How do you research the pharmacist job market?

Use these three words to network well: Give. Ask. Receive.

An article written for CareerStaff RX by
Tony Guerra

While many articles publish data and trends on the pharmacist job market, few explain how to do the research for your particular situation. Recognizing that conversations about moving often involve what ifs, I’m going to shy away from giving my opinion of the market. Instead, I’d like to outline how I research it for myself, as well as my friends and colleagues.

In this post I’ll share:

1) How to research the market demand

2) How to research the market supply

3) How to look at the two together


1) How to research the market demand

With giant moves happening in pharmacy such as CVS buying Aetna, Amazon obtaining pharmacy licenses, the continued pharmacy school expansion, provider status on the Capitol Hill docket, and an uncertain future for the Affordable Care Act, looking back to see forward can only get you so far. However, it is important to see where we’ve been. I’m going to take you through what I look at as I assess the job market to keep abreast of opportunities for my friends and colleagues.

United States View

The ten-year picture of pharmacist jobs gives us excellent perspective to zoom in from. This is how I start each search:

  • Website:
  • Click on: “Trend Data” (in the left hand navigation bar)
  • Checkbox: Show me, “National Trend Data”
  • Over the last: “10 Years”
  • Click: “Show trends”

This graph shows nationally that pharmacist demand for jobs has stayed between a 3 and 4 for most of the last 10 years until the third quarter of this year where it angles sharply between a 2 and 3, at 2.68. The numbers represent:

  1. Demand is less than the pharmacist supply available
  2. Demand in balance with supply
  3. Moderate demand; some difficulty filling open positions

The third quarter downturn is a little disconcerting, but I can’t predict the future. In 2016, the 4th quarter brought a sharp upturn, in 2015 a sharp downturn. Knowing that the big picture view is a downturn quarter tells us we may need to look more carefully at individual states.


State-by-state view Part I

To zoom in, go to the statewide indicators on the “PDI by State” on the left hand navigation bar to look at the states you are considering in the third quarter of 2017.

Four states show clear saturation. Utah, Wyoming, and New Hampshire all have PDIs of 2.00. Tennessee becomes the fourth state to dip below the 2.00 threshold in the last 10 years with a score of 1.80. Anecdotally, we might attribute this to the state having six colleges of pharmacy, five of them established in the last 12 years. However, six states remain above the 3.00 mark: Alaska, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. This list of states, for the flexible applicant, might help narrow your watch list.


State-by-state view Part II

Few new graduates look to a floater or part-time position with an average indebtedness of $160,000, so our next step is to find how many jobs are available in a state and of what quality.

By going to you can search the job listings for the states that interest you. Instead of putting “pharmacist” into the search bar, I use the “Advanced Search,” then click on “pharmacist” and “clinical pharmacist” to get a good picture of how many jobs are available.

In New Hampshire, as we expect, we see only 4 jobs; either PRN, float, or a night position. This may also be true in states with many independent pharmacies relative to retail or large health systems. In California, we see 234 positions. If you’re committed to a state with a more challenging job market, it’s important to set your expectations accordingly.


2) How to research the market supply

Supply is especially difficult to calculate because there are a certain number of pharmacists that will leave the profession each year and a number of graduates who will enter the profession. Just because a person goes to school or is a resident in one state doesn’t mean they’ll stay. What can we do to give ourselves a reasonable idea of what the job market will look like in a particular state?

More importantly, as you go into a job, you want to know how many graduates will continue to flow into your state after you’ve earned a position to know if pay increases might be in your future. Let’s use Tennessee as an example because it has a particularly large new influx of graduates. If you go to this website you can click on the six pharmacy schools in Tennessee and get an idea of how recent the influx is.

Go to “Select Institutions” then click “All” to clear all of the fields. Then click on the six colleges: Belmont, East Tennessee State, Lipscomb, South-TN, Tennessee, Union and then “Apply.” You can see that in 2006, the University of Tennessee graduated 122 students. Ten years later, in 2016, the six colleges graduated 496; about four times as many pharmacists – or an increase of 306 percent (496-122/122).

However, in Wisconsin, a state with two pharmacy schools (and a third starting a new class), we see that there has only been a move from 120 graduates in 2006 to 204 in 2016, a 41 percent increase (204-120/204). There is a new pharmacy school in Wisconsin with 40 students that enrolled its first class. However, Milwaukee is often considered part of the combined Chicago market for job purposes.


3) Matching Demand and Supply

With a PDI of 1.80 in Tennessee in the 3rd quarter and a 306 percent increase in graduating pharmacists over the last 10 years versus a PDI of 3.67 in Wisconsin with a 41 percent increase in graduating pharmacists, it becomes clear which state might afford a better long-term career opportunity. But what if you want to work in a challenging market state?  That’s where networking comes in.

This networking buzzword often leads pharmacy job seekers astray. What does networking mean? What does it mean to network well? The dictionary, in its definition, creates a misconception that networking is about the needs of the person reaching out. It is not. It is about a person reaching out finding places where they can give meaningfully through their work efforts. Hiring managers may look to other social media platforms as well, but often that is just to make sure you are not posting things that might be offensive.


Networking on social media

If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re in trouble. By far, the pharmacist’s platform of choice is LinkedIn for business relationships and job opportunities. The time to develop these relationships, however, is way before you need them. A LinkedIn user with just a few connections and a new account looks like they are simply coming to ask for your connections. When a person looks to see if they should add you, they look to see how many common connections you already have. I’ve built almost 3,000 connections on LinkedIn not to get a job, but to learn how I can help those in my network.

Use these three words to network well: Give. Ask. Receive.


Networking through relationships

It goes back to win-win. An employer wants a great employee and an employee wants a great employer. When you talk to someone who already knows what the employer wants, you are in a much better position. Whether you are building connections through your own network or by working with a staffing agency, the most important thing you can do is be a very active part of the process. While your vision might have been to jump right into a dream job immediately after college, often someone who is already working per diem or part-time for a company will get the job before it’s ever advertised.

Once you’ve read through all we’ve covered today, I recommend reading this article next to better understand the role of the staffing agency in this job market.

No matter the position you have your eye on, I wish you the best in your pharmacy journey.

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