Even in Tough Times, Pharmacist Is Hot Job

ByABC News
April 25, 2002, 3:21 PM

N E W  Y O R K, April 27 -- When Monica Gendi graduated from pharmacy school last year, her top job offer was $90,000, "plus a small signing bonus," she said.

That was at 23 years old, for her first pharmacy job.

And that's not unusual, even in a slow job market for most college graduates.

Four Philadelphia College of Pharmacy students graduating this year told ABCNEWS they can each make roughly $80,000 salary. Plus, there are $10,000 sign-on bonuses, or relocation fees.

The big drug chains are so desperate they even send students little things in the mail.

"I've gotten calculators and all kinds of interesting little trinkets," said Kathy, one of the Philadelphia graduates.

Not that they even need calculators.

"You can have mine," joked Stacy, another Philadelphia graduate.

Prescription Drugs More Popular

Mark Miller, an analyst with Chicago's Blair & Company said as more conditions get treated with pills, as baby boomers age and as drug companies advertise more aggressively, the number of prescriptions in America has risen at about 6.5 percent a year.

At the same time, however, "the number of pharmacists available in the industry is only increasing by about a 1 percent rate."

Put the two trends together, and you get a pharmacist's gap, because, by law, all those prescriptions must be checked by a pharmacist.

"Can't do without them," Gendi said.

Miller expects starting salaries to stay up at $80,000 and $90,000 for quite a while, as does Monica, who has got a sibling.

"I have one brother who is also in pharmacy school," she said. "He's right behind me."

ABCNEWS' Robert Krulwich contributed to this report.