Pharmacists are a key part of our health care system, dispensing prescription medications to patients and offering expert advice in the safe use of medications. As the Baby Boom Generation ages, the demand for prescription medication is steadily increasing, meaning more opportunities for pharmacists. Given this high demand, pharmacists have the option to settle down in a variety of locales, but where exactly are the best opportunities for pharmacists?
Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 380 U.S. cities to determine the most attractive cities for pharmacists to pursue their careers in. We list the top 50 cities for pharmacists below, and we also break down the top small, midsize, and large cities for pharmacists.
Our analysis found that many of the best cities for pharmacists are small and midsize cities. Smaller cities have, on average, older populations as compared to big cities, fueling higher demand for prescription medications and more job opportunities for pharmacists. Coupled with lower costs of living, smaller cities won out in our study, with 9 of the top 10 and 45 of the top 50 cities having populations under 500,000.
Best Cities for Pharmacists
1. Tyler, TX
Located in east-central Texas, Tyler was the top city in our study of the best cities for pharmacists. Tyler is known as the “Rose Capital of America,” a nickname given to the city based on its rose-growing industry, which blossomed in the early 20th century. Today, Tyler is considered the manufacturing, health care, educational, and retail center of the region, with two regional hospital centers, multiple higher education institutions, and a university health science center. CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and UT Health East Texas serve all of the East Texas region, providing care to thousands of patients each year, and are also the #1 and #2 employers, respectively, in Tyler. Tyler’s strong health care industry provides ample opportunities for pharmacists.
The city of Tyler has 32% more jobs for pharmacists than the average American city. Pharmacists earned an average salary of $174,870 in Tyler, which exceeds the national average by an astounding 41%. Those salaries go far in Tyler, as the city boasts a cost of living 7% below the average U.S. city.
2. Gadsden, AL
Gadsen was the #1 small city in our study for pharmacists. Located on the Coosa River northeast of Birmingham, Gadsden was historically an important center for commerce and industry, developing as a major river port in the 19th century. Today, manufacturing still plays a large role in Gadsden’s economy, with companies like Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company being Gadsden’s top employer. The health care industry has also grown in Gadsden, and the Gadsden Regional Medical Center and Riverview Regional Medical Center are both top employers for the city.
Pharmacists in Gadsden earned an average annual salary of $148,970, which is 20% above the national average salary for pharmacists. The city had a cost of living that was 19% below the national average and hosted 24% more jobs for pharmacists than the average city.
3. Springfield, MO
Springfield is located in southwestern Missouri and is the third-largest city in the state. Springfield has a diversified and strong economy, anchored by the health care, manufacturing, retail, and education sectors. Health care is the largest industry in Springfield, and the top two employers in the city are health care institutions Mercy Health System and CoxHealth. Springfield’s robust health care industry provides favorable conditions for those practicing pharmacy.
Springfield hosts an incredible 112% more jobs for pharmacists on a per-capita basis compared with the U.S. average. Additionally, salaries for pharmacists in Springfield average $133,650, 8% above the national average, while the cost of living is 15% below the national average.
4. Danville, IL
Situated on the eastern border between Illinois and Indiana, Danville is a small city in Vermilion County, which is lush with over 15,000 acres of public parkland. In the late 19th century, Danville became a major industrial city, with coal mining providing much of the economic growth in the city from the 1840s to 1950s. As coal mines began to close in the latter half of the twentieth century, Danville’s economy diversified. Today, Danville’s top industries are health care, manufacturing, and retail trade. Danville’s health care sector is its largest industry, with top employers including the Veteran’s Affairs Illiana Health Care System, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Danville pharmacists earn on average $124,440, about half a percent higher than the national average, while benefiting from one of the lowest costs of living in our study, clocking in at 21% below the national average. Danville also boasts 101% more jobs for pharmacists compared with the average U.S. city.
5. El Paso, TX
El Paso was the #1 large city in our analysis of best cities for pharmacists. Located at the far western point of Texas, El Paso shares its southern border with Mexico and western border with New Mexico. Given its location, El Paso serves as a center for international trade, but the city also boasts an incredibly diverse economy. Health care is the city’s largest industry, but other sectors like education, retail, hospitality, government, and manufacturing also play an important role in the city’s economy. El Paso is the medical hub of West Texas and Southern New Mexico, and the city is home to a number of top medical centers, including the Medical Center of the Americas, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and El Paso Children’s Hospital.
The only large city in our top 10, El Paso benefits from a low cost of living, 17% below the national average, while also hosting 17% more jobs for pharmacists on a per-capita basis compared with the national average. Pharmacists in El Paso also enjoy an above average salary of $145,110, exceeding the national average by 17%.
Top Cities for Pharmacists by City Size
Forty-five of the top 50 best cities for pharmacists were small or midsize cities, but the small town atmosphere may not be ideal for every pharmacist. In order to highlight this distinction in lifestyle preference, our study segments cities into different sizes based on population, listing the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for pharmacists.
Top 50 Cities for Pharmacists
The top 50 cities for pharmacists are listed below. We also include data on the total number of jobs for pharmacists, the number of jobs per capita, average annual salaries, and the cost of living index.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|5||El Paso, TX||Large||$145,110||760||1.17||83|
|13||Wichita Falls, TX||Midsize||$131,160||120||0.97||77|
|15||Rocky Mount, NC||Small||$135,850||120||1.05||81|
|22||Terre Haute, IN||Midsize||$127,250||190||1.3||80|
|23||Fort Smith, AR||Midsize||$129,640||300||1.3||82|
|30||Johnson City, TN||Midsize||$115,460||310||1.85||83|
|35||Cape Girardeau, MO||Small||$123,890||140||1.55||87|
|41||Hot Springs, AR||Small||$115,540||150||1.95||90|
|45||Battle Creek, MI||Small||$123,780||140||1.2||83|
|49||Bowling Green, KY||Midsize||$135,190||140||0.9||86|
|50||Pine Bluff, AR||Small||$117,460||70||1.12||78|
AdvisorSmith’s analysis included several distinct factors in determining the best cities for pharmacists to pursue their careers in.
1. Average annual salaries for pharmacists
Our analysis used the average annual salaries that pharmacists earn in each city, with cities offering higher salaries scoring more highly in our study.
In 2018, the average annual salary for pharmacists in the U.S. was $123,670.
2. Cost of living index for each city
We adjusted the salaries earned by pharmacists in each city by a cost of living index. The cost of living, including necessities such as rent, transportation, and groceries, varies by city, so it is important to normalize the salaries so that the cities can be compared fairly. Cities with more affordable lifestyles were ranked more highly in our study.
3. Density of jobs for pharmacists in each city
Our study leveraged a location quotient, which represents the number of jobs available to pharmacists, relative to the national average. Cities with a higher location quotient have a higher concentration of jobs for pharmacists, which means more career opportunities and more demand for pharmacists in those cities. Cities with higher location quotients ranked more highly in our study of the best cities for pharmacists.
In 2018, there were 309,550 pharmacists employed in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also predicts that employment for pharmacists will grow at a 6% pace over the 10-year period of 2016-2026, which is in line with the national job growth outlook.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index