Pharmacist Workforce and Education in California


Connie Kwong and Janet M. Coffman

July 31, 2020

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who work with patients, physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive the safest, most effective and least costly medications. They communicate knowledge about drugs, dispense drugs and manage patients whose chronic conditions require drug therapy. This report presents an overview of California’s pharmacist workforce and the pipeline of pharmacy (PharmD) students.


  • California pharmacists make up a larger share of the nation’s pharmacists than those of any other state.
  • While the majority of the overall pharmacist workforce in the United States is White, Asians account for the largest percentage of pharmacists in California.
  • Women make up close to two-thirds of pharmacists, both in California and nationwide.
  • From 2012 to 2018, the number of California PharmD graduates increased by 32%. This increase was largely due to the opening of five new schools of pharmacy.
  • Although new pharmacists can begin practicing general pharmacy following graduation and licensure, new graduates are increasingly choosing to complete residencies after graduation.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration predicts a national surplus of full-time or equivalently employed pharmacists of between 4.8% and 14.1% by 2030.
  • Future demand for pharmacists will depend, in part, on whether pharmacists achieve national recognition as health care providers who can bill insurers for their services.