Why a Pharmacy Degree Makes Sense Financially

A new study examined the economic value of a pharmacy education and career, and the results were promising for students pursuing pharmacy.

A new study examined the economic value of a pharmacy education and career, and the results were promising for students pursuing pharmacy.

The researchers considered education costs, including student loans, and saw how students fared over several career paths: students who were immediately employed, those who had a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biology and a job, students who worked as a pharmacist but did not get residency training, and pharmacists who had completed 1 to 2 years of residency training.

They found that pharmacy students earn $5.66 million to $6.29 million over their careers. This is about 3.15 times more than high school graduates, and around 1.6 times more than students who just receive a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry.

Another finding from the study was that pharmacy students who did 3 years of pre-pharmacy education and then attended a public pharmacy school tended to have the highest career earnings.

Students who attended public pharmacy schools earned around $168,000 to $192,000 more than students who went to a private school and pursued the same pharmacy career.

Community pharmacists were determined to have the highest net career earnings.

Meanwhile, those who underwent postgraduate year 1 residency training in hospitals had greater earnings than those who immediately started working in a hospital post-graduation.

“[N]et career earnings is only one factor to consider when selecting an occupation, or even when selecting a specific practice setting within pharmacy,” the researchers stated. “Thus, selecting a career path should be driven by one’s passion, skill sets, competencies, and recognition of what choice will result in general life and work satisfaction.”

The researchers’ interest in the subject stemmed from recent concerns that the costs of health professional education are not sustainable, and students continue to suffer from school debt.

There was also huge boom in the number of pharmacy schools between 2000 and 2012, which led to more pharmacy school graduates competing with each other for jobs.

However, there is some data to back up pursuing a job in pharmacy. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 14% growth in the pharmacy profession between 2012 and 2022. Some of the reasons for this growth include an older population, new drugs, and a more complex health care system.

In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates the national need for pharmacists will increase by 1.4% annually through 2030.

Also, as long as salaries stay high and jobs are available, the value of the pharmacy education will remain high. Currently, the unemployment rate of pharmacists (3%) is lower than the national average (5.9%).

The Pharmacist Aggregate Demand Index also suggests a favorable future for new pharmacists.

The study authors cautioned that this information not be used to predict future earnings, since the models were based on current assumptions and could change.

“Nevertheless, the findings demonstrate investment in a pharmacy education yields favorable financial return,” the study authors concluded.