2021 Pharmacy Salary Survey Results: Stress and Workload Continue to Increase

Drug Topics Journal, Drug Topics December 2021, Volume 165, Issue 12

Each autumn, Drug Topics® surveys its readers from across the country to take the pulse of the pharmacy profession before heading into the new year. This year, 1123 respondents were more eager than perhaps ever before to share their feelings on important workplace issues.

As we close out the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, most survey respondents (67.6%) reported that they are satisfied with their current position, whereas just under one-third of respondents reported dissatisfaction with their jobs. Despite this, 42.4% of respondents still indicated that they’re considering a job change within the next 12 months.

Reasons for this potential job change vary. For 18% of respondents, income was cited as the most important factor; for 12.7%, professional development opportunities are behind the change. Issues such as a lack of support from corporate management, work-life balance, and a dearth of support staff. in the face of increased COVID-19–related demands are the reason some pharmacists will be searching for greener pastures come 2022.

Most respondents indicated that their workload has increased during 2021 (61.8%); unsurprisingly, stress levels at work have also increased in tandem (58.7%).

Increased work volume and COVID-19 were neck and neck as the key driver behind increased stress, with 52.5% of respondents attributing more stress to increased work volume and 52.4% attributing it to COVID-19. Increased pressure from management, increased paperwork, a negative workplace environment, and lack of training were also cited as drivers of increased stress.

Those who indicated “other” as the reason pointed to a lack of pharmacy technicians and other trained staff, unrealistic expectations, and patient hostilities due to wait times and copays as the main drivers of daily stress.

When asked what factors contributed to a decrease in workplace stress this year, 22.9% cited additional technology support, 21.2% cited improved workplace environment, 20.4% cited increased staffing, and 14.9% cited more employee-sponsored training. A little more than 30% of respondents, however, opted to share their own response to the question, indicating that over the past 12 months, stress levels have not decreased at all.

Salary and Compensation

Most respondents to this year’s survey were industry veterans (32.4%), with 25 or more years on the job. Most respondents were employed as sta. pharmacists (32.3%), followed by pharmacy department managers (14.3%), clinical pharmacists (12.1%), and store owners or partners (9.7%). Respondents were nearly evenly split between receiving an annual salary or hourly wage, with slightly more respondents (51.6%) receiving hourly pay. Current hourly wages for most pharmacists were between $61 and $70 an hour; only 20.1% received $71 an hour or more.

For those respondents receiving an annual salary, most were paid between $110,001 and $120,000 (14.1%) per year, followed closely by $100,001 to $110,000 (12.3%) and $90,001 to $100,000 (11.7%); only 10.3% of respondents reported making more than $150,000 per year. Regardless of how they’re paid, 51.2% of respondents reported not receiving any additional income—in the form of commission, bonuses, or profit sharing—in 2021.

Despite an increase in work volume and subsequent workplace stress, raises were not a certainty—for some. Respondents were split nearly evenly: 50.2% received a raise in 2021 and 49.7% did not; this was an increased from our 2020 survey, when only 35% of pharmacists reported receiving a raise during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demographics and Methodology

The Drug Topics® annual pharmacy salary survey was available online from October 20 to November 15 and received a total of 1123 responses. A little more than half of the respondents were men (52.1%); 25.5% practice pharmacy in the Southeast United States and 58.7% were employed full time. Most respondents were employed at either chain or independent pharmacies—19.5% and 18.7%, respectively—and 16.2% reported employment in a hospital pharmacy setting.