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Could You Succeed as an Independent Pharmacist?

Could You Succeed as an Independent Pharmacist?

Heather Stringer | Monster Contributing Writer

“I enjoy being my own boss so much,” Weekley says. “It’s like being an author. Authors come up with their own ideas and write their own books. I can see a customer need and can choose to address it in my own time frame.”

Entrepreneurial Endeavor

Weekley opened his own pharmacy in 1978 but says starting out that way now is much more difficult. It’s more common today for established pharmacists to sell their businesses to budding pharmacists.

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Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist

That’s how John Tilley, RPh, president of the NCPA, began his career as an independent druggist in Downey, California. Tilley worked for a seasoned pharmacist for six years. When the owner decided to retire, Tilley bought the owner’s three pharmacies. During the next two decades, Tilley opened 17 new pharmacies in a southern California grocery chain.

As a new business owner, Tilley worked long hours and assumed a certain amount of risk. To pay off the original owner, he took a lower salary than what he paid his staff pharmacists. After eight years, he was finally debt-free, and his salary doubled. His compensation continued to increase as his pharmacies thrived.

Independent pharmacy owners earned average annual pretax compensation of about $136,000 in 2004, says Douglas Hoey, RPh, the NCPA’s chief operating officer. By comparison, staff pharmacists posted median cash compensation of $108,700 nationwide, according to the “2008 US Pharmacy Compensation Survey” from Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

High Risk, High Reward

Tilley’s days of long hours are long gone. He now works just two to three days a week as he oversees his business.

“If I had it to do over again, I’d do it the same,” Tilley says. “There is more risk as an independent, but there is more reward. You get to be your own boss and run the business the way you want to. You also learn through your mistakes, and you can’t do those things if you are working for someone else.”

This article originally appeared on Monster Career Advice.

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