Salary Survey: Shortage of pharmacists creates employees' market

Today's shortage of pharmacists has opened doors for increased salaries and benefits. "It's currently an employee's market, but I don't see a lot of pharmacists taking advantage of this fact" says Peggy Kuehl, director of education and membership services with the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. "Pharmacists need to learn better skills in negotiating benefits and salaries. They need to be sure to counter offer and not simply accept what is offered them."

Keep track of accomplishments

While workers typically think of salary negotiations as occurring at the time of hire, negotiations also can occur at times of salary increase and/or bonus. Keeping track of personal accomplishments and achievements made throughout the year can help support negotiations.

Evidence to help justify increases in salary and benefits can include successful therapeutic interventions, medication errors caught and prevented, and notes of thanks from colleagues. Publications that weigh heavily in academic tenure also can play an important role in helping an employer justify salary increases, as can participation in professional associations.

Drug Utilization Review recently tabulated the results of its 2000 reader salary survey to assess the financial and workplace demographics of its readership. The results reflect the strength of the current economy and the struggles associated with the shortage of pharmacists.

Of the 46 respondents to the survey, the majority report earning a salary of $75,000 to $85,000 annually and working between 41 and 50 hours weekly. Approximately 70% of respondents are directors of pharmacy.

Also important when evaluating salaries in the profession is looking at how they change over time. This year, 42% of DUR respondents report their salaries increased in the past 12 months by 1% to 3%. This is in keeping with the national cost-of-living increase of 2.4% for the past year. (See for cost-of-living adjustment statistics.)

Another 29% report an increase of 4% to 6%, while 9% report an increase of 7% to 10%, and almost 7% report an increase of 11% to 15%. Just 2% report an increase of 21% or more, and 11% report no change in salary during the past year. No one reported a decrease in salary.

Stay or go?

Those salary increases might help justify working harder for the nearly 36% of respondents who reported a decrease in number of employees in their departments over the past 12 months. However, 29% of respondents were fortunate in having the number of employees in the department increase during the past year. The remainder saw no change.

Using modal answers to create a composite picture of a DUR pharmacist, the average respondent is a man in his early 50s who has been working in a 200-bed nonprofit hospital for approximately 12 years. He earns $75,000 to $85,000 a year for working 41 to 50 hours a week. Thirty percent of respondents report working in a medium-size community hospital.

Hard to say 'no'

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, DC, reports that, while incomes for the nation rose during the past year, so did hours worked per week. The median household income is now $40,816, representing an increase of 2.7% over the previous year, slightly better than the national cost-of-living adjustment. (Visit the Web at www. for additional information.) According to the EPI, the average middle-income, married-couple family with children and a head of household who is 25 to 54 years of age has increased the number of hours worked each year by 279 hours over the past decade.

"Pharmacists have always been hard workers," Kuehl says. "The majority of them work so hard because they want to help people. They also find it difficult to say 'no.' Given the current shortage of pharmacists, we can expect that a lot of families containing pharmacists have increased their annual hours in a similar fashion."

The demographics of the DUR respondents are similar to those seen in 2,092 respondents to the National Pharmacist Workforce Survey: 2000, which was commissioned by the Pharmacy Manpower Project (PMP). PMP is composed of organizations including the following:

• Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy;

• American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy;

• American College of Apothecaries;

• American Pharmaceutical Association;

• American Society of Consultant Pharmacists;

• American Society of Health-System Pharmacists;

• Bureau of Health Professions;

• National Association of Chain Drug Stores;

• National Association of Boards of Pharmacy;

• National Community Pharmacists Association;

• National Council of State Pharmacy Association Executives;

• National Pharmaceutical Association;

• National Wholesale Druggists' Association;

• Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association;

• Pharmacy Technicians Certification Board.

(See the full report on the Web at this address:

The PMP report states that 73.3% of all licensed pharmacists were working full-time (> 30 hours/week) in pharmacy during 2000; 14.9% worked part-time. Of those licensed pharmacists, more than 40% were women, vs. 33% of DUR respondents who are women. Additionally, more than 80% of women in the PMP survey were younger than 46, and 42% of men were younger than 46.

Similarly, 50% of DUR responders are younger than 46, and the majority of DUR responders are men. Slight differences between groups may be accounted for due to differences in population location because the PMP study includes a large number of community pharmacists. Overall, full-time pharmacists in the PMP study report working an average of 44.2 hours per week, which coincides with the DUR statistic of 41 to 45 hours worked per week.

Another 17% of respondents reported earning $85,000 to $99,999, while 19% more reported six-figure incomes. A full 50% of respondents report that annual or semi-annual bonuses are not provided at their workplaces.

Of respondents reporting certifications that best represent their current positions, nearly 69% report RPh, while 27% report PharmD, and 2% report BCPS.

On their list of desired benefits, the majority of pharmacists report that medical coverage, 401k/savings plans, and pension plans are extremely important, while dental and eye care coverage, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, and freedom to choose work schedule are somewhat less important.

"Everyone has specific factors that are most important to them in the workplace, and they tend to choose their jobs or job sites base on those factors. Still, it's not unusual to find pharmacists who are dissatisfied with one aspect or another of their jobs, whether that be with salary, benefits, or the desire to do more clinical work," Kuehl says.

"Yet current times have put pharmacists in the driver's seat. This creates many opportunities for pharmacists to improve themselves and their workplace," she says. "Pharmacists need to make their desires known. A good employer will hear what employees are looking for and will make appropriate changes to the work environment in order to keep the staff and keep them both content and productive."


Peggy Kuehl, Director of Education and Membership Services, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, 3101 Broadway St., Suite 380, Kansas City, MO 64111. Telephone: (816) 531-2177.