Staff R.Ph. pay nears six figures, survey finds

July 24, 2006

Reflecting the economic consequences of a manpower shortage, the median total compensation of staff pharmacists is pushing six figures, according to the latest survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

Staff pharmacists are pulling down a median compensation, including salary and any bonus, of $98,300, according to Mercer's 2006 Pharmacy Compensation Survey-Spring Edition. The latest figure is $5,000 higher than it was in 2005 and $9,900 more than staff pharmacists were paid in 2004. The survey data were submitted by 180 companies covering more than 209,500 pharmacy employees in 16 different jobs. The respondents represent major retail pharmacy firms, hospitals and healthcare systems, and mail-order and on-line pharmacies.

Regional pharmacy operation managers are the top dogs when it comes to compensation. Their median income was $122,100, up from $118,400 in 2005 and $112,300 two years ago. Other pharmacy employees also garnering year-over-year gains of more than 4.2% were pharmacy team managers, who earned a median $104,300; pharmacy technicians, who were paid $21,800; and pharmacy graduates who have earned their degree but are not yet licensed, who pulled down $53,600.

"As the need for pharmacists outpaces supply, pharmacy operators are compensating competitively to fill open positions," said Eric Michael, Pharm.D., senior consultant with Mercer's Managed Pharmacy Benefit unit. "As salaries continue to rise and the pharmacist's job transforms to one of increased responsibility and accountability in an environment emphasizing productivity over service delivery, employers will likely see higher costs. And the service their customers receive may be at risk as pharmacists spend less time managing drug use and more time dispensing drugs."