Medicines and drugs play a vital role in maintaining and improving the health of patients. While physicians prescribe medications, pharmacists are the medical professionals who make them available to patients. They may also offer advice to customers who do not have a prescription, give information concerning potential side effects, and advise other health practitioners on prescriptions and dosages. Pharmacists also administer billing procedures. A pharmacist's salary will be affected by factors such as location and employer type.
In May 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a national survey of employment. It collated wage data from 267,860 individuals working as pharmacists throughout the United States. It calculated that the average yearly salary for the occupation was $106,630. This tallies with the figure published by salary analysis website PayScale.com in 2011. It placed the average wage for a pharmacist at between $81,272 and $113,186, dependent upon bonuses, profit sharing and commission.
Salary by Industry
A pharmacist is likely to receive differing levels of pay depending upon which sector of the health-care industry she works in. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists residential mental retardation, mental health and substance abuse facilities as among the best-paying sectors, with an average of $114,580, alongside insurance carriers, at $111,390. Health and personal care stores -- pharmacies, essentially -- paid an average of $107,810, while general medical and surgical hospitals were listed at $106,210.
Salary by Geography
Pay comparison website SalaryExpert.com investigated pharmacist salaries in some major American cities. It found that Orlando, Florida, and Dallas, Texas, were among the locations in which a practitioner was likely to receive the best wages, averaging $128,240 and $120,472, respectively. In contrast, Boston, Massachusetts was listed at $104,786. The Bureau of Labor Statistics listed California and Maine as the states in which, across all industry sectors, pharmacist salaries were the highest, at $117,080 and $115,760, respectively, while in North Dakota the average was $90,610.
The bureau predicts that employment opportunities for pharmacists will grow by approximately 17 percent in the decade from 2008 to 2018. This is 4 percent higher than the top estimate for the country as a whole, expected to grow by between 7 and 13 percent during the same period. The aging of the American population, with the attendant increase in prescription drug use, will be the spur for this growth, as will the increased role in patient care required of pharmacists. As a result, salaries for the occupation should remain very attractive, particularly because the bureau expects there to be more vacancies in the field than suitable candidates to fill them.