Go West, young pharmacist

The pharmacy profession continues to pay well, though where somebody practices has much to do with just how well, according to the 2004 Pharmacy Compensation Survey — Spring Edition by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Pharmacists saw an average increase from 2003 to 2004 of 5 percent.

Nationally, staff pharmacists were paid a median total cash compensation (which includes base salary and annual bonus) of $88,400 this year, compared to $84,200 in 2003.

Other pharmacy-related positions, including pharmacy team manager, clinical pharmacist, and staff pharmacist, also saw increases in median total compensation. Base pay for pharmacy professionals has shot up in recent years, according to the survey, with retail pharmacists at CVS and Walgreen's paid up to 4 percent more in 2004 than in 2003.

Location plays a significant role in compensation. Compared to the national median for total cash compensation, pay for a staff pharmacist is much lower in many cities, including Omaha, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Mo., and New Orleans.

Pay for this position is much higher in many California cities, including Fresno, Modesto, and San Francisco.


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