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Best Cities for Pharmacists

There are essential professions and nonessential professions. The pharmacist performs an essential service. Every city has one, and most cities have a bunch of them. But no two pharmacists are the same (even if they fill a prescription the same way), just as no two cities are idential. We're here to identify the very best cities for pharmacists to work in, considering four categories that all pharmacists care about: number of jobs, the demand for their services, their annual average salary and the cost of living. 

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Best Five Cities for Pharmacists

Of the 396 cities reporting data, these five earned our best score, comprising the aforementioned factors. Chief among them is the average paycheck: The 290,780 pharmacists employed in the U.S. in May 2014 earned a median salary of $118,470, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Huntington, WV*

Taking our top spot as the best city for pharmacists, Huntington's cause was helped by having the study's third-best location quotient, a metric that speaks to the demand for the profession within the metropolitan statistical area. Huntington also turned out to be the most affordable city to live among the top five here; it is actually 15% cheaper to live in the West Virginia city than it is in the average American town. Add in this fact: Two of Huntington's largest employers are in the healthcare realm -- Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center -- and it hosts Marshall University and its pharmacy school.

*Statistical region includes: Ashland, KY

2. Modesto, CA

One of two cities to rank in the top three (and one of six to crack our top 30), Modesto climbed to No. 2 thanks, in part, to sporting the nation's seventh-highest average annual salary. Pharmacists here are paid $140,020 annually, which is 16% better than the study's average. The California Pharmacists Association is based an hour-plus drive north, in Sacramento. On the way is the next city on our list... 

3. Stockton, CA

About 35 miles north of Modesto, Stockton slid into the third spot with more jobs for pharmacists (630) than any of its peers in the top five. Of course, the usual heavyweights led in this category: New York (11,390), Los Angeles (7,450) and Chicago (7,090). Stockton is the most populous city to crack the top five. Oakland, its even more populous neighbor, is home to Kaiser Permanente, one of the country's largest employers of pharmacists. California as a whole certified 582 pharmacists in 2014.

4. Florence, SC

Besting the fifth city on this list by a mere 0.2 margin in score, Florence posted solid scores in every category we studied, including the country's 30th-highest salary and 41st-best location quotient. Here is what a Florence CVS was looking for in a pharmacist. The South Carolina Pharmacy Association has about 1,500 members and was established way back in 1876.

5. Sebastian, FL*

The metro statistical area comprising Sebastian rounded out the top five. Pharmacists here, some of whom work at Walmart, earn an average annual salary of $133,650 despite living in a city that is 5% more affordable than a given American town. The Florida Pharmacy Association is based in the northern half of the state, in Tallahassee.

*Statistical region includes: Vero Beach, FL 

Top 100 Cities for Pharmacists

Here are the top 100 cities for pharmacists to work and live:

Rank City  Average Salary Jobs Location Quotient Cost of Living Score
1 Huntington, WV $126,290 470 2.04 85 101
2 Modesto, CA $140,020 450 1.29 101 102
3 Stockton, CA $130,840 630 1.42 103 104
4 Florence, SC $130,050 250 1.44 96 120
5 Sebastian, FL $133,650 140 1.43 95 120
6 Chico, CA $142,380 190 1.26 118 130
7 Gadsden, AL $155,940 100 1.28 82 132
8 Roanoke, VA $125,430 510 1.58 89 133
9 La Crosse, WI $127,190 240 1.53 94 137
10 Greenville, NC $125,210 280 1.68 92 142
11 Cape Girardeau, MO $133,570 120 1.33 92 148
12 Ocean City, NJ $129,500 120 1.42 166 154
13 Rochester, MN $123,080 390 1.72 103 157
14 Knoxville, TN $126,880 890 1.25 84 165
15 Dothan, AL $122,680 210 1.77 88 170
16 Yuba City, CA $136,850 100 1.23 107 170
17 Asheville, NC $126,890 480 1.29 105 171
18 Kingsport, TN $129,600 300 1.21 89 171
19 Wilmington, NC $124,940 430 1.37 102 175
20 Winston-Salem, NC $124,920 600 1.33 90 175
21 Utica, NY $129,830 310 1.20 101 175
22 Anderson, SC $122,510 220 1.66 88 183
23 Bakersfield, CA $136,970 680 1.07 96 189
24 Camden, NJ  $124,120 1,380 1.26 91 191
25 Brownsville, TX $139,810 300 1.06 78 192
26 Nashville, TN $120,500 2,560 1.45 105 200
27 Albany, GA $127,540 150 1.20 88 213
28 Danbury, CT $130,970 170 1.12 133 218
29 Jackson, MS $122,670 670 1.24 86 222
30 Madera, CA $129,380 100 1.18 97 222
31 Cumberland, MD $122,940 110 1.38 91 226
32 Hanford, CA $136,910 90 1.09 96 229
33 Corpus Christi, TX $126,240 450 1.12 86 230
34 Springfield, MO $126,930 460 1.10 87 231
35 Pensacola, FL $123,460 400 1.19 91 233
36 Fresno, CA $143,980 690 0.97 101 236
37 St. Cloud, MN $130,730 230 1.08 93 237
38 Oakland, CA  $137,310 2,140 0.97 144 240
39 Gary, IN  $120,260 750 1.31 86 242
40 Riverside, CA $131,860 2,650 0.99 109 244
41 Durham, NC $120,830 760 1.25 113 251
42 Saginaw, MI $121,260 230 1.28 85 255
43 Vallejo, CA $130,080 270 1.03 111 258
44 Canton, OH $128,280 370 1.04 88 258
45 St. Joseph, MO $122,980 130 1.21 86 259
46 Sacramento, CA $132,180 1,780 0.97 117 260
47 Lake Havasu City, AZ $138,960 100 1.01 93 260
48 Lubbock, TX $122,530 330 1.15 85 268
49 Fort Lauderdale, FL  $120,220 1,940 1.19 97 273
50 Gulfport, MS $120,670 270 1.22 91 276
51 Athens, GA $117,610 270 1.59 96 277
52 Glens Falls, NY $119,100 170 1.50 110 277
53 Anniston, AL $140,830 90 0.98 88 277
54 Columbus, GA $127,310 250 1.03 91 281
55 Columbia, MO $122,350 230 1.16 95 282
56 Myrtle Beach, SC $120,070 310 1.25 97 282
57 Charlottesville, VA $119,740 280 1.31 109 286
58 Medford, OR $120,070 210 1.28 103 289
59 Kansas City, MO $119,870 2,520 1.16 90 290
60 Peoria, IL $122,000 420 1.10 86 295
61 Duluth, MN $123,420 290 1.08 96 297
62 Springfield, IL $122,610 260 1.10 90 297
63 Florence, AL $121,750 130 1.18 92 298
64 Goldsboro, NC $129,020 90 1.03 91 298
65 Santa Ana, CA  $129,450 2,950 0.92 155 308
66 Elmira, NY $127,300 80 1.05 96 308
67 Miami, FL  $114,300 3,700 1.64 112 308
68 Decatur, IL $122,760 110 1.11 81 308
69 Visalia, CA $128,910 290 0.97 103 308
70 Longview, WA $128,010 80 1.04 100 309
71 Gainesville, GA $122,540 180 1.10 93 309
72 Danville, IL $117,300 90 1.59 85 311
73 Spokane, WA $115,510 660 1.50 91 312
74 Brunswick, GA $117,650 120 1.43 89 313
75 Oklahoma City, OK $114,910 1,870 1.44 86 315
76 Wheeling, WV $121,320 150 1.12 86 318
77 Wichita, KS $119,490 710 1.14 87 319
78 Corvallis, OR $118,420 100 1.41 120 319
79 Port St. Lucie, FL $116,780 370 1.35 91 319
80 Flint, MI $112,510 540 1.87 76 321
81 Wichita Falls, TX $123,420 130 1.05 79 323
82 Bangor, ME $118,200 180 1.31 102 325
83 Albuquerque, NM $115,680 1,090 1.37 103 330
84 Redding, CA $138,070 110 0.91 111 330
85 Johnson City, TN $112,550 310 1.93 90 331
86 Eugene, OR $125,690 300 0.98 103 334
87 Fort Wayne, IN $121,060 470 1.05 86 334
88 Milwaukee, WI $125,970 1,640 0.93 95 336
89 McAllen, TX $132,830 440 0.86 79 336
90 Memphis, TN $111,080 2,260 1.76 75 336
91 Phoenix, AZ $119,210 4,280 1.09 90 336
92 Youngstown, OH $120,120 510 1.08 85 338
93 Topeka, KS $118,530 280 1.18 86 339
94 Portland, ME $129,910 390 0.90 114 341
95 Fayetteville, NC $124,180 260 0.99 94 343
96 Terre Haute, IN $122,670 150 1.03 82 344
97 Racine, WI $124,450 160 1.00 91 344
98 Macon, GA $124,690 200 0.98 85 346
99 Huntsville, AL $123,210 440 0.98 96 347
100 Hattiesburg, MS $112,130 230 1.93 87 348

What's It Like Working in...?

We asked pharmacists in various parts of the country to tell us about their surroundings. Stay tuned for their answers.

Are you a pharmacist with something to say? Find us @VP_Careers.

Methodology

These were the three key questions we asked in coming up with the list. 

1. What can pharmacists earn in the city?  

We ranked the best cities for pharmacists based on the median annual pay. Income is likely the most important factor people consider when starting their career or relocating elsewhere. A high salary in an expensive city, however, may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our next metric takes affordability into consideration.

2. How affordable is it to live in this city?  

Now that we have the median salary, we’ll look next at the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how far earnings can be stretched. Cities with lower cost of living index numbers ranked higher in our study. For example, the average city is benchmarked at 100. A city with a cost of living index of 188, such as Honolulu, would mean that generally speaking, living expenses are 88 percent more expensive compared to the average city.

3. What is the location quotient for pharmacists in the city?  

A place with a high median salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our third factor accounts for this by favoring cities with high location quotients. Location quotient measures the concentration of pharmacists in an area as a percentage of all occupations, and then compares that to the national average. We interpret a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a pharmacist's services.

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