Lately, I have been getting the question “is pharmacy school is worth it?” What does this exactly mean? There are two ways to look at this question. Either from a financial standpoint or career perspective. Personally, I tend to look at things at a financial perspective. I believe this has been ingrained into me growing up in a low-modest income family. We will examine both perspectives below in more detail:
Is Pharmacy School Worth it?
Financial Perspective: Going to college does not equal high paying job compared to the past. Today colleges are handing out diplomas for bachelors degrees as long as you pay your tuition. To be of any value to businesses you must have desirable skills or specialized knowledge. The major you choose will always have variable outcomes. However, some majors will give you a higher probability of employment, higher salaries, and career development opportunities.
First lets compare how long it would take before a pharmacist breaks even in net worth compared to a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician Scenario: Graduates high school at the age of 18 and starts working at a retail pharmacy full time as a pharmacy assistant. For 1 year they are an assistant training to become a technician at no cost. After one year they start earning a technician wage. Then they switch over to hospital pharmacy which pays much better.
Pharmacist Scenario: Graduates high school at the age of 18 and starts college which costs $12,394 per year in tuition (University of Washington (UW) for 2015). The typical pharmacy graduate does 4 years of undergraduate courses and an additional 4 years of pharmacy school. This pharmacist will be 26 years old when they finally start earning significant income.
To keep things simple. Here are the assumptions:
- Using the estimated expenses for college from the UW website it is about $8,000 per year living at home with parents.
- Inflation is not accounted. Therefore expenses and pay increases will remain stagnant on this chart for both technician and pharmacist.
- It is also assumed that both pharmacy technician and pharmacist save a majority of their income and both do not increase their standard of living.
- Income Column: This is take home after estimated taxes and expenses removed ($8,000 above mentioned).
- Invest 6% Column: Return on investment each year from money saved. This is a modest estimate for investing in the stock market over the long term.
- Pharmacist Total School Debt: This was calculated using 4% interest rate for undergraduate tuition and 6% interest rate for Pharmacy School tuition. Also did not include yearly increase in cost for tuition to keep things simple. At a rate of $5,000 monthly payments the student loan debt was paid off after about 4 years.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
– Albert Einstein
As a Pharmacy Technician the compound interest just snowballs with more years to build. As you can see in the chart the Pharmacist has a net worth of ZERO beginning at year 13. The Pharmacist has a 13 year delay before they have a positive net worth.
So if you ask me: “if Pharmacy School is really worth it?” From a financial perspective it is not worth it. There are plenty of other professions that require much less school and debt with very similar pay if not more. Look at the tech industry. If you are a skilled programmer you can easily make more money than pharmacists without any school. Engineers generally only need 4 years of college. They may start initially with lower pay, however with time and experience engineers get paid just as well as pharmacists, if not more! Thus it is important to understand that pharmacy should be your passion and what you want to do for your career and not for money.
What are you thoughts?
Also Read: “Is Pharmacy School Worth It? Part II”
For all the students and recent graduates upset about my post. Just take away the positives from this article. You will try to prove me wrong by paying off your debt at an accelerated rate and invest a majority of your income to build your net worth (why do you think I punish myself working 2 jobs and have 4 other hobby income streams). This will help the rest of us because you have a higher probability of not defaulting and thus avoid having the taxpayers cover student loan debt. Thank you!
I hope the recommendations above will help guide, motivate, and inspire you to achieve your goals. Follow my blog for more tips and advice on finances and being a pharmacist. What are your experiences? Please comment below and share your thoughts.