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Why Do Pharmacists Earn So Much $$?

UW_Husky88UW_Husky88 Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
Why are so many pharmacists earning 6 figs directly out of college, which is more than an engineer?! All they do is hand over a dang bottle of pills and, if I'm not mistaken, mix chemicals to make them?

1. Why do they make so much? And will it continue through year 2012 when I graduate college?

2. People say that pharmacists' role will evolve. What do they mean by this as in will their routine change or what?

3. How long does it take after high school to become one?
Post edited by UW_Husky88 on
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Replies to: Why Do Pharmacists Earn So Much $$?

  • ryanbisryanbis Posts: 836Registered User Member
    It really shouldn't be much of a surprise. Pharmacists are doctors and go to school for 6 years. If you're comparing them to an engineer with only a bachelor's degree, you should expect there to be a salary differential.


    "All they do is hand over a dang bottle of pills and, if I'm not mistaken, mix chemicals to make them?"

    Well, that's really not true. You're probably thinking of retail pharmacy, which is not the only career path available--many go into research and drug development, for instance. Either way, retail pharmacists do not "just hand over the dang bottle." They also usually don't mix any chemicals (sometimes, there is mixing involved; however, when I worked at a pharmacy in high school, I used the old mortar and pistle about once a year). Retail pharmacies are highly regulated by each state and require a pharmacist to be in charge of dispensing medication (although the actual counting and such is usually done by technicians with minimal education). Pharmacists make sure that the correct medication is dispensed, make sure that the correct generic substitute was given, make sure that the instructions and dosage make sense, make sure that proper laws are followed (different drugs have different requirements for dispensing) and (most importantly) answer patient questions. Each pharmacy usually has a pharmacist double as a pharmacy manager, so they may also have management duties.


    "Why do they make so much?"

    Demand, for one. There's a shortage of pharmacists. Secondly, there's a lot of liability involved if a pharmacist makes a mistake in dispensing or gives improper advice--you want someone who is qualified. Retail pharmacy is also not a fun job, nor is it easy. If you're in a busy store, it gets VERY hectic and you will have lots of people screaming at you most of the day. You'll have to deal with PIA customers as well as PIA insurance companies.
  • chalkchalk Posts: 328Registered User Junior Member
    Just a little tidbit: Pharmacists earn good money right out of pharmacy school, but their salary doesn't increase very much as they work longer, unless they move up to different positions, like management.
  • j.projectj.project Posts: 174Registered User Junior Member

    ryanbis and chalk have answered your question well, but I just wanted to add a statistic to drive it home.

    I'm a pre-pharm major and I'm working at a pharmacy this summer. I had a discussion with one of the pharmacists I work with and he told me that the projected number of years that the pharmaceutical industry will experience a shortage of pharmacists is 20 years. If the trend continues, then yes. When you graduate by 2012, the industry will still be in need.

    All they do is hand over a dang bottle of pills and, if I'm not mistaken, mix chemicals to make them?

    That's a common misconception and one of the worst stereotypes I've heard about my chosen career (you're not the first), but it's something that pharmacists will have to tolerate. Just to add to what ryanbis said, what customers and patients do not actively think about is that retail pharmacists have to know a little bit of everything about all of the common ailments. Ask about orthopedic problems, they expect the retail pharmacist to know. Ask about that weird mark on the neck, the retail pharmacist should know something about it. Why are the watery eyes still there after 500 drops of Visine, Clear Eyes, etc.? Retail pharmacists need answers to that, too. They act as a sort of the localised expert in medication at stores. They're the ones on-site to explain side-effects, why buying that Calcium+Oyster supplement is worthless, etc.

    Retail pharmacists are so accessible that oftentimes, people forget that their title is "doctor."

    In terms of salary, even without the increase, it should always be that people should live within their means. Pharmacists should also be successful at investing their money and managing their expenses. Because most pharmacists recognise this during their years in pharmacy school, they're able to "make money grow." Costs of living are important, too.

    So uh... just take some time to think about things and do some research (there are far more avenues to doing research than just Google) before jumping to conclusions in the near future.
  • dyip10dyip10 Posts: 532Registered User Member
    "Why are so many pharmacists earning 6 figs directly out of college, which is more than a ****ing engineer?!"

    Because pharmacists have to graduate from college and then attend 4 years of pharmacy school.
    How long does it take after high school to become one?

    2-4 years of undergraduate
    4 years of pharmacy school
  • merlinjonesmerlinjones Posts: 807- Member
    Where I live in Memphis, Tn. pharmacists are in incredibly high demand! What they study is way not my personal academic thing at all, but they deserve their pay for sure. It takes a lot of schooling as well as some fine tuned academic skill to get into that field.
  • Polo08816Polo08816 Posts: 856Registered User Member
    1. Why do they make so much? And will it continue through year 2012 when I graduate college?

    2. People say that pharmacists' role will evolve. What do they mean by this as in will their routine change or what?

    3. How long does it take after high school to become one?

    1. Supply and demand.
    2. Pharmacists are becoming more involved in managing a patient's medication. There is no possible way doctors can remember and understand all the different drugs there are out there.
    3. 6 years if you get into a program that takes you directly from HS. In my opinion, anything over 6 years and it loses its value proposition.

    I plan to finish my PharmD while double majoring in Econ and minoring in Economics. I want to work for the pharmaceutical industry after graduation and go to school part-time for a Master's in ChemE for two years. With a PharmD and MS ChemE, you will not be limited to only the pharmaceutical industry. At this point, I would want to work abroad for two years and apply for an MBA program at a top 5 business school.
  • Cadetster36Cadetster36 Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    not all pharmacists make 6 figures...the national starting salary of a pharmacist is 80,000....and there are plently of them making that much. And dont think that they just put pills in a bottle...it requires a handful of brain to figure out side effect...paient statisitcs, etc. oh, and not to mention....most pharmacists have a 80 hour work week...lol..soo good luck on that one
  • sunnyfloridasunnyflorida Posts: 4,790Registered User Senior Member
    How eloquent. It really shouldn't be much of a surprise. Pharmacists are doctors and go to school for 6 years. If you're comparing them to an engineer with only a bachelor's degree, you should expect there to be a salary differential.

    Most retail pharmacists are not "doctors." In my community, most are Masters level pharmacists. I know of only one PharmD in my area working in a local retail pharmacy. There may be a few more on staff at the hospitals.

    It is alot about supply an demand. But I agree that many are working 60-80 hours (not a safe thing imho) due to the lack of adequate personanel to staff retail pharmacies.
  • tivesrxtivesrx Posts: 651Registered User Member
    I think the use of online pharamcies might change their role. May not be needed as much in lots of different stores. Pills are just mailed out from a central location.
  • futurenyustudentfuturenyustudent Posts: 5,366Registered User Senior Member
    Hmmm....maybe because they have such boring jobs, that by the way, nobody wants to do.
  • ryanbisryanbis Posts: 836Registered User Member
    "Hmmm....maybe because they have such boring jobs, that by the way, nobody wants to do."

    :/ Yet another "constructive" post from you...

    That's really not true at all. I worked as a tech throughout high school and part of college and enjoyed it quite a bit. I've worked in both large and small stores and working in a small store can be a lot of fun. Large stores have their benefits, but the particular one I worked in was severely understaffed and the number of prescriptions filled per day doubled overnight when a nearby store closed. It was also a unionized. Other than that, it was interesting to learn about the medications, the pharmaceutical industry (which is quite unique) and how these stores are run.

    Most of the pharmacists I knew enjoyed their work and, if I were more interested in Chemistry, I might have considered pursuing that path.
  • epoch_dreamsepoch_dreams Posts: 174Registered User Junior Member
    Well, that's really not true. You're probably thinking of retail pharmacy, which is not the only career path available--many go into research and drug development, for instance.

    Research and drug development usually needs a more advanced degree such as pharmacology or organic chem. P.H.D.

    It's a completely different area.
  • RHSstudent07RHSstudent07 Posts: 312Registered User Junior Member
    Being a pharmacist and doing pharma. research and development is quit interesting. For instance, it's quite a business out there with demand and supply of drugs. Just like a patient requiring heart and surgery, drugs arn't any different in staying alife.
  • ryanbisryanbis Posts: 836Registered User Member
    "Most retail pharmacists are not 'doctors.' In my community, most are Masters level pharmacists. I know of only one PharmD in my area working in a local retail pharmacy. There may be a few more on staff at the hospitals."


    This depends a lot on your locality based on the rules of your local State Board of Pharmacy and what's available at your local universities. I know that the vast majority of the pharmacists I knew came out of Rutgers with a Pharm.D.



    "Research and drug development usually needs a more advanced degree such as pharmacology or organic chem. P.H.D."

    I don't believe so. I know that I've seen job postings for pharmacists for R&D positions. To my understanding, drug research is usually done in inter-disciplinary teams, utilizing professionals from multiple fields. I don't believe that it's uncommon to see a Pharm.D. on a team. I would imagine that pharmacists would also have a hand in the clinical trials, though this isn't really my area of expertise.

    I just did a quick search on Pfizer's website and did find several job listings for Pharm.D.'s in drug development and R&D.
  • DranakinDranakin Posts: 422Registered User Member
    Just to add to what ryanbis said, what customers and patients do not actively think about is that retail pharmacists have to know a little bit of everything about all of the common ailments. Ask about orthopedic problems, they expect the retail pharmacist to know. Ask about that weird mark on the neck, the retail pharmacist should know something about it. Why are the watery eyes still there after 500 drops of Visine, Clear Eyes, etc.? Retail pharmacists need answers to that, too. They act as a sort of the localised expert in medication at stores. They're the ones on-site to explain side-effects, why buying that Calcium+Oyster supplement is worthless, etc.

    That's odd. I remember asking a pharmacist a simple question (like your "weird mark on the neck" one) and I was told very quickly before I could even finish the question: "I'm not allowed to give diagnosis's. NEXT!"
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