Despite downturn, pharmacy jobs abound

Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the statistical arm of the Department of Labor, estimated that pharmacist employment was expected to grow by 22 percent between 2006 and 2016. This year, the forecast is somewhat lower, but still hopeful.

The BLS reports that pharmacist employment is expected to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is still faster than the average for all occupations. The bureau cites growing demand in mail-order pharmacies, as well as continued growth in hospitals, drugstores, grocery stores, and mass retailers. Pharmacists in these settings will increasingly offer patient care services such as the administration of vaccines.

Further, job prospects are expected to be excellent during this period. Employers in many parts of the country report difficulty in attracting and retaining adequate numbers of pharmacists. And while retail stores employ the most, consulting appears to be the top paying job, followed by employment by mental health and substance abuse facilities and insurance carriers.

Part-time employment is also a concern. As the percentage of pharmacists working part time grows, more people will be needed to fill the same number of prescriptions, assuming no productivity gains.

Faster-than-average employment growth and the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons will affect the number of openings.

Top paying industries for pharmacists
Industry Number of jobs Mean hourly wage Mean annual wage
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 350 $56.11 $116,710
Residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities 50 $55.08 $114,580
Insurance carriers 1,010 $53.55 $111,390
Management of companies and services 1,770 $53.30 $110,860
Employment services 2,850 $53.11 $110,480

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2009

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