U.S. News & World Report Again Ranks Pharmacist Among Top Jobs

Pharmacist ranked third among all professions for the second year in a row based on strong job growth prospects and good pay.

Pharmacist ranked third among all professions for the second year in a row based on strong job growth prospects and good pay.

Pharmacist is the third-best profession in the United States, according to newly released rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

“Even during a tough job market, the unique mix of medical knowledge and people skills required to run a pharmacy counter remain in demand,” notes U.S. News, which has partnered with Pharmacy Times for the last 2 years to release a ranking of pharmacists’ top recommendations for more than 1000 OTC products.

In its profile of the pharmacist profession, U.S. News recognizes that hiring for pharmacists has slowed somewhat in recent years, but adds that an aging population on medication regimens that are growing more complex ensures that pharmacists will remain in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for pharmacists will grow 25.4% from 2010 through 2020, adding 69,700 jobs. (There are currently 272,320 pharmacists in the United States working in settings ranging from retail stores to hospitals to mail-order outfits.)

BLS statistics show that pharmacist wages continue to rise as well. In 2011, the median annual salary for pharmacists was $113,390, up from $109,380 in 2010 and $68,390 in 2002. The top 10% of pharmacists in terms of pay make $144,090 per year, while the lowest 10% make $84,490. The best-paid pharmacists generally work in residential mental health or rehabilitation facilities and for consulting services.

U.S. News rates the profession of pharmacist above average in terms of upward mobility and stress level and below average in terms of flexibility. Reviews from pharmacists included in the job profile include one who notes, positively, that the profession offers “predictable days, regular schedule, good pay,” and one who notes, negatively: “It is very difficult to fill more than 600 scripts per day while the amount of help is always being reduced and new tasks are always being added.”

In a blog post on the rankings, Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief, Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, writes: “[M]ost of us probably would agree that the changing role of the pharmacist, including an increasing role in medication therapy management, will create many more opportunities for pharmacists in the rest of the current decade. … Pharmacy education is moving in the right direction in preparing pharmacists for this role. So you can still comfortably recommend pharmacy as a career—and I gladly do.”

The professions that beat out pharmacist for the top rankings were dentist and registered nurse. (However, pharmacists clearly outpace registered nurses in terms of salary, making an average of $47,440 more per year.) Pharmacists also ranked third in the U.S. News 2012 job rankings, when they were bested by registered nurses and software developers.

In addition, pharmacists routinely rank highly in an annual Gallup poll gauging Americans’ perceptions of the honesty and integrity of members of various professions. In the most recent results, released in December 2012, pharmacists placed second among the 22 professions listed, with 75% of respondents expressing a high or very high opinion of their honesty and ethical standards. In the poll, pharmacists beat out physicians, who scored a 70% honesty rating, but fell behind nurses, who led the results with an 85% honesty rating.

Do you agree that pharmacist should rank third on the list of best jobs in the United States? Vote in our poll.

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