NEW YORK A new survey by consulting firm Mercer indicates that pay for pharmacy professionals is still climbing, though at a slower pace for some positions.
A retail staff pharmacist, for example, receives median total cash compensation of $102,800, compared to $98,600 in 2006—an increase of 4.3 percent, according to the 2007 Pharmacy Compensation Survey. The increase for last year, however, was 5.3 percent. The positions of pharmacy team manager and pharmacy technician are also experiencing pay rising at a slower rate, though a regional pharmacy operations manager earns median total cash compensation of $130,400 compared to $122,100 in 2006, an increase of 6.8 percent. This is more than twice the pay increase of 3.1 percent in 2005. Similarly, clinical pharmacists saw pay raises increase from 3.9 percent in 2006 to 6.3 percent in 2007.
The overall increase in salaries, the survey said, can be attributed to the shortage of talent, growing number of prescriptions to fill due to an aging population and complications resulting from Medicare Part D. “In an effort to attract and retain good pharmacists and remain competitive, pharmacy operators are continuing to raise salaries,” said Eric Michael, principal with Mercer’s managed pharmacy benefit business. “Pharmacists today have many choices regarding where to work and the type of work they want to do. Not only have the number of outlets offering pharmacies increased, pharmacists have opportunities in wholesale businesses and with the government that may offer better hours and less or no prescriptions to fill.”
Pay levels do, however, vary considerably by geography. Compared to the national median for total cash compensation, pay for a retail staff pharmacist is lower in cities like Little Rock, Ark. ($82,100), Omaha, Neb. ($91,500) and Pittsburgh, Pa. ($93,600). However, pay for this position is much higher in many cities in California, including San Jose ($112,800) and San Francisco ($112,700).
The survey, conducted semi-annually, reflects data submitted by 172 organizations covering more than 210,690 pharmacy employees in 22 different jobs and 380 metropolitan areas across the U.S. Support for the survey comes from such pharmacy operators as CVS Caremark, Giant Food Stores, Kroger, Longs Drug Stores, Meijer, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, Tops Markets and Walgreens.