Survey Results Highlight Value of Experience, Certifications for Pharmacist Salaries

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Although education and training have historically been considered the primary factors influencing pay, the survey results challenge this notion.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for pharmacists is projected to grow 3% from 2022 to 2032, which is about as fast as the average for all other occupations. Despite this average growth, the profession of pharmacy is predicted to have more pharmacists than available jobs for the next several years.1 The need for pharmacists working on health care teams and in non-dispensing roles will produce the expected job growth, with a reduction of pharmacists working in traditional retail environments.2 This underscores the need for pharmacists to understand differences in payment as they make practice area shifts.

As pharmacists transition to new roles, they often seek data to help in the evaluation of the compensation offered or requested. To provide perspective for these situations, we completed a survey in the Pharmacist Moms Group (PhMG) Facebook group to determine salary and compensation trends for pharmacists in the United States. The survey was completed by 3251 female pharmacists.

Image credit: Andrey Popov - stock.adobe.com

Image credit: Andrey Popov - stock.adobe.com

All respondents were women, and the majority of respondents were working in chain retail pharmacies (N=840, 35.73%). The second largest group of respondents were working in non-profit or not-for-profit hospitals (N=362, 15.4%). Despite the survey encompassing 20 different pharmacy practice areas, it is worth noting that 108 (4.59%) respondents chose "other" as their practice setting, highlighting the growing diversity within the profession and the increasing interest in non-traditional practice.

Although education and training have historically been considered the primary factors influencing pay, our survey results challenge this notion. The median pay for those with a doctorate degree in pharmacy (PharmD) was just $1,360 more per year than the median pay of $138,000 per year for those with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy (BS). This data highlights that in the current job market, there are many factors other than education that influence pharmacist compensation.

Other factors that can affect a pharmacist’s salary include:

  • Experience: Pharmacists with more experience typically earn more than those with less experience (see Table 1), but our survey data showed that experience did not have as much of an impact after about 10 years.
  • Location: Pharmacists in urban areas typically earn more than those in rural areas. Median pay was reported as $140,980 for urban, $139,000 for suburban, and $136,240 for rural areas.
  • Specialty: Pharmacists who specialize in certain areas, such as oncology, pediatrics, or industry, typically earn more than those who work in general practice.
  • Certifications: Pharmacists who have additional certifications, such as from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS), Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist (BCMAS), diabetes care, medication therapy management, etc., typically earn more than those who do not. Our survey showed that pharmacists who complete additional training have higher median pay and higher satisfaction with their overall compensation package.
    • Median pay was reported as $143,520 to $156,000 for those with additional training and $136,240 for those with no additional training.
Table 1: Median Pay Based on Years of Experience

Table 1: Median Pay Based on Years of Experience

Median pay was calculated based on responses for different areas of pharmacy and are listed in Table 2.

Many women may hesitate to apply for positions if they do not meet all the required qualifications, such as a residency, fellowship, or board certification.3 Notably, our survey reveals that the majority of respondents do not possess supplementary credentials, except for specific practice settings. Among professionals in academia (88%), medical writing (71%), medical science liaison roles (62.5%), inpatient specialty positions (59.7%), and ambulatory care roles (58.8%), residency or fellowship training was more prevalent. Similarly, in academia (72%), inpatient specialty (69.3%), and ambulatory care (56.5%), individuals with BPS certification outnumbered those without it. Medical science liaisons also leaned toward having BCMAS certification other than BPS (58.3%) rather than not having any certification.

However, it is important to note that the remaining practice areas, including closed-door dispensing, consulting, federal positions, hospital roles, informatics, insurance/pharmacy benefit manager, outpatient specialty, regulatory positions, research, retail, state roles, and veterinary pharmacy, had fewer than half of the respondents with residency or fellowship training, BPS or BCMAS certification, or other certification(s). While landing a job without additional training is possible, our survey did show that additional certification(s) or residency/fellowship training can increase compensation.

Total compensation for jobs includes more than just pay, so all participants were asked about satisfaction with their total compensation package, including pay plus benefits. This was ranked by each participant on a scale of 0 to 10 (not satisfied to completely satisfied). The average among all participants was 7.With additional training, the average compensation satisfaction was increased from 7.3 to 7.92 on a scale of 0 to 10. With no additional training, the average compensation satisfaction was lower than overall satisfaction at 6.81 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Table 2

Table 2

References

1. Lebovitz L, Rudolph M. Update on Pharmacist Workforce Data and Thoughts on How to Manage the Oversupply. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(10):ajpe7889. doi:10.5688/ajpe7889.

2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pharmacist Occupational Outlook Handbook. Updated September 6, 2023. Accessed September 6, 2023. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm

3. Ignatova M. How Women Find Jobs: Gender Report. LinkedIn Talent Blog. March 5, 2019. Accessed September 6, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-acquisition/how-women-find-jobs-gender-report

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