Pharmacists undergo advanced education and rigorous training to safely deliver drugs to patients and help them use those drugs safely. They are paid high wages to match their specialized training. A travelling pharmacist can earn even higher wages by being willing to take on temporary assignments in areas that can't fill the local demand from the local workforce.
Pharmacists earn high wages as compared to the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for pharmacists was $111,570 in 2010. The Middle 50 percent earned between $98,810 and $125,740. Travelling pharmacists often receive a premium for their trouble, placing their earnings in the top half of the industry: $111,000 to $139,000 per year.
California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania had the highest demand for pharmacists overall in 2010, according to the BLS. The highest wages for pharmacists were paid in Maine, California, Alaska, Alabama and Vermont. California is on both lists, making it a good target for a travelling pharmacist looking for work.
According to the BLS, the highest demand for pharmacists is in health and personal care stores, hospitals, grocery stores, department stores and general merchandise stores. The highest paying industries are residential treatment facilities, consulting services, physicians' offices, general merchandise stores and healthcare services. Of these, general merchandise stores are the most likely to hire travelling, temporary help.
Travelling pharmacists can usually negotiate for expense reimbursement while on a remote assignment -- including travel costs, lodging and a per-diem, which can represent a significant portion of a pharmacist's living expenses, making her profit from a travel assignment even higher than if she had been living at home.
The BLS predicts that pharmacists' job opportunities will increase at 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is over double the 8 percent anticipated for U.S. jobs as a whole during that period. They attribute this strong growth trend to the steady increase in the median age of the U.S. population. Older people need more drugs, and thus need more professionals to help get those drugs to them.