How much do pharmacists actually get paid?

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How much do pharmacists actually get paid?
Pharmacists work in a variety of health care settings. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Physicians prescribe drugs but pharmacists are the professionals who actually dispense the medications. They also provide advice and information to customers regarding non-prescription medications, advising on side effects and certain drugs that may be used in conjunction. Pharmacists are versed in the chemical composition of medicines and the laws that regulate drug manufacture and sale. They keep records of drugs dispensed. The salary for the profession depends on where and for whom a pharmacist works.

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Average Pay

In May 2009 the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a survey of salaries in the United States. It calculated that the average annual wage for a pharmacist was £69,309. This is equivalent to a monthly income of £5,775 and hourly pay of £33.3. It roughly corresponds to 2011 figures published by wage analysis websites Indeed.com's £72,800 calculation; Salary.com's £73,784 figure and Payscale.com, which had averages between £52,787 and £73,555, depending on bonuses, commission and profit-sharing.

High and Low

The highest paid 10 per cent of pharmacists earned an average salary greater than £87,288, while their counterparts in the lowest 10 per cent of earners received an average of less than £51,525, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pay by Industry

Most pharmacists worked for health and personal care stores and general medical and surgical hospitals, reports the BLS. The average wages within these sectors was £70,076 and £69,036, respectively. Pharmacist positions in grocery stores paid an average of £68,666, comparable to those in department stores -- £68,328. Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities offered an average of £74,477, while insurance companies paid £72,403.

Pay by Location

The BLS listed California and Maine as the states in which a pharmacist was likely to earn the highest wages, with averages of £76,102 and £75,244, respectively. In contrast, North Dakota was listed at £58,896. Wage comparison website SalaryExpert.com surveyed pharmacist pay rates across major American cities. It found that Orlando, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina were among the most lucrative locations, paying averages of £83,356 and £77,838, respectively. Boston, Massachusetts was listed at an average of £68,110 at the time of publication.

Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment opportunities for pharmacists to increase by approximately 17 per cent between 2008 to 2018. This is faster job growth than that predicted for the country as a whole, which is estimated between 7 and 13 per cent for the same period. Pharmacists are expected to take a more active role in patient care as drugs become more complicated and used with other drugs. Furthermore, an increasingly ageing population will fuel demand.

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