Pharmacist Careers








$111,000 /yr

$53.00 /hr

All Stats from

Pharmacists work to dispense medications to patients on a prescription basis—and deliver advice regarding how to safely take medications. The job description includes filling prescriptions and consulting with physicians to verify type and proper amount of medication. A pharmacist evaluates the patient’s other prescription drugs to determine possible interaction problems. Pharmacists also consult with patients and doctors regarding side effects of particular medications.

In addition to the above, pharmacists are health advisors—delivering advice on diet, exercise, stress management, and other health-related issues. Many pharmacies sell health-related equipment and supplies in addition to medications, and pharmacists usually advice customers on these as well.

Pharmacists also deal with insurance companies, manage interns and pharmacy technicians, and educate other health care personnel about medications and treatment.

Where Will You Work?

For a pharmacy. Some pharmacists are employees of pharmacy chains or stores. Others manage their own pharmacies; pharmacists who do this often spend considerable time on inventory management, finance, and other non-pharmaceutical aspects of the business. Most pharmacists sell only standardized doses of a particular medicine, but pharmacists who have the credential to “compound” can customize treatment by mixing different medications together.

For a university. Some pharmacists work as researchers and educators at universities. This job may involve the research and testing of new medications.

For a pharmaceutical company. Some pharmacists are researchers and developers, working to create new medications and markets.

For an insurance company. Some pharmacists work for insurance companies to make pharmacy services more efficient, or comnicate directly with patients regarding proper use of prescription medications.

For a hospital. Clinical pharmacists usually don’t dispense medications themselves; instead, they are part of a medical team involved directly in patient care. They may counsel patients on how to take medications or accompany doctors on rounds.

How to Become a Pharmacist

Complete at least two to three years of undergraduate study. While some Pharm.D. programs require a Bachelor’s degree for admission, others don’t—and the minimum requirement for admission is often two or three years of undergraduate study. While there is no specific major required, applicants are expected to have taken chemistry, biology, anatomy, physics, and other relevant courses. Many Pharm.D. programs will require a certain number of credits in these areas.

Earn a Pharm.D. A Doctor or Pharmacy (or Pharm.D.) degree often takes approximately four years to complete—although there are a handful of programs that offer an accelerated three-year degree. The Pharm.D. degree includes courses in pharmacology and other relevant topics, as well as supervised experience working in hospitals, retail pharmacies, and other locations. Entry into Pharm.D. programs can be highly competitive.

Depending on your specialty or goals, you may decide to take a one- or two-year residency afterwards, earn an MBA, or get a degree in a subject such as public health. It’s possible in some cases for your education in the field to take eight years or more in total.

Get Licensed. All pharmacists must be licensed at the state level. While licensing requirements vary by state, most pharmacists must pass two exams—one in pharmacy expertise and the other in state-specific law affecting the field—before they can practice. They must also graduate from a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

Becoming a Pharmacist With an Online Degree

Medical fields in general are not easy to enter with an online medical degree The hands-on component for pharmacists is crucial, and it’s unlikely you will be able to satisfy it with a program that takes place entirely online—unless the school partners with local facilities to deliver that hands-on component. Either way, you will be doing a lot of in-person work.

However, it may be possible to find a traditional Pharm.D. degree program that administers a portion of its lecture-based classes in an online format. Be sure whichever program you choose is accredited by the ACPE.

Pharmacist Salary

Pharmacists earned a median wage of $111,570 as of 2010, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The highest earners brought home more than $138,620, while the lowest earned under $82,090.

Job Outlook for Pharmacists

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the employment rate for pharmacists is projected to increase by 25% within the next decade. The increase is likely to be driven by scientific discoveries that lead to development of new medications; the growing population of older Americans who need medication; and increased insurance coverage for medication under new health care laws.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pharmacist

While the education requirement for this career is high, it is not as high as many other high-level medical careers—such as becoming a doctor or surgeon. Pharmacists in many cases do not have to complete a Bachelor’s degree before entering a Pharm.D. program—and once they graduate, the pay is high.

While most pharmacists work full-time, approximately 21% were working part-time as of 2010—which could be a benefit if you are in search of a less demanding schedule, but a drawback if you need medical insurance or full-time hours. In addition, because many pharmacies are open 24 hours and seven days a week, some pharmacists must work late or irregular hours.


Where to Look for Pharmacy Jobs:

Health Callings
RX Career Center