The Top 10 Worst States to Be a Pharmacist


Looking for a new pharmacy job? You should probably avoid these states.

America in pills

Earlier this month we presented our list of the Top 10 Best States for Pharmacists. Naturally, there are two questions that such an article evokes. First: Did my state make the list? Second: If those are the Ten Best, when what are the Ten Worst states for pharmacists?

Update 2018: Check out this year's list here!

We’ve already answered the first question, so here is the answer for the second.

In compiling our ranking of all 50 states, we looked at a dozen variables, ranging from how much money pharmacists make to crime levels to overall well-being. The 12 metrics we used were:

  • Mean annual wage for pharmacists (the national average was $122,230)
  • Number of pharmacists per state (there were about 297,000 nationwide in 2016)
  • Location quotient of the industry (the local concentration of pharmacy techs as compared to the national average)
  • The state’s cost of living
  • Overall crime statistics
  • Pharmacy robbery rates (including armed robbery, employee pilferage and night break-ins-there were 632, nationwide)
  • Population’s overall well-being
  • Population’s health insurance rates
  • Pharmacy job openings
  • Population’s financial savviness
  • Stress (including work-related, family-related, money-related, and health-and-safety related stress)
  • Population’s education level

We looked at each state using these criteria and then gave each state a ranking from 1 to 50, 1 being very good and 50 being the worst. We then compiled the 12 criteria rankings for each state to give that state a total and ranked the states from 1 to 50 based on that final score to give us the 10 worst states to be a pharmacist.

As with the 10 Best list, a lone factor or two rarely swung a state’s ranking. For instance, pharmacists in Iowa ranked number 49 in total mean wage, but that ranking did not stop them from coming in third place, overall. There are other factors to consider, as well. For another example, the average pharmacist in Alaska made more money than anyone in the country, but Alaska appear on this list.

With that scoring in mind, here are the bottom 10 states in our ranking:


10. Indiana

  • Mean wage: 34
  • Number of pharmacists: 17
  • Location quotient: 36
  • Cost-of-living: 2
  • Crime statistics: 22
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 49
  • Overall well-being: 44
  • Health insurance coverage: 31
  • Pharmacy job openings: 19
  • Financial savviness: 31
  • Stress: 32
  • Education level: 38

Total: 355

Coming in at number 10 (number 41 on the complete list of states) is the Hoosier State. The two biggest factors sinking Indiana to the bottom of the rankings are the population’s overall well-being and the number of pharmacy robberies (there were 71 reported robberies in 2016).

On the positive side, Indiana ranks number two in cost-of-living and ranks highest on this list for number of residents with health insurance-88.6% of Hoosiers had access to prescription medications in 2015.


9. Arkansas

  • Mean wage: 33
  • Number of pharmacists: 29
  • Location quotient: 4
  • Cost-of-living: 4
  • Crime statistics: 50
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 19
  • Overall well-being: 49
  • Health insurance coverage: 29
  • Pharmacy job openings: 5
  • Financial savviness: 50
  • Stress: 41
  • Education level: 47

Total: 357

Arkansas scored dead last on our list for financial savviness and overall crime statistics (in terms of pharmacy robberies, however, they ranked number 16 on the list). Residents of the Natural State are also next to last for overall well-being and in terms of education level, they came in at number 47.

But, the numbers for Arkansas are not all bleak. They are also number five in terms of pharmacy job openings, which is a positive if you is looking for a job.



8. Alaska

  • Mean wage: 1
  • Number of pharmacists: 50
  • Location quotient: 50
  • Cost-of-living: 46
  • Crime statistics: 49
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 9
  • Overall well-being: 18
  • Health insurance coverage: 47
  • Pharmacy job openings: 1
  • Financial savviness: 33
  • Stress: 39
  • Education level: 20

Total: 363

Salary does not always equate to the best place to live, and that is the case here. Pharmacists in the Last Frontier make more on average than any other pharmacists in the country-an average of $137,650 per year or $15,300 more than the national average.

However, that high average salary may be because it is hard to attract pharmacists to Alaska. The state ranks last in the total number of pharmacists and its location quotient. As such, there’s plenty of demand for pharmacists in the state-in fact, it ranks number one in terms of pharmacy job openings. But this may also mean that there may not be a very rich and active peer community.

Another strike against the state is that they ranked number 47 on the list of uninsured residents-16% of Alaskans do not have health insurance.



7. Oklahoma (tie with Tennessee)

  • Mean wage: 17
  • Number of pharmacists: 28
  • Location quotient: 18
  • Cost-of-living: 5
  • Crime statistics: 34
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 23
  • Overall well-being: 47
  • Health insurance coverage: 49
  • Pharmacy job openings: 32
  • Financial savviness: 41
  • Stress: 36
  • Education level: 41

Total: 371

The Sooner State tended to be toward the middle of the pack for most of its numbers. However, there were a couple of extremes. The bad news first: The state’s overall well-being came in at number 47. The worse news was the population’s overall health insurance coverage: 16.5% of Oklahomans are uninsured.

The good news, however, is that they have a reasonably low cost-of-living, coming in fifth.



7. Tennessee (tie with Oklahoma)

  • Mean wage: 22
  • Number of pharmacists: 12
  • Location quotient: 6
  • Cost-of-living: 7
  • Crime statistics: 43
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 38
  • Overall well-being: 45
  • Health insurance coverage: 34
  • Pharmacy job openings: 33
  • Financial savviness: 46
  • Stress: 42
  • Education level: 43

Total: 371

Like Oklahoma, while Tennessee ranked largely in the middle of the pack for its numbers, there are some outliers. The Volunteer State ranks number seven in terms of cost of living. And because the number of pharmacists in the state very nearly cracked the top 10 and the location quotient is at number six means that there is likely to be a decent opportunity for professional development with one’s peers.

However, financial savviness came in at number 46 on our list, and with the annual salary averaging $119,970 (about $2,260) less than the national average; pharmacists need to be able to make the most of their money.



5. Florida

  • Mean wage: 28
  • Number of pharmacists: 3
  • Location quotient: 7
  • Cost-of-living: 27
  • Crime statistics: 46
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 44
  • Overall well-being: 29
  • Health insurance coverage: 48
  • Pharmacy job openings: 42
  • Financial savviness: 28
  • Stress: 38
  • Education level: 37

Total: 377

Pharmacists in the Sunshine State should enjoy a fairly rich professional community. They ranked number three in overall pharmacy jobs and are number seven in the location quotient rankings. They ranked number 42 in job openings, which means that there are plenty of pharmacists in the state.

Not so good, however are the state’s overall crime statistics-it comes in 46 on the overall list and number 44 in terms of pharmacy robberies (there were 20 reported in 2016). The state also ranks number 48 in overall health insurance coverage. A total of 16.2% of Floridians are uninsured and do not have coverage for their prescription medications.



4. Georgia

  • Mean wage: 35
  • Number of pharmacists: 8
  • Location quotient: 22
  • Cost-of-living: 14
  • Crime statistics: 33
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 42
  • Overall well-being: 34
  • Health insurance coverage: 46
  • Pharmacy job openings: 24
  • Financial savviness: 45
  • Stress: 43
  • Education level: 35

Total: 381

Pharmacists in the Peach State ranked number eight in the total number of pharmacists. The overall crime statistics for Georgia are 33 on our overall list, but they came in at 42 with pharmacy robberies (there were 19 reported in 2016).

Pharmacists in Georgia earned, on average, $116,170 dollars per year-about $6,000 less than the national average. Like many of its neighbors, Georgia ranked low on the list of residents with health insurance coverage. A total of 15.7% of Georgians are without coverage for their prescription medications.



3. Louisiana

  • Mean wage: 45
  • Number of pharmacists: 25
  • Location quotient: 16
  • Cost-of-living: 20
  • Crime statistics: 40
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 14
  • Overall well-being: 43
  • Health insurance coverage: 43
  • Pharmacy job openings: 4
  • Financial savviness: 44
  • Stress: 49
  • Education level: 48

Total: 391

New Orleans may be known as the Big Easy, but numbers for all of Louisiana tell a somewhat different story. First, overall stress for the Bayou State ranks number 49. Education level for the entire state ranks 48.

For pharmacists, in particular, salaries are not all that great (they earned about $10,000 per year less than the national average), and they ranked fourth on the overall list for job openings, perhaps due to the low salaries. As such, there may not be very rich professional community for pharmacists.

Also, 13.9% of Louisianans do not have health insurance, meaning that a good portion of the population does not have coverage for their prescription medications.



2. New Mexico

  • Mean wage: 20
  • Number of pharmacists: 38
  • Location quotient: 27
  • Cost-of-living: 41
  • Crime statistics: 17
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 24
  • Overall well-being: 37
  • Health insurance coverage: 36
  • Pharmacy job openings: 31
  • Financial savviness: 49
  • Stress: 45
  • Education level: 39

Total: 404

Earning the 49th position on our list is New Mexico-the Land of Enchantment. Residents have the second-lowest level of financial savviness and rank number 45 when it comes to overall stress. Most of the rest of the numbers are somewhere in the middle of pack, but the number of pharmacists in the state is pretty low. Annually, New Mexican pharmacists make about $1,900 less than the national average.



1. Nevada

  • Mean wage: 8
  • Number of pharmacists: 36
  • Location quotient: 43
  • Cost-of-living: 36
  • Crime statistics: 42
  • Pharmacy robbery rates: 34
  • Overall well-being: 35
  • Health insurance coverage: 44
  • Pharmacy job openings: 44
  • Financial savviness: 47
  • Stress: 44
  • Education level: 39

Total: 458

Pharmacists in the Silver State didn’t have any one or two big numbers defining their number 50 place on our list. At the very least, it can be said they have a respectable salary-they earn about $1,200 dollars more than the national average.

That being said, Nevadan pharmacists ranked in the bottom 20% for overall crime statistics and stress levels. They came in at 44th position for population health insurance rates-14% are uninsured. They also came in as number 44 for pharmacy job openings. For financial savviness, they ranked only number 47.


DEA Drug Theft & Loss Database as of 1/13/2017

U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

Pharmacist Demand Indicator:

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