Pharmacist is Top Earning Job for Women. Includes the Perk of Equal Pay.

Female pharmacists are psyched. Photo: Getty Images/Steve DebenportAttention, ladies: Turns out a lab coat and a handful of Xanax are key ingredients to a successful career.

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Pharmacist was the top-paying job for women in 2012, with an approximate median salary of $97,500. That’s according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data crunched by Forbes for a story published Thursday.

“It’s also in demand, growing at a faster-than-average rate of 25% and projected to add 70,000 jobs between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS,” wrote blogger Jenna Goudreau.

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Not only was pharmacist the biggest paying position, it was one of the most gender blind, with women—who comprise 52% of all pharmacist positions—earning dollar for dollar what their male counterparts earn. And that’s a rarity, given that the gender wage gap widened slightly in 2012, with women now making about 81 cents for every dollar earned by men.

“The position of pharmacist is probably the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today,” Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in a September 2012 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research. They attributed this not to changes in legislation or anti-discrimination policies, but to the profession’s changing structure, including a growing flexibility in work hours, that has worked in women’s favor. 

To become a pharmacist, students can enter a six-year professional doctorate program directly from high school. Upon graduation, jobs can vary greatly—from dispensing medication from behind the Walgreen’s counter to taking on more clinical roles, like handling medication management programs, counseling patients and doling out immunizations.

It’s all a big change from the 1960s, when only about 8% of pharmacists were women, according to a recent CNN Money piece looking at the shifting profession. That’s because the rise in chains offered less rigid work schedules and needed bigger staffs. The American Pharmacists' Association elected its first female president in 1979 and marketed this new flexibility to women, the piece notes, which was a game changer.

Other high earning careers for women, according to the Forbes story, include lawyers, physicians, software developers and computer systems analysts, though the wage gap in those fields—with women earning 80%, 68%, 81% and 85% of their male counterparts, respectively—has yet to be closed. In general, jobs in health care, business and science are tops.

Still, with the lowest earning job on the list raking in an approximate median income of $65,000 a year (computer systems analyst), the report’s not all bad—especially coming after February’s news, that secretary is the most common job for women in 2013. Just like in the ’50s.

The Top 10 Best Paying Jobs for Women (with approximate median annual incomes):
1. Pharmacist ($97,500)
2. Chief Executive ($90,000)
3. Lawyer ($85,000)
4. Nurse Practitioner ($79,500)
5. Computer and Information Systems Manager ($79,500)
6. Physician/Surgeon ($74,000)
7. Physician Assistant ($71,000)
8. Software Developer, Applications and Systems Software ($71,000)
9. Management Analyst ($69,000)
10. Computer Systems Analyst ($65,000)

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