Objective. To describe the current landscape within the profession of pharmacy regarding student tuition, indebtedness, salaries, and job potential.
Methods. Pharmacy tuition and student debt data were obtained through the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Institutional Research website. Tuition was defined as average first-year tuition and fees for accredited schools. Debt was defined as the total average amount borrowed. Median salaries and numbers of jobs were obtained from the United States Department of Labor.
Results. In-state tuition at public schools rose an average of $1,211 ± 31 (r2 = 0.996), whereas out-of-state tuition at public schools rose significantly faster at $1,838 ± 80 per year (r2 = 0.988). The average tuition cost for pharmacy school has increased 54% in the last 8 years. The average pharmacist salary has risen from $75,000 to over $112,000 since 2002. The increase in salary has been nearly linear (r2 = 0.988) rising $4,409 ± $170 dollars per year. However, average salary in 2011 was $3,064 below the predicted value based upon a linear regression of salaries over 10 years. The number of pharmacist jobs in the United States has risen from 215,000 jobs in 2003 to 275,000 in 2010. However, there were 3,000 fewer positions in 2012 than in 2011. In 2011, average indebtedness for pharmacy students ($114,422) was greater than average first-year salary ($112,160).
Conclusion. Rising tuition and student indebtedness is a multifaceted problem requiring attention from a number of parties including students, faculty members, universities, and accreditation and government entities.