Best Cities for Pharmacists

Best Cities for Pharmacists

There are essential professions and nonessential professions. A 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 identical.

We're here to identify the very best cities for pharmacists to work in, considering four categories that pharmacists care about: number of jobs, the demand for their services, their annual average salary and the cost of living.

5 best 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's 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. The South Carolina Pharmacy Association has about 1,500 members and was established 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:

Average salary
Location quotient
Cost of living
1Huntington, WV$126,2904702.0485101
2Modesto, CA$140,0204501.29101102
3Stockton, CA$130,8406301.42103104
4Florence, SC$130,0502501.4496120
5Sebastian, FL$133,6501401.4395120
6Chico, CA$142,3801901.26118130
7Gadsden, AL$155,9401001.2882132
8Roanoke, VA$125,4305101.5889133
9La Crosse, WI$127,1902401.5394137
10Greenville, NC$125,2102801.6892142
11Cape Girardeau, MO$133,5701201.3392148


Ocean City, NJ$129,5001201.42166154
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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.