Pharmacists' salaries rise amid better-than-expected profit picture, expert says

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Pharmacists' salaries rose in 2014, up 1.6 percent from the prior year, in conjunction with the pharmacy industry’s better-than-expected profit picture, according to Adam J. Fein, CEO of the Drug Channels Institute.

The average gross salary for pharmacists that work at a retail, mail, and specialty pharmacies was $119,400 in 2014, Fein said in an analysis of the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Pharmacists' salaries at retail, mail, and specialty pharmacies were $43,000 higher than average healthcare salaries,” said Fein, who is also president of Philadelphia-based Pembroke Consulting Inc.

The salary data includes pharmacists that work for chain and independent pharmacies, supermarkets, mass merchants with pharmacies, such as Walmart and Target, and mail pharmacies.

Rising profits continue for the retail drugstore industry. In 2013, the retail drugstore industry’s overall average gross margin exceeded 24 percent, its highest in several years, while gross profit dollars topped $58 billion, according to Fein's analysis of the latest retail trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the third consecutive year, pharmacists at mass merchants had the highest average salaries, earning a full-time average of $123,000. Annual salaries at supermarkets and mail pharmacies were lower.

Pharmacists' employment at mail pharmacies grew, while employment in drugstores and mass merchants dropped. Salary growth for pharmacists at mail pharmacies also grew faster at 4.8 percent than at other outpatient dispensing formats.

Fein said retail, mail, and specialty pharmacies accounted for 63 percent of total U.S. pharmacist employment, which comprised about 291,000 people. Hospitals accounted for an additional 24 percent of pharmacist employment. The remaining 13 percent worked at manufacturers, wholesalers, government agencies, non-hospital healthcare providers, and other organizations.

“These percentages have remained stable over the past few years,” Fein said.

According to research published last month by, total cash compensation for pharmacists can vary between $83,000 and $133,000 annually. Each package generally includes bonuses and profit sharing proceeds, and in some cases, those amounts can reach as high as $10,000. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is the particular firm, followed by the particular city and years of experience.

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Drug Channels Institute 1515 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19102