While pharmacology salaries aren’t as sizeable as a doctor's, pharmacists often bring home paychecks in the six figures. The reason is simple -- education. Most pharmacists must first complete their undergraduate degree before venturing into graduate studies in pharmacology, which can take anywhere from three to four year to complete. Like many other medical professionals, a pharmacist can choose to take part in a residency program for an additional one to two years, and then seek licensure to practice.
In 2011, pharmacists averaged just over $112,000 a year. Because lower salaries can skew this figure, median wage is often a better indication of earning potential. Half of all pharmacists earn $113,390 a year or more, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Modern Medicine, an information resource for medical professionals, offers a different number entirely, placing the average at closer to $115,455 a year.
The disparity in salary is likely due to the means of compensation as the majority of pharmacists, roughly 59 percent, are paid on an hourly basis rather than a full-time wage. In this situation, a pharmacist averages $51 to $60 an hour, and hours worked varies anywhere between 40 and 44 per week. About eight percent work over 50 hours.
A survey published by "Pharmacy Week," a weekly trade publication, found that practice setting also influences average salary. As of 2012, staff pharmacists in a retail setting average $118,700 a year, while those in hospitals earn $115,600 a year. Those working in satellite pharmacies earn closer to $115,200 a year -- not much of a difference from those in hospitals. Pharmacists working for mail-order companies appear to earn the least, averaging $111,900 a year.
Within a pharmacy, not all pharmacists hold the same title. Managers often earn much more than staff pharmacists. For example, the average staff pharmacist averages $116,100 a year, while the manager would earn over $130,000 a year.
As with any career, location affects salaries, largely due to the cost of living. For example, pharmacists in Alaska tend to earn the most, averaging $125,330 a year. Those working in Maine are a close second, with salaries at $125,310 a year. Third goes to pharmacists in California, where salaries are closer to $122,800 a year. The same, however, can’t be said for pharmacists in Nebraska. On average, a Nebraska-base pharmacist earns just $99,050 a year -- around $13,000 less than the national average.