Median pay for pharmacists was $116,670 in 2012, ranging between $89,280 and $145,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This represented more than three times the national average for all professions. Becoming a pharmacist is a competitive process, requiring students to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and pass two comprehensive exams to become licensed. In 2012, there were 61,275 first-year pharmacy students, out of 392,160 applicants, according to American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
The highest-paid pharmacists in 2012 worked for pharmaceutical companies, earning a mean hourly wage of $59.46, or $123,680 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this industry, pharmacists create prescription drugs and other health products and are involved in marketing and research. Some become medical services representatives or executives. The pharmaceutical industry represents a mere fraction of employment of pharmacists: .09 percent, or 240 employees, states the BLS.
In 2012, pharmacists employed by office administrative services earned a mean wage of $59.41 per hour, or $123,580 a year, reports the BLS. These pharmacists perform supervisory duties for governmental and non-governmental administrative offices, such as those that oversee food and drug safety or provide veteran benefits. The industry employed just 140 pharmacists in 2012.
The retail sector employed over 177,000 pharmacists in 2012, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health and personal care stores employed the most, paying $56.24 per hour, or $116,980 annually. Grocery stores paid $53.38 per hour, $113,180 a year; department stores paid $54.47 per hour, $113,290 a year; and other general merchandise stores paid $59.04 per hour, $122,810 a year.
In 2012, over 68,000 pharmacists were employed by medical centers. Of these, general medical and surgical hospitals employed the most pharmacists, 61,460, and paid $54.41 per hour, $113,180 a year. Physician offices paid $57.84 per hour, $120,310 a year; outpatient care centers paid $57.33 per hour, $119,250 a year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following top-paying states for pharmacists in 2012: Alaska, $62.10 per hour, $129,170 a year; Maine, $61.55 per hour; $128,030 a year; California, $60.48 per hour, $125,800 a year; Vermont, $60.35 per hour, $125,520 a year; and Delaware, $58.57 per hour, $121,830 a year.