How Much Money Do Pharmacists Make?

If your doctor has ever prescribed you medication, then you've likely encountered a pharmacist at your grocery store, drug store, or healthcare facility, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to The Balance Careers, these employees are responsible for providing patients with dosage instructions and potential side effect information. Understanding how different medications interact with each other is also important in providing patient care, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Behind the scenes, pharmacists handle medication orders, ensure pharmacies meet regulations, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

Making an informed decision about your career includes knowing the opportunities provided by different professions, including what income you can expect to make. So if you're deciding to make a career change, or still figuring out what you want to pursue, should you consider being a pharmacist? Possibly. Because they dispense prescriptions directly to patients, pharmacists play an important role in the healthcare process. But how much are they paid?

Pharmacists have a median annual income of $124,170

According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for pharmacists in 2021 was $124,170, or $61.81 per hour. When compared to the annual median income for all workers in the same year, which was $45,760, pharmacists are on the higher end of the wage-earning spectrum.

U.S. News compared the average annual salary of pharmacists in 2020 to similar occupations, finding that physicians averaged an income of $218,850 per year, nurses averaged $80,010 per year, and pharmacy technicians averaged $36,450 per year. While pharmacists make less than the average primary care physician, they have a higher median income than the average income for registered nurses and pharmacy technicians.

Of course, earnings will vary depending on things like education and location. For example, in 2020, Alaska, California, and Oregon were the top paying states for pharmacists. Indeed also found that entry-level pharmacists begin with an average pay of $51.44 per hour, while professionals with more than 10 years of experience averaged $63.63 per hour.

Education is a vital part of becoming a pharmacist

As mentioned, pharmacists play an integral role in delivering adequate healthcare to patients, and this is reflected in the amount of schooling necessary for the profession. According to Online Schools Center, a doctoral-level degree is necessary to become a pharmacist. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree, also known as a PharmD, is typically a four-year degree. The prerequisites for this degree can vary by program, as some programs require only two years of undergraduate study while others require a completed bachelor's degree, which typically takes four years.

Although specific license requirements vary by state, The Balanced Careers mentions that all practicing pharmacists must pass an exam from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), which is known as the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). A common requirement is known as the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which is a pharmacy exam regarding the law.

When considering the extensive education required to become a pharmacist, it makes sense that their median annual income is on the higher end of the U.S. wage spectrum.