Pharmacy Doctorate Salary and Career Outlook

Obtaining a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree opens the door to a career in pharmacy. If you are extremely detail-oriented, have an interest in obtaining a doctoral degree and enjoy helping people live healthier lives, a job in pharmacy may be a good fit for you. But working at a drug store isn’t your only pharmacy doctorate career option. Keep reading to learn more about pharmacy doctorate salaries and careers.

Earn Your Pharm.D. Online From St. John Fisher University

The Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher University is proud to offer a clinically oriented hybrid Pharm.D. program online. The program features a strong foundation in the sciences and experiential learning that prepares you for a career in any pharmacy setting. PCAT scores optional.

  • Experientially focused curriculum — more than 30% experiential
  • Students are prepared to pursue licensure 
  • ACPE-Accredited and NYSED-Approved


What Can You Do With a Pharmacy Doctoral Degree?

Earning a pharmacy degree prepares you to work as a pharmacist. Though PharmD jobs vary, they likely have some similar job functions. Some common duties of a pharmacist may include:

  • Filling prescriptions for patients, checking the doctor’s instructions and making sure the patient won’t experience dangerous interactions between their medications
  • Educating patients about the safe and appropriate use of their prescriptions
  • Advising patients about over-the-counter medications, weight-loss strategies, stress management and more
  • Monitoring the work of pharmacist trainees, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants
  • Maintaining meticulous records

In most states, people who become pharmacists can also administer vaccinations. Some pharmacists may own the pharmacies they work at or manage chain pharmacies. These pharmacy doctorate careers also involve administrative tasks, such as scheduling personnel and managing inventory.

Becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy means obtaining a PharmD degree. It’s a good idea to choose a PharmD program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). This denotes a program that offers the training necessary to sit for the required licensing examinations and provide sound patient care. There are ACPE-accredited online PharmD programs available, making advancement in pharmacy careers convenient. Pharmacists in all states must be licensed. Specific licensure requirements vary by state but generally involve completing an accredited program and passing the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific test.

What Career Paths are Possible With a Doctorate in Pharmacy?

So where do pharmacists work? While community pharmacies and drug stores are the most common workplace for pharmacists, there are many other pharmacy doctorate career options to consider. Below are some PharmD career options and workplaces you may consider.

Clinical Pharmacy Jobs

Working as a clinical pharmacist gives a pharmacist the opportunity to collaborate with physicians in various clinical settings to provide direct patient care. Patients with chronic conditions, pain management challenges or other complex health problems may take many medications each day. A clinical pharmacist assesses the patient’s needs and devises a pharmacological plan that avoids dangerous drug interactions while helping the patient feel and live better. In this pharmacy doctorate career, you manage the dosage and timing of patients’ medications.

If you’re interested in collaborating with other health care experts and providing direct patient care and communication in a clinical health care setting, working as a clinical pharmacist may be a path worth pursuing. Clinical pharmacists may work at long-term care facilities, pain management clinics, cardiac care centers, family health practices and many other types of patient care locations.

Home Health Care Jobs

Pharmacists working in home health care may provide complex medication therapies to patients in their homes or in places such as assisted living facilities. Home health care pharmacy may involve administering intravenous drugs. In this pharmacy doctorate career, you may also help patients (and possibly relatives or other members of their care team) keep track of their oral medication regimens and dietary supplements.

Because of the travel involved and the complexity of each patient’s care plan, home health pharmacists tend to work with fewer patients than pharmacists in other specialties. Home health care pharmacists may collaborate with hospice organizations, social services agencies, assisted living organizations or home nursing programs to help care for homebound patients.

Geriatric Pharmacy Jobs

Geriatric pharmacists specialize in the care of older adults. Members of the geriatric population often live with multiple health conditions that require medications. Geriatric pharmacists ensure that all those medications don’t cause harm to the patient. The pharmacist may also help the patient and possibly their caregiving team to find ways to keep the patient on their medication schedule throughout the day.

Many geriatric pharmacists work in a long-term care facility, dedicated to serving the medication needs of the population living at a single facility. Others work at acute or ambulatory care centers, coordinating with medical teams to care for geriatric patients. Some PharmD programs offer geriatric pharmacy residencies to prepare candidates for this particular specialty.

Hospital Pharmacy Jobs

Hospital pharmacists work with medical teams to administer patients’ medications safely and effectively. Some in this pharmacy doctorate career may prescribe medications. Otherwise, the pharmacist generally receives a prescription request from a physician and then analyzes the patient’s medical chart to ensure the medications will be safe and effective.

In the hospital setting, a pharmacist closely monitors patients for adverse side effects. Pharmacists may also monitor drug charts for accuracy and clarity. This is especially important to ensure smooth and safe transitions between shifts. A hospital pharmacist may be responsible for keeping inventory and quality testing drug supplies. They may also oversee the work of pharmacy technicians or assistants and pharmacists in training.

Pharmacy Jobs in Government

Another pharmacy doctorate career you may consider is to work as a pharmacist for local, state or federal government organizations. These pharmacy jobs may be administrative, research or clinical positions. Some examples of government pharmacy jobs include working at a municipal health clinic or state Medicaid agency. Working for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a federal position that could take you to one of various VA facilities throughout the country.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency that employs many pharmacists in research, advisory and surveillance positions. Some pharmacist positions at the FDA involve analyzing new drug proposals or tracking approved drugs for effectiveness and safety. Other FDA pharmacists specialize in developing new compounding techniques and performing compounding services, which means combining drugs to tailor medications to patients’ individual needs.

Community Pharmacy

When you think of the word “pharmacist,” you may picture someone filling prescriptions at an independent or chain pharmacy. These are community pharmacists who check doctors’ prescriptions, dispense drugs and may offer advice regarding how to take medications. Community pharmacy is the most common work environment for trained pharmacists, comprising 42% of all employed pharmacists.

For PharmD graduates who want a patient-facing pharmacy doctorate career, community pharmacy may be a good fit. Keep in mind that some pharmacies are open around the clock, which means you could be required to work nights and weekends. As you move into more senior positions, however, you may be able to request specific shift preferences.

Other Jobs in Pharmacy

These are not your only pharmacy doctorate career options. There are other lesser-known opportunities, such as those listed below.

  • Nuclear pharmacy: This is a speciality that oversees the use of radioactive drugs. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) requires specialized training for those seeking a career in nuclear pharmacy. The exam for this specialty covers topics including the safe handling, dispensing, storage and compounding of radiopharmaceuticals.
  • Prison pharmacy: In this pharmacy doctorate career, you may be in charge of medications for an incarcerated population that tends to face more health challenges than the general population. Incarcerated people have high rates of substance abuse problems, chronic diseases, psychiatric conditions and communicable diseases, according to a report published by the American Academy of Family Physicians. These individuals may benefit from a diligent pharmacist’s help.
  • Medical writing: Pharmacists who enjoy writing may also be well suited for a career as a medical writer. Medical writing could include creating sales kits for drug companies, writing articles for medical publications or drafting peer reviews.

How Much Does Someone With a Pharmacy Doctorate Make?

After investing many years of study and thousands of dollars into your PharmD education, you may want the economic payoff to make it all worthwhile. The median annual salary for pharmacists was $128,710 in May 2020, the BLS reports. The bottom 10% of earners made less than $85,210 per year, while the top 10% took home more than $164,980. Where you will land on that PharmD pay scale depends on a variety of factors.

Your pharmacy doctorate salary also depends on where you work. For example, here are the 2020 median annual pharmacist salaries in the top industries in which they worked:

  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $137,820
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private: 131,290
  • Food and beverage stores: 131,200
  • Pharmacies and drug stores: 125,740

What Can Affect Doctor of Pharmacy Salary?

PharmD salaries may vary for several reasons such as your work setting and employer. Your geographic location will also play a part in determining your salary as a pharmacist. When looking at the BLS’ map of annual mean pharmacy wages by state, several states in the middle of the country tend to pay pharmacists the least. Many coastal states have a higher annual mean wage for pharmacists.

The experience you accumulate as a pharmacist may gradually increase your pharmacy doctorate salary as well. Gaining experience could involve taking on more responsibilities or a leadership role. Doing these things may help you make the case for a new job or higher pharmacy doctorate salary when the time comes.

Doctor of Pharmacy Demand Outlook

Overall employment of pharmacists is projected to decline 3% from 2019 to 2029, the BLS reports. This translates to the loss of 10,500 pharmacist positions across the country.

The BLS notes that many of these job losses will be felt at drug stores and independent pharmacies due to an increasing trend to fill prescriptions online or by mail order. Another factor affecting the projected decline in employment is that pharmacy technicians may be completing more duties and tasks that pharmacists once performed.

However, some projected job growth for pharmacists is expected at medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics, the BLS reports. These types of facilities will need pharmacists to oversee medication inventories, prescriptions and distribution to patients.

Discover These Cities for Doctorate in Pharmacy Jobs

Based on national pharmacist wage data from the BLS, many of the highest-paying pharmacist jobs are found in California, a state which also has one of the highest costs of living in the country.

Besides searching for a high pharmacy doctorate salary, another way to search for pharmacy doctorate careers is to look at states that have a high concentration of pharmacist jobs. Below are five metropolitan areas that have the highest concentration of pharmacists jobs, according to the BLS.

CityEmployment per thousand jobs2020 annual mean salary
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA
Fargo, ND-MN
Iowa City, IA
New Bedford, MA
Athens-Clarke County, GA

Explore These States for Pharmacy Doctorate Jobs

Many of the top-paying states for pharmacist jobs, per BLS data, are located along America’s coastlines. If you want to live close to an ocean, or if you are focused on maximizing your pharmacy doctorate salary, the states listed below may provide a good place to start your job search.

StateEmployment per thousand jobs2020 annual mean salary

Alternatively, states with the highest concentration of pharmacist jobs include Rhode Island, Montana, West Virginia, Arizona and North Dakota, according to BLS data.

Alternative Pharmacy Jobs

Not sure if a PharmD program is right for you? You may consider becoming a pharmacy assistant or researching alternative jobs in health care.

Online healthcare degree programs may prepare you for career opportunities in public health, health administration, health informatics, nursing and other fields. Explore some of these career options below.

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): Working as an FNP means taking on advanced practice nursing roles. FNPs may diagnose and treat illnesses, and some states allow FNPs to prescribe medications.
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): APRN programs offer numerous specializations, which means you could customize your career in advanced nursing to work in various fields, including pharmacology.
  • Public Health Professional: A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree could qualify you to work in fields including community health, nutrition, or environmental health. MPH courses cover topics such as biostatistics and epidemiology.
  • Healthcare Administrator: If taking on a challenging leadership role is appealing to you, consider pursuing a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree. With this degree, you may consider becoming a government healthcare policy analyst or overseeing the operations of a hospital or network of clinics.
  • Health Informatics Specialist: Do you enjoy analyzing data to solve problems and develop solutions? Then a Master of Health Informatics (MHI) degree might be interesting to you. An MHI may prepare you to create and manage medical records systems to help you analyze system data and uncover trends.

Is a PharmD Career Right for You?

Pharmacists may be a valuable source of information and advice for their patients. By checking prescription orders from multiple doctors, pharmacists may even prevent dangerous drug interactions to protect patients’ safety and health. A pharmacy doctorate career may also involve identifying opportunities to provide more cost-effective therapies, thereby saving the patient money.

If you have a strong desire to help people live healthier, more fulfilling lives, then a PharmD could be the right choice for you. Pursuing this degree usually requires four years of advanced study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Online PharmD degree options may help you reach your goal while you continue to work and care for your family. If that’s of interest to you, consider exploring online PharmD degree programs.

Earn Your Pharm.D. Online From St. John Fisher University

The Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher University is proud to offer a clinically oriented hybrid Pharm.D. program online. The program features a strong foundation in the sciences and experiential learning that prepares you for a career in any pharmacy setting. PCAT scores optional.

  • Experientially focused curriculum — more than 30% experiential
  • Students are prepared to pursue licensure 
  • ACPE-Accredited and NYSED-Approved


Last updated April 2021