmacists get paid so much? ›

Not only do pharmacists dispense drugs, but they are critical in making sure that prescribed medications are safe for patients. Because of this extensive training and knowledge, pharmacists are compensated with higher-than-average salaries. Most people understand that working as a pharmacist can be a well-paying job.

Which pharma field has the highest salary? ›

11 best-paying jobs in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative. ...
  • Clinical data manager. ...
  • Pharmaceutical outside sales representative. ...
  • Drug manufacturer. ...
  • Research scientist. ...
  • Pharmacy manager. ...
  • Biotechnology consultant. ...
  • Biostatistician.
Apr 18, 2024

What is the best field in pharmacy? ›

Hospital Pharmacy If you have interest in retail pharmacy or clinical trials, then MS pharma or M. Pharm in hospital pharmacy is perfect for you. If you do this course from reputed institute, then you have good scope in clinical trials field. The starting salary may range from 20 to 35 thousand per month.

Do pharmacists go to med school? ›

Do pharmacists go to med school? Medical school and pharmacy school are two different programs, though there is some content overlap. Students who attend and complete medical school earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, while students who attend and complete pharmacy school earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree.

Which state pays the most for pharmacy? ›

Pharmacists earn the highest average salary in California at $151,280. Alaska is second at $146,400, followed by Oregon at $141,440. Below are the average mean annual wages for pharmacists in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to the most recent BLS data available.

Is pharmacy a prestigious career? ›

Pharmacists are well-respected members of an integrated healthcare team. Deciding whether or not to become a pharmacist is a big decision. There's the financial investment to consider, the time commitment, and the potential to affect your work-life balance.

What is the highest level in pharmacy? ›

Program Highlights. The doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree is the highest level of professional education in pharmacy and has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as the sole entry level degree for the profession.

What state pays pharmacists the least? ›

Following North Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma are second and third on the list of the states with the lowest pay for pharmacists. Still, at around $112,000 and $115,000 a year, respectively, both states still offer about $10,000 more annually than North Dakota.

How much do CVS pharmacists make in California? ›

The average Pharmacist base salary at CVS Health is $136K per year.

Where are pharmacists paid the most? ›

Exploring Global Opportunities: The 10 Highest-paying Countries for Pharmacists
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Ireland.
  • Germany.
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Sweden.
  • Canada.
  • Switzerland.
  • United States of America (USA)

What is the highest level of pharmacist? ›

The Pharm. D. is a professional degree similar to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). As a doctorate, it represents the increasing responsibility pharmacists have in health care systems and the high trust Americans have in pharmacists.

Which big pharma pays the most? ›

Last year, Bristol-Myers' median pay stood at $112,174, the highest among all Big Pharmas that have reported such data.

Which pharmacy course is best? ›

It is recommended that students interested in working in a research-based profession or continuing their study in pharmacy acquire a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree. However, a D Pharma course is more appropriate for those seeking entry-level employment in the pharmaceutical business.

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