Originally created 07/17/02

Augusta is leader in pharmacist pay



Augusta pharmacists enjoy the highest median income in the state, according to a recent survey of independent and chain pharmacists, but a local association is asking for a second opinion.

On hearing the news, Augusta Area Pharmaceutical Association President Ramona Kalpokas was baffled: "We make more than pharmacists in Atlanta? Are you kidding?"

According to Mercer Human Resources Consulting, a global company that tracks the pharmaceutical industry, Augusta pharmacists make a median income of $81,100 a year; Atlanta pharmacists make $79,200.

"My guess is you don't have a lot of 23-year-old pharmacists working in Augusta," said Mike Jacobs, a Mercer consultant. "You have a lot of older pharmacists, who typically make more. Atlanta has two colleges, Emory and Mercer, that churn out a lot of young pharmacists ... and they don't have to pay them as much."

The study covered only chain and independent retail pharmacies - not hospital operations, where pay is typically $10,000 to $20,000 lower, Ms. Kalpokas said.

With Augusta's dense medical community, if hospital pharmacists were factored into the survey the area's median income for pharmacists likely would plummet, she said.

Incomes for retail pharmacists are high because there are not enough pharmacists in the area, she added.

"One of the reasons Augusta's salaries are somewhat higher is there's less of a supply and more of a demand," she said. "Because of that, you have to offer the new pharmacists a higher salary to begin with."

Future editions of the survey, released twice a year, will include pay information for pharmacy personnel in hospital and health care settings, retail chains and independents and online and mail-order pharmacies.

SALARIES BY CITY

Augusta's retail pharmacists enjoy the highest median total cash compensation, which includes salaries and bonuses, among Georgia's largest cities.

Augusta: $81,100

Athens: $80,500

Atlanta: $79,200

Columbus: $79,000

Macon: $79,000

Savannah: $79,000

Source: Mercer Human Resource Consulting's 2002 Pharmacy Compensation Survey, Spring Edition

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.