Are Pharmacists Rich? Learn How They Can Be! - Student Loan Planner (2023)

If you’re considering a career as a pharmacist, you undoubtedly have a passion for health care and counseling patients on prescriptions. But you’d be completely normal if you’ve also wondered to yourself: “Are pharmacists rich?”

The good news is that pharmacists are paid well above the median wages in the United States. But the bad news is that they also tend to end up with a lost of student loans.

So are pharmacists rich? Below, we take a closer look at the average pharmacist’s financial situation to find out. We’ll also see how any pharmacist can become rich by following a few simple steps.

Table of Contents hide

Are pharmacists rich?

How to get rich as a pharmacist

What is a savings rate?

What does “being rich” mean?

Savings rate examples

How to become a rich pharmacist with pharmacy school debt

Are pharmacists rich?

The average pharmacists make around $128,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s a really nice living, but it’s not as much as a general physician (MD) makes and it’s not enough to guarantee becoming rich.

However, income is just a piece of the equation. As we’ll see, you can become rich (i.e. build wealth) with a lower income than what pharmacists makes. On the other hand, many pharmacists have a negative net worth due to massive student loan debt.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the mean student debt for 2020 pharmacy school grads was $179,514. The numbers were even more staggering for private university grads which took out a median debt load of $213,090.

(Video) The 2 Kinds of Pharmacy School Loan Forgiveness | Student Loan Planner

How to get rich as a pharmacist

Here at Student Loan Planner®, we’ve helped hundreds of pharmacists come up with the optimal plan to pay off their student loans. By working one on one, hearing their stories and doing our own research, we’ve found several factors that impact a pharmacist’s ability to build wealth.

I’m going to take you through those important factors in this article and show you how to leverage that nice income to build a lucrative career and get rich as a pharmacist.

1. Choose a pharmacy school that won’t destroy your finances

The first way to become wealthy is to spend only what’s necessary to get your Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD) and not more than you have to in order to earn that nice pharmacist salary. Whether you have the money saved up for school or you have to take out debt, we want to keep the cost to a minimum.

There are 143 schools of pharmacy in the U.S., but not all are created equal. Some cost a bunch more than others without offering any benefit to future pharmacists. If you’re getting the same education, why pay more?

The best option is to choose an in-state school. No matter where you live, you should have plenty of in-state bachelors degree options. And 47 of the 50 states (plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) have pharmacology schools — all but Alaska, Delaware and Vermont. Not to say that all of these in-state schools are the cheapest, but it’s best to explore that first. The expected cost of attendance should be $170,000 or less.

Private schools are in the most expensive category. The cost of attendance is well into the $200,000-plus range, with many in the $250,000 range. Why spend $80,000 more for the same certification and credential? What else could you do with $80,000? I can think of many better ideas. These should be avoided at all costs.

Related: 4 Types of Pharmacy Schools Ranked By How Much They Destroy Your Finances

2. Choose a pharmacy job that pays well

There are a number of different places that those in the pharmaceutical industry can work. For example, a pharmacist can work at a hospital pharmacy, in a big-box retail store, a local pharmacy or even an online pharmacy. Where they work will impact their pay.

According to, pharmacists that work in retail drug stores and grocery stores get paid the most. The average base salary is around $144,000 while a clinical pharmacist makes $127,000. That may not seem like a huge difference, but it’s $17,000 per year. That could be an extra $1,000 per month in take-home pay, depending on the pharmacist’s tax situation. That extra $1,000 of earning potential can go a long way if it’s saved — but we’ll get into that later.

That being said, plenty of pharmacists aren’t working full time. There have been layoffs, and many recent graduates entering the fray, making full-time, good-paying pharmacist jobs even more competitive. If there’s a decision between a lower hourly rate with full-time hours versus a higher hourly rate without being full-time, be sure to do some math to see which one will pay you more money each year.

Finally, don’t forget to pay attention to the average pay for pharmacists in your state. If it’s below average, you may want to consult the BLS database to find a state where pharmacists are more in demand. Currently, California and Texas have the highest employment levels for the pharmacist occupation:

3. Choose the right pharmacy student loan repayment plan

Meet Amber. She’s done everything she can to become a rich pharmacist. She went to a lower-costing school and left with $170,000 in student loans with a 6.5% interest rate. She’s now working at a retail pharmacy full time earning $140,000. Should she get on Pay As You Earn (PAYE), or should she refinance?

Are Pharmacists Rich? Learn How They Can Be! - Student Loan Planner (1)

She makes the smart move to refinanceto a 10-year term at a fixed 5% interest rate. This plan will save her about $111,000 paying back her loans compared to PAYE. That money is hers to keep!

PAYE isn’t even a viable option because her income-driven payments are projected to be high enough to pay off the loan in full in 19 years anyway. She’d be paying back a 6.5% loan over 19 yrs versus a 5% loan over 10 years. That’s where the six-figure savings comes from. Plus, she’d be debt-free in virtually half the time.

If Amber owed $200,000 while making $120,000 or was eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, we’d want to find a better plan for her. It would be a good idea for her to schedule a consult with usif this were this case.

For this example, we’re going to assume that Amber is not working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). However, if she was, it would also be prudent for her to apply for the National Health Service (NHS) Corps Loan Repayment Program (LRP). The LRP program can provide up to $50,000 of repayment assistance over a two-year period.

4. Focus on your savings rate

Amber is in great shape. She kept her loans to a minimum by choosing an in-state school. She chose a high-paying job and is optimizing her student loan repayment. This on its own is pretty awesome.

Ready to boost the financial potential of your pharmacist career to the next level? I know Amber is! It all comes down to one simple factor: Savings rate.

Did you know that savings rate is one of the biggest predictors of whether or not you’ll reach your financial goals? Income is important, but savings rate is even more critical than earnings. We’ve all heard about broke lottery winners. These are people who have won more money than 99.99% will ever have, yet they blow through it. Why? It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you have left over.

Feel like it’s impossible to become a millionaire with six figures of student loan debt? Quite the contrary — it’s extremely possible!

5. Intelligently Purchase Your Home, Possibly with a PharmD Mortgage

You might have heard of a doctor mortgage, but there is actually a special kind of mortgage made exclusively for pharmacists called the PharmD Mortgage.

The PharmD Mortgage allows you to buy a house with a much smaller down payment than with a conventional 20% down mortgage. A PharmD Mortgage also does not charge you PMI, or private mortgage insurance.

If you itemize mortgage interest, then you can borrow more for your house while more aggressively tackling your student loans, which are not tax-deductible.

(Video) Getting Into Pharmacy School Is Now Dangerously Easy | Student Loan Planner

The main thing that matters when buying a home is keeping the purchase price at a reasonable ratio compared to your household income (we suggest no more than 2.5x if you want to be able to retire in your 50s.

If you’re ready to buy your next house, you can check out our quote tool for PharmD Mortgage quotes

What is a savings rate?

Before I go into more detail, let me define “savings rate”. What I mean by “savings rate” is how much money is left over after what is spent. Add student debt payments and retirement plan contributions back to this amount. Then take what’s left over and divide it by income.

For example, Amber’s refinanced student loan payments are about $1,800 per month ($21,600 per year). That’s 15% of her income ($21,600 / $140,000). If she only made payments toward her student loans, we’d consider that to be a 15% savings rate. If she were to do that and save an additional $14,000 (10% more of her income) in a retirement account, we’d call that a 25% savings rate.

What does “being rich” mean?

Next, let me talk about what I mean by being rich. When I say “being rich,” I’m referring to having a substantial net worth. Net worth is what you own of value, including money in savings, retirement, home value, and so forth minus what you owe in debt. Right now, Amber has zero in savings and owes $170,000 in student debt. She has a negative-$170,000 net worth.

The majority of pharmacists might look at this and think that they could never have $1,000,000 and be student debt-free. Not Amber. She knows how to pay off her loans and be a millionaire by the time she’s halfway through her career.

How does she do that? By focusing on her savings rate.

Savings rate examples

We’re making the assumption that the savings rate is first applied to making the student debt payment and that any money left over is invested. We’ll assume a 5% annual return on investment. Not super aggressive nor super conservative.

Let’s start with Amber keeping that 15% savings rate. First, all of that money is going toward her loans. But as her income grows by getting 3% raises each year, she now has money to invest after making her student loan payments.

If Amber has a 15% savings rate and gets 3% raises each year, what would her net worth be over time? In 10 years, she’d have just finished paying off her student debt free and have $62,000 in investments. So, $900,000 in 25 years and over $3,000,000 in 40 years. Sounds pretty good, right?

But what about at a 25% savings rate? In 10 years, she’d have just finished paying off her student debt and have almost $300,000 in investments. Close to $2,000,000 in 25 years and over $6,000,000 in 40 years. That’s amazing!

Let’s go crazy here now. What about at a 40% savings rate? In 10 years, she’d have just finished paying off her student debt and have $650,000 in investments. So, $3,400,000 in 25 years — and yes, $10,000,000 in 40 years. That’s an eight-figure net worth!

OK, OK — a 40% savings rate is a little extreme, especially while you still have a mortgage. But 25% is totally attainable. Not bad to retire with $6,000,000 when starting from a $170,000 hole!

Take a look at this table to see how her net worth could change drastically by increasing her savings rate.

Are Pharmacists Rich? Learn How They Can Be! - Student Loan Planner (2)

This, by the way, doesn’t include any spousal income. If she gets married, these numbers would get even higher with a dual household income.

Even if Amber did everything wrong — including going to an expensive private school, picking an inefficient student loan repayment strategy and taking a low-paying job — the savings rate still makes her a millionaire. It would just take an extra five to 10 years to get there.

How to become a rich pharmacist with pharmacy school debt

After all of the consults and research we’ve done with those in the pharmacist profession, here’s a summary of the four main factors to become a rich pharmacist, even with six figures of pharmacy school debt:

  1. Choose a credible but inexpensive in-state pharmacy school
  2. Take a high-paying, full-time position
  3. Get the optimal student loan plan
  4. Focus on savings rate

The biggest personal finance mistakes we see are the antithesis of these. Earning a good living is not a guarantee of attaining financial freedom. It takes a combination of all four of these factors.

If you make a mistake in one or two of these categories, it’s not the end of the world. Do what’s most in your control. The third and fourth factors are 100% in your grasp and up to you. Take the time to get the optimal student loan planand, at the very least,focus on your savings rate.

Are Pharmacists Rich? Learn How They Can Be! - Student Loan Planner (3)

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Are Pharmacists Rich? Learn How They Can Be! - Student Loan Planner (4) 1 Disclosures

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Are Pharmacists Rich? Learn How They Can Be! - Student Loan Planner (6) 3 Disclosures

$1,000 BONUS3 For $100k or more. $200 for $50k to $99,9993

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(Video) How Much Money do Pharmacists Make?! + Amount of Student Loan Debt Upon Graduation

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Is being a pharmacist worth it financially? ›

As a pharmacist, you can make an excellent living which is one of the top advantages of being a pharmacist. The lowest-paid pharmacist is making somewhere around $112,000 a year. The median salary for a career as a pharmacist is approximately $128,000 a year.

What is the highest paid pharmacist? ›

High Paying Pharmacist Jobs
  • Chief Pharmacist. Salary range: $176,500-$205,000 per year. ...
  • Pharmacometrician. Salary range: $140,500-$162,500 per year. ...
  • Pharmacy Informaticist. Salary range: $57,000-$159,000 per year. ...
  • Pharmaceutical Physician. ...
  • Registered Pharmacist. ...
  • Inpatient Pharmacist. ...
  • Long Term Care Pharmacist. ...
  • Staff Pharmacist.

How to be a millionaire pharmacist? ›

How to become a rich pharmacist with pharmacy school debt
  1. Choose a credible but inexpensive in-state pharmacy school.
  2. Take a high-paying, full-time position.
  3. Get the optimal student loan plan.
  4. Focus on savings rate.
Sep 12, 2019

How can pharmacists make extra money? ›

Here is a list of 26 side hustles you can use your pharmacist skills for:
  • Teaching a college course.
  • Lead continuing education (CE) presentations.
  • Tutoring pharmaceutical students.
  • Producing videos.
  • Medical writing.
  • Technical writing.
  • Medical transcription.
  • Consulting.
Jun 24, 2022

Do pharmacists have a lot of debt? ›

Attending pharmacy school can lead to a lucrative career filled with many job options. But the cost of pharmacy school is no joke. According to a 2022 report from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), student loans for pharmacists amount to an average of $170,444.

What is the lowest paid pharmacist? ›

How Much Does a Pharmacist Make? Pharmacists made a median salary of $128,570 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $143,600 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $121,070.

Which state pays pharmacists the most? ›

Pharmacist Salary By State: Highest-Paid Pharmacists by State [2023] Research Summary. After extensive research by the Zippia data science team, we identified these details of pharmacist salary by state for the United States: California has the highest pharmacist salary of $161,597.

Where do pharmacist make the most money? ›

The national average salary for pharmacists is $52.35 per hour and ranges from $20.55 to $98.40 per hour depending on geographic location, experience and the industry. The top industries are general merchandise stores, food and beverage stores, hospitals and drug stores.

Does owning a pharmacy make money? ›

A typical independent pharmacy generates more than 90% of its revenues from prescriptions. Here are some basic definitions to clarify the pharmacy profit story: Gross profit equals a pharmacy's revenues minus the cost of products (net of discounts and returns) bought from a manufacturer or a wholesaler.

How much profit do you make owning a pharmacy? ›

The Profitability of Compounding

He notes that retail pharmacies can typically expect around 3% net profit. Unfortunately, with decreasing reimbursements and increasing DIR fees, those profits are starting to shrink.

Do pharmacists make enough money? ›

BLS data shows that, in 2021, a pharmacist in California, Texas or another top-paying state could expect an annual mean wage between $126,950 and $146,140 while one in a lower paying state could expect between $95,660 and $119,250.

Where's the best place to work as a pharmacist? ›

  • Costco Wholesale. 3.8. 15,118 reviews.
  • Kroger. 3.2. 35,770 reviews.
  • Walmart. 3.2. 245,057 reviews.
  • Express Scripts. 3.1. 4,587 reviews.
  • Publix. 3.8. 20,413 reviews.

How can I be a successful pharmacist? ›

You have to be able to prioritize, remain professional and remember patient care/safety above all”. “Successful Pharmacists Must Be Able to Adapt to ever-changing situations and practice environments. They should demonstrate good critical thinking skills and be able to communicate in a variety of different styles.

Why are pharmacists paid so well? ›

The market largely dictates salary and right now the market pays other areas of medicine more than general practitioners/pediatricians. Pharmacists make a good living comparable to a family physician because right now that's what the market values pharmacist labor and because our malpractice costs less.

Why are so many pharmacists quitting? ›

Shortages have led to highly stressful job environments for pharmacists, according to a report by the National Pharmacists Workforce Study, with problems ranging from work-life balance issues and heavy workloads contributing to burnout.

What is the failure rate of pharmacy? ›

This meta-analysis revealed a higher overall community pharmacy dispensing error rate than perhaps conventional wisdom predicted (ie, the error rate in community pharmacies appears to be between 1.4% and 1.8% of all prescriptions).

How stressful is pharmacist job? ›

The study also found that the quality of work-life balance among pharmacists had decreased since 2019. The three most common stressors were having too much work, being understaffed and fearing patient harm due to medical error. Those challenges are not isolated to corporate pharmacies.

What is the biggest problem in pharmacy? ›

Overcoming the Biggest Problems in Pharmacy
  • Big-Box Pharmacies. Big-box pharmacies are everywhere, and they make up nearly 45 percent of the prescription market. ...
  • Drug Shortages. Drug shortages are nothing new. ...
  • Staff Shortages. ...
  • Adaptation.
Jan 24, 2023

How many mistakes do pharmacists make? ›

One pharmacist acknowledged making 10 to 12 errors a year — “that are caught” — in an anonymous letter to the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy. While patients cannot control what happens behind the pharmacy counter, they can be on the lookout for errors. These simple steps can help.

Why is becoming a pharmacist so hard? ›

Pharmacy students must master a number of different pharmaceutical sciences, including pharmacotherapy, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics, as well as such job-specific skills as compounding (the process of "combining, mixing, or altering ingredients" to fashion a medication to specific needs of a patient).

What is the minimum salary of pharmacist in USA? ›

Pharmacist Salary
10th Percentile Pharmacist Salary$131,565US
25th Percentile Pharmacist Salary$139,346US
50th Percentile Pharmacist Salary$147,893US
75th Percentile Pharmacist Salary$157,525US
1 more row

Can a pharmacist negotiate salary? ›

Having a board certification or being certified in a specialty, such as a certified diabetes educator, can help in negotiating a salary. If the employer is seeking a pharmacist with teaching experience, having a teaching certificate and experience as a preceptor or lead pharmacist will help elevate your value.

What is the average salary of a pharmacist near me? ›

The average Pharmacist salary in Los Angeles, CA is $166,040 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $156,444 and $176,854.

What is the pharmacist unemployment rate in the US? ›

Results: Overall, 4.4% of the respondents were unemployed, with higher rates occurring for female pharmacists, older pharmacist cohorts, and respondents of color, with the highest rate occurring (9.3%) for Black pharmacists.

What are the top 3 industries that employ pharmacists? ›

Top Industries Hiring Pharmacists

Those industries include health care, retail and education.

How much is a pharmacist paid per hour in USA? ›

Pharmacists with this certification earn +41.19% more than the average base salary, which is $58.75 per hour.

Who makes more money pharmacist or pharmacologist? ›

In the United States, pharmacologists earn an average of $96,811 per year , and the average [salary for a pharmacist is $119,630 per year . For both professions, earning potential can vary based on several factors, including: Geographic location: Jobs in large cities tend to pay more than jobs in rural areas.

Which is harder pharmacy or medical school? ›

Having been both, it was easier and much quicker to become a pharmacist. The courses in pharmacy were more difficult but the medical courses required more memorization. Thus Pharmacy required intelligence, medicine required memory. This is only until graduation.

What is the salary of the top 10% pharmacist? ›

The Bureau of Labor Statistics's (BLS) most recent data (2021) estimates that the average annual salary for pharmacists is $125,690. For reference, the bottom 10% of pharmacists earn $76,840 and the top 10% earn $164,590.

How much does it take to run a pharmacy? ›

How much does it cost to open a pharmacy? As you can imagine, there are so many factors that affect this estimate – region, store location, store type, etc. Costs can fluctuate from as little as $250,000 to as much as $1,800,000. To give an average, expect start-up costs to range from about $400,000 – $600,000.

Where do pharmacies buy their drugs from? ›

Pharmacies purchase drugs from wholesalers or directly from manufacturers. After purchasing products, pharmacies must maintain an ample stock of drug products and provide information to consumers about the safe and effective use of prescription drugs.

What is pharmacist salary? ›

How long does it take for a pharmacy to break even? ›

A successful startup pharmacy will generally take two years to reach break even, with the owner often having to take a reduced salary or no salary at all as business develops.

What is the future of compounding pharmacy? ›

According to Report, the global compounding pharmacies market was valued at around USD 11.2 billion in 2021 and is expected to hit USD 20 billion by 2030, registering growth at a 6.66% CAGR from 2022 to 2030.

How many independent pharmacies are there in the US? ›

The independent community pharmacy marketplace

Every community pharmacy is a vital healthcare provider and an important local employer. According to the Digest, there are 19,397 independent community pharmacies in the United States ― that's substantially more locations than any one of the major chain pharmacies.

Is a pharmacist a respected job? ›

Pharmacists are one of the most well-respected and trusted medical professionals. They also make a really good living and are satisfied in knowing that they are helping people every day with their medical needs.

Is a pharmacist a happy job? ›

Pharmacists are one of the least happy careers in the United States. At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, pharmacists rate their career happiness 2.7 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 9% of careers.

Are pharmacists in the US rich? ›

The average pharmacists make around $128,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That's a really nice living, but it's not as much as a general physician (MD) makes and it's not enough to guarantee becoming rich.

What is the most progressive state for pharmacists? ›

Idaho boasts some of the most progressive pharmacy practice laws in the country. With recent changes that significantly expand prescriptive authority, pharmacists in Idaho can now test for and prescribe medications for a number of common ailments, such as influenza and strep throat.

Is pharmacist the most trusted profession? ›

Pharmacists regularly rank as the second most honest and ethical profession in Gallup's Poll.

What personality type is a pharmacist? ›

This makes logical, confident, Extraverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging Myers-Briggs test ENTJ types a suitable fit for careers such as pharmacists. Pharmacists advise patients on a variety of issues related to their medication, including dosage, storage, drug interactions, side effects, and more.

How long do most pharmacists work? ›

In most cases, a pharmacist can expect to work 40 hours per week. Those hours can cover night shifts, weekends, and even holidays, depending on where you are working. Pharmacy shifts can also vary, with some pharmacists working five 8-hour shifts and others working four 10-hour shifts.

How to become a millionaire as a pharmacist? ›

How to become a rich pharmacist with pharmacy school debt
  1. Choose a credible but inexpensive in-state pharmacy school.
  2. Take a high-paying, full-time position.
  3. Get the optimal student loan plan.
  4. Focus on savings rate.
Sep 12, 2019

What are the pros and cons of becoming a pharmacist? ›

Pros and cons of being a pharmacist
  • Competitive salary.
  • Creative career options. Health care is a universal need, so likewise, there's always a need for health care employees, including pharmacists. ...
  • Remote working opportunities. ...
  • Independent practice. ...
  • Clean workspace. ...
  • Nonphysical work. ...
  • Flexible schedule. ...
  • Travel opportunities.
Mar 10, 2023

What is special about pharmacists? ›

Pharmacists play an important role in helping people get the best results from their medications. Pharmacists are medication experts who enhance patient care and promote wellness.

What is the average school debt for a pharmacist? ›

Today, the average student loan debt for pharmacy graduates is $170,444, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy's 2022 Graduating Student National Summary Report. 5. Is becoming a pharmacist worth the cost?

What is the average debt of a pharmacist? ›

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), nearly 85% of students borrow money to pay for their pharmacy degree. Further, the average pharmacist student loan debt is $166,528 by the time they graduate (source).

Do pharmacists have a stressful job? ›

The study also found that the quality of work-life balance among pharmacists had decreased since 2019. The three most common stressors were having too much work, being understaffed and fearing patient harm due to medical error. Those challenges are not isolated to corporate pharmacies.

What is a good GPA in pharmacy school? ›

Most pharmacy programs set minimum overall GPA requirements, generally around 2.5 to 3.0. If your GPA fails to meet the threshold, your application will not be reviewed.

Are pharmacists oversaturated? ›

With over 10,000 pharmacists graduating every year into a job market that is completely saturated, finding positions in any mode of their profession is extremely difficult.

How many lives do pharmacists save? ›

The investigators found that pharmacist care services could result in saving the lives of as many as 112,000 seniors each year.

What is competitive advantage in pharmacy? ›

Competitive advantage is a function of a pharmacy practice innovation's positioning relative to competitors. Positioning describes an innovation's image in the mind of customers. Competitive advantage results from an image that is clear, distinct, and valued in the mind of customers.


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