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Pay & Salary

How to Increase Your Income as a Pharmacist

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Pharmacist Skills that will Boost Your PayPharmacist Career Path Choices that will Boost Your PayHow to Get a Raise as a PharmacistHow to Get A New, Higher-Paying JobLearn More!

Guide Overview

A Guide to Getting Paid More as a Pharmacist

The pharmacy profession is one interesting place to be right now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for pharmacists is expected to grow by 6 percent from 2016 until 2026. Much of this growth will come from increased demand for pharmacists in hospitals and clinics, who will need more pharmacists to oversee giving out medication and provide patient care. A rise in chronic diseases such as diabetes will also require the work of pharmacists to regularly provide medications. In addition, as the baby boomer generation ages, an increased number of older members of the population will require medications and medical attention. At the same time, though, some pharmacists may see decreased opportunities for employment as online sales of pharmaceutical increase. So, how can these changes in healthcare be leveraged to boost your pay and make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve? Here we present what some steps you can take to make sure you have all the right ingredients for a high-paying job as a pharmacist.

Pharmacist Skills that will Boost Your Pay

DNA testing is becoming an increasingly hot field within healthcare, and training on DNA sequencing can give pharmacists a boost as this field grows in the future. “In a couple of years, whole-genome sequencing will become mainstream clinical practice… it will provide even more patient-specific data, on which diagnosis and treatment choices are made,” said Ellen Brennan-Rist, a UK-based pharmacist and genomics advocate, in a recent interview. “As pharmacists, there will [also] be opportunities to be more involved with the genomic-related research and support patients through genetic counseling and pharmacogenomics-related advice,” added Emma Groves, another UK pharmacist. Increased use of DNA testing will allow healthcare providers to improve medication safety and efficacy. Pharmacists versed in these methods can offer these services, as well as interpreting tests and designing improved treatment plans, for higher fees.

If you enjoy public speaking, or if you have a niche specialty within the field of pharmacology, teaching workshops is a good way to supplement your income and spread knowledge in the field. Once you have a workshop designed, you can easily replicate it in different areas you travel to, as long as there’s a crowd to book seats. Workshop topics can range from anything to DNA sequencing to patient-pharmacist interactions – as long as you think other pharmacists will be interested and have something to learn from you, then you are good to go. Speaking at universities or schools is another option in this vein.  

There are also a number of area-specific certifications that you can choose between to boost your earnings as a pharmacist and get an edge of the job market. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties, for example, offers pharmacists the opportunity to become certified in areas such as oncology, ambulatory care, nutrition support, compounded sterile preparations, psychiatric pharmacy, and more. The BPS website has more information on what it takes to become board certified, and more about the benefits it can incur.

Pharmacist Career Path Choices that will Boost Your Pay

Many pharmacists boost their pay by offering to consult in medication therapy management, often abbreviated as MTM. This is a service provided by a pharmacist that is designed to help people gain more knowledge and understanding of their own health conditions, and the medications needed to treat them. This includes making sure that the patient is taking the medications they were prescribed, ensuring that the patient is following health and wellness guidelines, and keeping close track of any problems or issues that arise in relation to the medications. Small, independent pharmacies, in particular, may need consulting on MTM services, as well as physician groups and individual patients.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paying work environment for pharmacists in 2018 was in general merchandise stores, at a yearly salary of $131,460. Close behind was food and beverage stores, where pharmacists earned a median of $130,140. In state, local, and private hospitals, pharmacists earned a median of $127,330, while pharmacies and drug stores paid the least, with a median yearly salary of $124,760. However, the majority of pharmacists worked in pharmacies and drug stores in 2016, encompassing 43 percent of all pharmacists in the US. Close behind were state, local, and private hospitals, where 25 percent of pharmacists work.  It’s worth taking a look at how the environment you choose to work in affects your earning potential.

Some pharmacists also choose to go into the pharmaceutical industry, where they help develop medications, research the effects of existing medications, and design guidelines for the medications that their company manufactures. Other areas of pharmacy that the BLS has identified as high-paying are outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, and scientific and technical services.

How to Get a Raise as a Pharmacist

When you’re a pharmacist, location matters. If you’re geographically flexible and have the ability to pick up and move elsewhere, it can be worth looking at the options for higher pay in other states. The highest-paying state for pharmacists was Alaska, with an annual mean wage in 2018 of $139,880. Close behind was California, with an annual mean wage of $139,690. The other top three highest-paying states for pharmacists were Vermont, Maine, and Wisconsin. If you want to get super location-specific, the highest pay in 2018 for pharmacists could be found in Tyler, Texas, where the annual mean wage came in at $178,870.

Wherever you work as a pharmacist, there are almost always opportunities for advancement. For example, you may go from being a staff pharmacist to a manager in the pharmacy that you work in. Some pharmacists choose to open their own pharmacies. While this can be challenging and is not guaranteed always to succeed, opening a sustainably operating pharmacy can ultimately be a huge boon for your income. Find more in this thorough article on what it takes to start a profitable pharmacy from scratch.

How to Get A New, Higher-Paying Job

While working as a pharmacist can be a profitable, lucrative career, there are many options within the field of healthcare that can present even more lucrative employment opportunities. While generally these professions require additional schooling, the long-term earning potential of these professions can easily justify costs. In addition, as a pharmacist, your existing medical background will make it easier to excel in these areas. Here are a few additional professions with high earning potential:


Mean annual wage: $174,790

Degrees required: Master’s degree


Mean annual wage: $183,240

Degrees required: Doctoral degree


Mean annual wage: $175,840

Degrees required: Doctoral degree

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