Nuclear Pharmacist Careers

ENTRY LEVEL EDUCATION

Healthcare Bachelor Degrees

CAREER TRAINING

Pharmacy Technician Certification

NUMBER OF JOBS

274,900

JOB OPENINGS

69,700

JOB GROWTH

25%

AVG. SALARY

$111,570 /yr

$53.64 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Radioactive materials, while dangerous, are also used both to diagnose and treat diseases. Because radioactive materials can be so detrimental to a patient’s heath, a specialized level of expertise is needed in preparing them for medical use—in drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools. That’s where a nuclear physicist comes in.

What is the Nuclear Pharmacist Job Description?

Nuclear pharmacists obtain radioactive materials—either from a third-party supplier or from an in-house generator. After assuring the quality of the material, the pharmacist uses it to prepare the final medical or pharmaceutical item. In this way, their job is similar to a traditional pharmacist’s—they prepare a medical product in response to a “prescription” from a hospital. However, these medical products are highly specialized and can be dangerous if not well executed.

Where Should I Look for Nuclear Pharmacist Jobs?

Medical centers and hospitals. Some nuclear pharmacists work directly within hospitals and medical centers to provide radiopharmacological products. A large percentage of the time, nuclear pharmacists are employed through larger organizations that have the resources to maintain their own in-house nuclear pharmacy.

A centralized nuclear pharmacy. Some nuclear pharmacies are third-party providers, offering their services to hospitals that subscribe to them. This is how most hospitals obtain nuclear pharmacy services when needed.

A research institution. Some nuclear pharmacists work in research and development within academic or private settings. In academia, this position may also require teaching and publication, as well as a PhD degree.

How Hazardous Are Nuclear Pharmacist Jobs?

Nuclear pharmacy is sometimes understood to be a dangerous field—as there is potential for significant radiation exposure. However, nuclear pharmacists are well-versed in methods of protecting themselves against overexposure. Protection methods include leaded glass shielding and syringe shields, working with radioactive materials in lead-lined containers, and tungsten shielding, which is more expensive than lead but also more effective and less toxic.

What does a Nuclear Pharmacist’s Education Consist Of?

Typically, you would need to earn a pharmacy degree before specializing in nuclear pharmacy—and it usually takes about four years to earn. The pharmacy school you attend must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). To get admitted to pharmacy school, you don’t necessarily need to complete a Bachelor’s degree. However, most Pharm.D programs require a certain amount of credits in subjects such as chemistry, biology, and physics.

About a third of pharmacy schools require their applicants to pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) as well. This test assesses students’ knowledge of biology, chemistry, and math, as well as verbal ability, reading comprehension, and writing.

Once you are accepted into a Pharm.D program, you may be able to concentrate your studies in the area of nuclear pharmacy. Some schools offer a certificate program in nuclear pharmacy that requires a certain number of hours of study in addition to the requirements for the traditional pharmacy program. In addition, it’s possible to earn a Masters or PhD degree in the subject. However, nuclear pharmacy is a highly specialized field and programs that focus in it are rare.

Typically, nuclear pharmacists must hold a traditional pharmacy license in their state. The licensing process involves passing two exams—one in pharmacy expertise, the other in state-specific pharmacy law. Requirements for the licensing exam vary by state, but usually include graduation from an ACPE-certified pharmacy school.

Most states don’t require an additional license for nuclear pharmacy—the exception is Florida, which requires nuclear pharmacists to earn a radiopharmacist license through the Board of Pharmacy.

Those who want to strengthen their credentials can also earn a professional certification from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in nuclear pharmacy. They offer a Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist qualification with stringent requirements. These include a pharmacy degree by an ACPE-accredited school or an equivalent foreign school; a current pharmacy license; 4,000 hours of training or experience in nuclear pharmacy; and a passing grade on the certification examination.

There are a variety of ways applicants can earn the 4,000 hours of training and experience. The Board will recognize up to 1,500 hours of undergraduate or postgraduate training; up to 2,000 hours for those with a Masters or PhD degree in nuclear pharmacy; and completion of a Nuclear Pharmacy Certificate program. You can also earn the full 4,000 hours through a residency or internship, or hands-on professional experience.

Can I Become a Nuclear Pharmacist With an Online Degree?

In many cases, you should be able to complete the pre-requisites for pharmacy schools through an online program. However, this is case-by-case depending on the school—and you should double check with pharmacy schools you may want to attend to determine eligibility.

In general, some online Pharm.D and online certification programs are more accepted than others. For instance, among its accepted ways to earn academic credits toward certification, the Board of Pharmacy Specialties includes the Nuclear Education Online Program offered by the Universities of New Mexico and Arkansas—each worth 250 hours. Other certification programs are approved by the board on a case-by-case basis. You should make sure any online degree program you sign up for has a strong in-person lab component.

Nuclear Pharmacist Salary

The median salary for nuclear pharmacists in the United States is approximately $116,013, according to Salary.com Compensation can vary, of course, depending on experience, level of education, and the area where you work.

Nuclear pharmacy is a highly specialized field. There are not a large number of positions available—but earning targeted credentials in this area could lead to a stable and rewarding career. When researching schools, look for a pharmacy school that’s ACPE-certified and has a nuclear pharmacy program—not all of them do—or check out the Board of Pharmacy Specialties’ list of approved certificate programs.

Where to Find Nuclear Pharmacist Jobs:

SimplyHired.com

Indeed.com

Nuclear Pharmacy Jobs