An Overview of Pharmacist Careers

Key facts about a career as a pharmacist

 If you are interested in a career as a pharmacist, this comprehensive page provides all the information you will need about careers as a pharmacist, including a career overview, career path options, videos about becoming a pharmacist and working as a pharmacist, and a salary information.

Pharmacist Career Overview

What is a pharmacist and what do pharmacists do? How do you become a pharmacist? This article outlines the career responsibilities, pros and cons of being a pharmacist, and educational requirements.

There is a lot more to being a pharmacist than many people realize, including the administrative work, the long work hours, and the patient interaction. Pharmacists don't select or prescribe medication, but their role is crucial. They use their knowledge to ensure the drugs prescribed for a patient do not have unwanted interactions, the dosage and administration are correct, and the prescription is appropriately and accurately packaged. They educate the patient on how to take the medication, recognize reactions and avoid problems.

Pharmacy School Tips

One thing standing between you and your pharmacy career is graduate school — specifically, pharmacy school, where you will need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.). The course of study is for two years of undergraduate college coursework and then four years of pharmacy school. The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is required for admission to pharmacy school.

This tip sheet will help demystify the process and provide additional resources to walk through the process and get accepted into a pharmacy program so you can begin pursuing your dream career as a pharmacist. The number of pharmacy graduates ballooned almost 85 percent in the decade between 2003 and 2014 and it's expected to keep growing. But competition is high for slots at pharmacy school.

Career Paths and Types of Pharmacists

When people think of a career as a pharmacist, they often envision the person behind the counter at the drug store or hospital pharmacy. However, there are many different paths pharmacists can take besides retail pharmacy (working in a drug store). Learn more about the types of pharmacists' careers including nuclear pharmacists, clinical pharmacists, pharmaceutical benefit managers, and more.

Salary for Pharmacists

This salary chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has many useful facts, figures, and maps showing how much pharmacists are making in different areas of the country.

The pharmacist salary page at depicts the compensation levels for pharmacists from year one through twenty-plus years. Pharmacists have very competitive starting salaries, but you may notice that they don't show much growth in earnings as years pass. Twenty years later, they're earning about $20,000 more than starting pharmacists. Again, the income for pharmacists is strong, and they are among the higher-earning health professionals, but don't expect your salary to grow by leaps and bounds.

The page is also very interesting in showing the salaries at popular employers, most of which are major pharmacy chains or supermarket chains. 

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