"Competition, and a shortage of pharmacists, came into play," Maine said.
She points to the early 2000s, when Walgreens alone was adding a new store nearly every 17 hours. The chain would sometimes hire nearly half of all new pharmacy grads nationwide, she said.
The boom is still going: The Labor Department expects the field to grow 25% between 2010 and 2020, adding about 225,000 jobs. Pharmacists are taking on more clinical roles, like administering immunizations, blood pressure screenings and medication management programs.
"Most people thought of pharmacists as the person behind the counter, counting pills from a big bottle to a small bottle," Maine said. "That never was a very accurate depiction, and is especially inaccurate now. All of our new grads are trained to offer many services."