is pharmacy school worth it?

Is Pharmacy School Worth It?

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:

See “Is Pharmacy Worth It? Part II

Is Pharmacy School Worth it?

Financial PerspectiveGoing 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.

Net Worth
After 30 years time the net worth of a Pharmacy Technician is still greater than a Pharmacist. Why is this you may ask?

“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.

19 thoughts on “Is Pharmacy School Worth It?

  1. Robert Malphing

    Great Article, this illustrates WHY these idiots in pharmacy school need to pay off their debts as soon as possible. Keeping up with the Joneses attitude is only asking for further trouble. Thank you for the # crunching!

  2. ThePharmacistBlog Post author

    Just to clarify the numbers a little bit more. There are people questioning the numbers. Please read “assumptions” section. Also these numbers are taking from real life scenarios in addition to Seattle average salaries.

    I averaged out my take home pay if I were only working one job and expenses. Also I know a new tech grad, his 1st year out of school he gross 60k before taxes and lives at home averaging a savings rate of 3k a month.

    I know another veteran tech who clears 100k gross majority of her years being a tech because of all the OT she gets.

    Thats why I believe my numbers are fairly conservative IF you live at home with your parents as stated above which both pharmacist and tech are. Also you save and invest majority of your savings. Obviously this is not the case for everyone but the whole point of the article is to point out even if you aggressively pay off pharmacy school you do not have a positive net worth until 12-13 years after high school. Also be conscious about how much debt you are taking on.

  3. Matt Kim

    Oh my. Imagine the people going to a school more expensive than University of Washington in the range of $40-$50,000 per year, spending their paycheck instead of investing and saving, and partying like it’s no tomorrow. This is going to inevitably happen to a good number of graduates who are just NOT SMART about anything these days leading to their ultimate demise. A destroyed credit score, loans they will never escape, and ruined finances for life.

  4. Pred

    This is skewed statistics. Person making 60k a year would be able to save a lot faster and more “%”. Sure, the 28k earner could also save up more cash/% but he can only do so much before paying for everything else they have to. While 60k gives you a lot more leeway, long as you keep your spending in check. But that works both ways. And they get a better style of living all those years even if they did only save up a small/normal amount.

    Consider that for future blogs plum. Oh, and how do you end up with someone making 60k a year saving only ~$300 more than someone making less than half that amount. You have failed this blog.

    1. ThePharmacistBlog Post author

      The numbers are just to illustrate the importance of saving and debt. Let me ask you, how many people would actually pay off 200k debt w/ interest in 4 years. People have a hard time paying off a house mortgage in 30 years. That part of the stats is skewed as well.

      Also read the ASSUMPTIONS

  5. Anonymous

    Check your numbers…. you don’t add all of your interest column together like you do the income. The number at year 30 in the investing column is what you are left with… The pharmacist makes more in take home in 30 years than the tech does with take home + investing

  6. Pingback: Is Pharmacy School Worth it? Part II - The Pharmacist Blog

  7. Guest

    Always interested to read what you post! Love the last part (“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.”) I’m a current P1 in pharmacy school.

  8. Kevin

    I’m a manager for Walgreens and I can tell you the 3 pharmacists I have make $57.95 an hour. That’s 110k and that’s the starting pay.

  9. Anonymous

    So how does the student make $5,000 monthly payments for the student loans if they are making $60,000 yearly income seeing as that is all they have?

  10. akhilaryaakhil

    Recently, I have been getting the inquiry is pharmacy school is justified, despite all the trouble? What does this precisely mean? By and by, I tend to take a record of things from a money-related point of view. I trust this has been imbued with me experiencing childhood in a low-unobtrusive wage family. We will look at the two points of view underneath in more detail. Graduates secondary school at 18 years old and begins school which costs $10,325 every year in educational cost. Run of the mill drug store graduate does 4 years of college classes and an extra 4 years of pharmacy school. This drug specialist will be 26 years of age when they at long last begin gaining critical wage.


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