Pharmacist Salary Trends

Pharmacist Salary Trends Impacting Pharmacy Staffing:

Being in the Pharmacy staffing business for over 27 years now as the owner and President of HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing has obviously lead to the topic of a pharmacist’s salary during discussions with clients and pharmacists. In a recent blog post regarding pharmacist salaries, we listed the top and bottom 25 US cities as rated by their average annual pharmacist salary. However, a recent article in the Australian Pharmacy News regrading pharmacists’ salary trends in Australia leads to some interesting observations worthy of further discussion. Although our focus on pharmacy staffing is concentrated geographically on the Southeastern United States (primarily Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina), our pharmacy recruitment and permanent placement division is nationally renowned for placing pharmacists in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico.

The trends seen in Australia regarding pharmacist salaries –

Before comparing statistical information between pharmacists in Australia and the United States, we must first point out that it will never be “apples to apples” due to numerous statistical factors (who remembers studying statistics in their college days?). The point is that the trends noted may be very similar when drawing any conclusions as they may relate to the future of pharmacy salaries and how they translate into the future of pharmacy staffing opportunities. We must always keep in mind that not only is Australia roughly 9,500 miles away, but it’s population is less than a tenth of that of the USA (in 2015 there were approximately 321 million people in the US versus 24 million residents of Australia).
In the United States according to statistics provided in 2014 by the US Department of Labor there were approximately 300,000 pharmacist jobs with an annual median pay of $121,500. In Australia in 2016 according to the Pharmacy Board of Australia, there were a total of 30,364 pharmacist jobs. The average pay for a pharmacist was $84,000 annually. The disparity in annual salaries is not the important point. What is important to note is the fact that the annual salary for a pharmacist in Australia was 0.8% higher than it was in mid-2015. Compare that to the annual average salary for a pharmacist in the US where the salary growth rate was actually stagnant nationally (a “paltry” increase of 0.1%). This finding is being disputed however by a recent article in the Australian Pharmacy Times. According to their findings, the average pharmacist’s pay actually decreased by 1.7% in 2015 when compared to 2014 (using ATO figures based on the average annual taxable income for 10,556 female and 5799 male pharmacists).
Regardless of the actual numbers, compare this to what was happening over the previous ten year period. A decade ago pharmacist salaries were increasing at a rate estimated to be over 10% (and up to 14% if you believe some sources).

The Cause of the “Salary Slow-Down” –

The primary cause is obviously “supply and demand”. In both the United States and Australia the number of new pharmacy graduates has “exploded” due to the significant increase in the number of Pharmacy schools that offer a degree in Pharmacy. In 1987 a total of 72 pharmacy schools existed in the US. In 2014, according to the AACP (American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy) there were 130 accredited pharmacy colleges. In the case of Australia it is even more dramatic as related to the increase in schools of pharmacy and pharmacy graduates. The number of pharmacy degree programs in Australia has increased from 6 in 1997 to 25 in 2015. Pharmacy graduate numbers have increased by a “staggering” 250%.

The Solution –

The result of all of the above discussion is the fact that by 2020 it is estimated that the number of pharmacists will outnumber the total number of pharmacy jobs available in the United States. Additionally, the result will be a period of salary “stagnation and reductions” that many experts predict will last for 3 – 5 years (until growth and expansion once again catch up to tip the balance of supply and demand back in the pharmacist’s favor).
One other factor that is coming into play is the national shift in the demand from retail pharmacy jobs to hospital pharmacist positions. Although the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) predicts a 3% growth by 2024 in the number of pharmacist jobs, the outlook in retail pharmacist positions in not very encouraging. In fact, the BLS actually is forecasting that retail pharmacy jobs will decrease by roughly 1% (with a projected decrease of up to 7,000 fewer retail positions for pharmacists nationally).
The solution is to take action now. Plan for the future by talking to some experts in the pharmacy staffing industry who have the experience to advise and coach you regarding the changes in the pharmacy job market as they may relate to YOU. Keep up with your “competition” and be prepared for the future situation of more pharmacists than jobs and the shift away from retail positions.
In our next blog post we will share some tips to assist you if you decide that a change in your “career game plan” is perhaps necessary.

In the meantime, feel free to contact us here at HCC. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself and meet us. No matter the setting a pharmacist is looking to work in, HCC is nationally renowned for a history of matching the right pharmacist to the right employer and job in every type of situation. Owned and operated by pharmacists for over 27 years now, HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing is recognized as a national leader in the pharmacy staffing, recruiting and placement arena. Call us today at 800.642.1652, or contact us online to meet us and start a discussion on how we may be able to help you.


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