What Is The Highest Paid Pharmacist? (Best Specialized PharmD Careers)

highest paying pharmacist jobs

If you are looking for a career field that can help you make huge money, you can consider pharmacy. When it comes to choosing any career field, the first and essential thing we check out is scope. It is tough I feel this is one of the biggest mistakes I made at the beginning of my career is not looking at specializations in the Pharmacy Field and instead focusing on retail. Look at all areas and start off with something you will enjoy doing and not just about the money.

Talking about pharmacy, this field is vast. Depending on your skillset and interest, you can pick a particular pharmacy specialty. A trained pharmacist may work in different places. This includes:

  • Hospital pharmacy
  • Clinical pharmacy
  • Community pharmacy
  • Industrial pharmacy
  • Compounding pharmacy
  • Consulting pharmacy
  • Ambulatory care pharmacy
  • Regulatory pharmacy
  • Home care pharmacy
  • Nuclear pharmacy
  • Geriatric pharmacy
  • Pediatric pharmacy
  • Psychiatric pharmacy

If your purpose of becoming a pharmacist is to make more and more money, then it is imperative to select the right specialty. The salary differs from one pharmacy specialty to another. So look closely to make sure the salary matches the interest you will have in that career.

It will not just differ based on the pharmacy specialty you select. It will also vary based on location and other factors.

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PharmacyWeek Survey

To figure out how much pharmacists make and what type of pharmacists make the most money, Pharmacyweek conducted a survey. PharmacyWeek conducts the survey related to salary to get insights into the changes in salary in the field.

In this post, we will talk about PharmacyWeek’s 2015 survey. We will also compare it with the survey of 2014. Here’s the list of hourly rates of various pharmacy job titles according to the survey:

Job Title Hourly Pay Rate +/- From 2014
Staff pharmacist – mail order $56.83 $0.14
Staff pharmacist – satellite $60.57 $3.50
Nuclear pharmacist $66.31 $8.29
Staff pharmacist – retail $58.35 -$0.46
Multiple average $60.88 $1.05
Staff pharmacist – hospital $60.75 $0.63
Clinical pharmacist $62.30 $1.02
Team manager $69.05 $1.76

From the above data, we can see that the salary of all job titles is increased except for retail pharmacists. It is declined by 46 cents. On the flip side, the hourly rate of the satellite, and nuclear pharmacists has improved amazingly.

The location also plays a critical role when it comes to salary. In some locations of the United States, you can make good enough money, while in some states, the salary will be comparatively less. For example, in South Dakota, the average annual salary of a pharmacist is about $113,200, while in California, the average yearly salary of a pharmacist is around $146,900. Yes, that’s quite a big difference.

What is the highest paid pharmacist?

As we have seen, the pharmacy specialty is of different types. It is advisable to select the pharmacy specialty that interests you the most.

Depending on whether you get into the retail, community, nuclear, or any other type of pharmacy, your salary, duties, responsibilities, etc. will vary.

If we talk about the highest-paid pharmacist, nuclear pharmacists are the highest-paid. And, hospital/healthcare systems remain the highest paying job setting.

Talking about the salary of a nuclear pharmacist, it ranges depending on the knowledge, skillset, and experience of the candidate. Apart from these, job location also affects the payout. The average salary of a nuclear pharmacist is about $140,048 per year in the United States. The average hourly rate a nuclear pharmacist can earn in the United States is $67.

Which country pays highest salary to pharmacists?

As we have already discussed, location is the critical factor when it comes to the salary. If you want to get paid highest as a pharmacist, you need to make sure you do the job in the right location. Here are some countries that pay pharmacists the most:

United States

The United States is the highest paying country for pharmacists. The salary further differs based on location in the country. For example, in a place like California, you can expect to earn a comparatively higher salary. The average yearly salary of pharmacists in the United States ranges between $107,000 to $118,000.


The majority of pharmacists in Switzerland have the experience of one to four years. The average annual salary for pharmacists in Switzerland is $83,600.


Canada is another country that pays a high salary to pharmacists. The average annual salary you can expect to make as a pharmacist in Canada is $80,700.

How to make the most money as a pharmacist?

Do you want to make more money as a pharmacist? There are various ways you can make extra money. Here are some best ways:

Take extra shifts

One of the best and easiest ways to make more money as a pharmacist is by taking extra shifts. If extra shifts are available, you can take it and make money. Taking extra shifts is not for community pharmacists; it is for those working in hospitals and health systems.

Get another certification

Another fantastic way to give a boost to your pharmacy career and also to your earnings is by getting another certification. Getting another certification or credential is the best way to promote your additional qualifications and training. Many employers prefer hiring candidates with a particular certification and also give a salary boost to them.

Medical writing

As a pharmacist, you already have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the filed. There’s a good potential of making money as a medical writer as healthcare companies hire writers to educate their clients. You can get into medical writing and start making extra money.

Become a lecturer

If you have good enough knowledge and experience in the pharmacy field, you may become eligible for teaching at a pharmacy school or any online program.

Create a pharmacy blog

This method may take a bit longer to start making money. Once you implement everything correctly, your blog can begin to grow faster. In your pharmacy blog, you will be sharing all the information, knowledge, and experience you have regarding the field.

What Pharmacy Path Leads To The Most Financial Benefits?

We curated information from a number of different forums from real current and past pharmacy students to get their opinions on this matter so you don’t only have to take our word for it.

The only information we changed was the spelling/grammar where needed.

Real Student Feedback

1. PumpkinSmasher “Own your own Pharmacy” – 

Pharmacy ownership of a few locations can be lucrative but this is a small niche and takes the right person to make it happen and have the capital to start.

Pharmacy director of hospital or managed care system can yield 175 to 250k/year depending on the system. Not anyone can successfully perform well in this position.

You are not going to get rich as a pharmacist in the majority of cases, many subspecialist physicians can pull down 350k and up and up.

You will have the opportunity to make a good living depending on your financial acumen, debt, dual income couple and where you choose to live.

2. Lord999 “Government for best retirement” – 

Entry-level: Industry, particularly marketing or rural desperate retail, management consultants (Accenture, McKinsey)
Mid-career: Industry lead (VP in some companies, sub-VP in others), DoP of a hospital
Late career: Industry VP, consultants, FACHE C-Suite hospital personnel (DoP is not the end, Hospital CEO is quite obtainable for most DoP’s if they work at it), endowed Professor (the rank above Professor usually called Regent Professor or University Professor or xxx Professor like the new Epic Professor of Informatics which apparently will be one of the new positions at Wisconsin), corporate chain retail if they can make it to retirement.

Industry is the most reliable for high salary, high payoff, but has a really hard survival instinct. Pharmacy ownership has been extremely variable, but anyone who can really build pharmacies can easily get the high payoffs.

Government has never been and never will be the high paying or highest paying, but it has a different outcome, least amount of risky work for the pay you get. Some people (me) like that option a lot more.

And while everyone thinks that academia is where you can chase suits or skirts, you’ve never heard of Eli Lilly or Genentech parties in industry. Those guys and gals, really know how to get down and have real competitive streaks for hottest bods.

3. ZpackSux “Search around plenty of options” –

My previous DOP position now pays $150,000 per year + bonus. Of course I wasn’t making that 3 years ago.

Some of my counterparts (DOP) at larger hospitals (700 bed hospital) are at $160,000 per year.

The 2 big hospitals in my area (over 1000 beds), the DOPs make $180,000 per year.

The regional Director of Pharmacy for a company I worked for are at $150,000 base + 40% bonus. The VP of Pharmacy was is at $180,000 + 60% bonus.

Then there are local pharmacy owners at $300,000 +

Look at the owners of Walgreen, CVS, etc..and see how much those pharmacists make.

4. Julia403 “Depends on city and state” – From what my friends (who just graduated from pharmacy school this past may) told me, all of the larger cities in Texas (Dallas, Houston, Austin) offered them between $100k to $110k/yr starting salaries in retail. I have a friend who accepted a job in Brownsville (in the valley) for $124k/yr starting. Here in TX it seems that the highest retail salaries are offered in the smaller cities where the demand for pharmacists is higher bc not many people want to live there (i.e. El Paso & the valley).

5. Karm12 “Industry hands down” – Pharmacists in industry have high salaries and more potential for growth within the company. These jobs are more difficult to get and generally require some form of advanced training through residency or a fellowship.

6. WVUPHarm2007 “Dean” – Dean of a pharmacy school. We’re talking $200,000+ potential.

7. Zetroy2012 “Self Employed” –

This is an easy question to answer.

Highest paid pharmacist are usually self employed pharmacists who own their pharmacy or pharmacies.

Dean of Pharmacy school…how many are there…about 100 or so? Most of them are probably non practicing pharmacists…and also have PhD.

8. Doctor M “Re-invest profit into other avenues” – own your own store…get a niche…had to work hard in the beginning, but hired another pharmacist, my partner and I work somewhere between 25-36 hrs weekly…pay ourselves what you make at retail but have money in the bank for the business…reinvesting over half our potential salaries to grow. so, 200k+ filling 1000 rxs weekly and now working 25-36 hrs weekly….pretty sweet deal if you ask me 🙂

9. PharmdinFL “Quality over Quantity” –

Also consider the quality of life besides just the salary. I know I get paid less than a lot of places (I work for the government), but I get 10 paid federal holidays each year (and we’re closed, so that’s the best part to me because I’m paid to stay at home – love it!!). I earn 4 hours of annual leave every 2 weeks for the first 3 years (13 days of annual leave per year) and then it bumps up to 6 hours every 2 weeks after 3 years.

I also have a rare Mon-Fri, 8-4:30 pm job with a 30 minute lunch and two-15 minute breaks every day. I can also call in sick and not worry that someone will try to convince me why I NEED to come into work. I don’t NEED to be anywhere but home when I’m sick!

So basically what I’m saying is – look at the overall picture. Don’t be blinded by the $$!!

10. Doktor_Dud3 “Make a move for more pay” – I’ve thought about that once I graduate. It sounds pretty fun. If you can find something in Anchorage or Fairbanks you wouldn’t be very bad off. Cost of living in Anchorage is comparable to the lower 48. Climate in Anchorage also isn’t as extreme as it’s made out to be. I honestly would seriously consider working in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Fairbanks is more expensive, from what I’ve heard, and also sees colder winters. As of now my plan is to work hospital or retail in a rural part of my state, an area similar to where I grew up.

Final Thoughts

Pharmacy is a broad field. Your salary as a pharmacist will differ based on various factors like location, skills, experience, knowledge, and, most importantly, your pharmacy specialty. Among different pharmacy specialties, nuclear pharmacy is the highest paying.

Your career should peak your interest in the day to day activities along with the pay. So I would look to compromise a bit on sacrificing some pay for a much more personally interesting job. Also something else to look at especially with Retail is you may start out at a great pay, but the daily stress and endless pushes to get things done with less may happen. Try to look for a career that allows for some growth with a combination of continuing your educations along with merit raises that don’t peak. If you are in this for the long haul you need to take the steps that will make this career rewarding for the long haul.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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