How much do pharmacists make?

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Pharmacists earn an average of $125,460 annually, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but that number can vary based on your industry, area and experience. Of course, salary potential isn’t the only factor to consider if you’re thinking of becoming a pharmacist — you’ll have to complete at least six years of schooling, which can delay your career and leave you with debt — but it can help sweeten the deal if you’re already interested in this career path.

What’s the starting salary of a pharmacist?

Data from PayScale shows that the average salary of an entry-level pharmacist is currently around $102,000 annually. However, that number could be higher or lower for your specific circumstance; BLS data shows that the bottom 10 percent of pharmacists earn an average of $85,210 a year, and metropolitan areas typically pay more than nonmetropolitan areas regardless of experience.

What’s the average salary of a pharmacist?

The average salary of a pharmacist is $125,460, according to the BLS, but that survey also shows how much annual figures can vary by industry:

  • Health and Personal Care Stores: $122,860.
  • Food and Beverage Stores: $124,120.
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $128,310.
  • Local Government: $133,250.
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories: $134,740.
  • Grantmaking and Giving Services: $142,010.
  • Outpatient Care Centers: $147,130.

Also note that areas with a high cost of living also tend to pay pharmacists more overall. For instance, Santa Barbara-based pharmacists earn an average of $162,540, while pharmacists in Lawrence, Kansas, earn an average of $82,150.

What states pay pharmacists the most?

Location plays a key role in your earning potential. The five highest-paying states for pharmacists, according to the BLS, are:

  • Alaska: $147,040.
  • California: $146,070.
  • Oregon: $136,700.
  • Maine: $134,100.
  • Vermont: $131,910.

Is becoming a pharmacist worth it?

Before you decide to become a pharmacist, it’s crucial to think about how much you’ll earn and how that compares to the cost of your degree. If you find a doctor of pharmacy degree for a reasonable cost and earn a higher-than-average salary, you’ll get a much better return on your investment. If you take on a lot of student loan debt, on the other hand, a large portion of your salary could be taken up by monthly payments for years after you graduate.

Of course, finances also aren’t the only part of your decision. A pharmacy degree is only worth it if you’ll truly enjoy the career path ahead of you; a higher salary isn’t worth it if you aren’t happy with your job. Before you enter this career field, make sure that you have an idea of what you can afford, how much you’ll earn later on and whether the subject matter interests you enough for a lifelong career.

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Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."
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