How To Become A Pharmacist

A pharmacist dispenses medications to patients that have been ordered by physicians. Pharmacists answer questions about medications, fill prescriptions, give immunizations, and more. They work with customers as well as physicians in order to fill prescription requests. They have extensive knowledge about medicines. In order to become a pharmacist, a person must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and be licensed in their field.

Why Become A Pharmacist

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals, whose expertise is in pharmacology. They understand medicines, what each medicine does, how medicines affect the human body. They also understand medicines intended effects, their side effects, possible contraindications, and more. Pharmacists use their expertise to fill prescriptions written by physicians and other healthcare professionals. They verify instructions from doctors in order to dispense the correct amount of medication.

A pharmacist checks to see whether the prescription written will interact negatively with other drugs the patient is taking. They instruct patients on how to take the medicine, how much to take, how to store it, when to take the medicine and potential side effects. Pharmacists answer any other questions a patient or customer may have. Often, people come to see a pharmacist to get immunizations. This can be a seasonal flu vaccine and other types of vaccinations. They oversee the work of the pharmacy technicians that work with them.

A pharmacist is a good job for somebody who enjoys medicine, wants to be knowledgeable about drugs and their interactions, and wants to work in healthcare but not deal directly with patients.

Pharmacists should possess the following qualities and skills:

Pharmacist Work Environment

About half of all pharmacists work in a designated pharmacy or drug store. Others may work in hospitals, merchandise stores, grocery stores, and other places. A pharmacist is on their feet the duration of the day. They work filling prescriptions, staying observant that they are filling orders properly. This is not a position that involves working directly with patients or customers.

They may have to occasionally answer phones to talk with patients, check on prescriptions, or talk to customers in person and answer questions. A pharmacist has a very fast-paced job, since they are fulfilling hundreds of prescription orders each day. They often have to multitask between using the computer, filling prescriptions, talking to physicians to ask questions, and talking to customers.

Pharmacist Salary

The median annual salary for pharmacists was $125,000 in 2017. There are many factors that go into determining the wage of an individual. There are many venues that a pharmacist can work – such as a drug store, a grocery store, a hospital, and more – however this has little impact in the level of salary that a pharmacist makes. Pharmacists seem to make the same amount of money regardless of what facility they work in. With additional experience and education, a pharmacist may be able to earn a better salary.

Average Pharmacist Annual Salary


The average annual salary for pharmacists is $121,710 a year. Salaries start at $87,420 a year and go up to $159,410 a year.

Average Pharmacist Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a pharmacist is $58.52. Hourly wages are between $42.03 and $76.64 an hour.

Stats were based out of 309,330 employed pharmacists in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Pharmacists

Top Paying Cities For Pharmacists

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Pharmacist Career Outlook

Employment for pharmacists is expected to increase by six percent from 2016 to 2026, which is the average rate of growth for other occupations in the United States. This will result in approximately 17,000 new jobs for pharmacists over this 10 year period.

Pharmacy is an industry that will always be needed. People will have injuries and illnesses, that will require medications in order to treat and get them on the path to healing. Pharmacists fill medication requests from physicians and other healthcare professionals. They are available to answer questions for customers about their medications, such as the appropriate dosage to take, when to take their medication, what types of medications might interact with each other, and other questions. Pharmacists will continue to be needed because of their expertise in the world of pharmaceuticals and medicine.

Pharmacist Degree

The first step to becoming a pharmacist is attending undergraduate college. Programs such as chemistry, biology, physics, biochemistry, and more will be very useful to those seeking to become pharmacists. In these degree programs, students will take lecture courses as well as hands-on laboratories. Many pharmacy programs require classes in chemistry, biology and more. These years will help provide insight into whether a career in science is what one truly wants to do. It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The next step is to enter into a PharmD program. Students must take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test in order to apply to pharmacy school. In the United States there are more than 100 pharmacy schools available.

Pharmacy programs involve an in-depth study of pharmacology. Students take courses in chemistry, medical ethics, and more. They have internships at local hospitals and pharmacies. A PharmD program typically takes four years to complete. They must also take continuing education classes in order to maintain their license.

Pharmacist Coursework

Below we have listed a sample of some of the courses you will likely take during a pharmacy degree program.

Pharmaceutical Calculations, Dispensing and Compounding: Students in this laboratory course will learn to compound and dispense pharmaceuticals. This includes interpreting prescription orders, calculations, compounding procedures, dosage form components, product packaging and labeling.

Pharmacology: Students will learn about the actions of various drugs, including their intended effects, the action it takes upon various organs and systems of the body, side effects, interactions with other medications, and more.

Medicinal Chemistry: This is an advanced chemistry course geared towards the medical profession. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the chemistry of medicines. They will study antidepressants, sedatives, antianxiety medications, opioids, and more. They will learn the individual chemistries of these drugs and how they work on the body.

Pharmacist Career Path

Career Overview Responsibilities Education Required Benefits
Pharmacy Technician A pharmacy technician assists a pharmacist with providing medications to customers. Their responsibilities include filling prescriptions in the pharmacy, packaging and labeling, answering phone calls from customers, organizing inventory, and more. On the job training is all that is needed to become a pharmacy technician. This is a great entry level job for somebody who wants to be introduced to the field of pharmacy and learn if a career as a pharmacist is right for them.

Related Pharmacist Careers

Being a pharmacist is a rewarding career. If you think you might enjoy being a pharmacist, there are other careers you may enjoy as well. Below we have listed some careers which are similar to that of a pharmacist.

Pharmacy Technician: Pharmacy technicians are the assistants to pharmacists. They help pharmacists dispense medications to customers.

Registered Nurse: Nurses provide patient care in a healthcare setting, such as a clinic or a hospital. They are the highest level of nursing obtainable. They perform tests, take samples, and educate patients about various health conditions. They work together with physicians.

Physician: Physicians diagnose and treat various injuries and illnesses. They examine patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications and more. There are many different specialties for physicians, including family medicine, pediatrics, neurology, dermatology, surgery, and more. A physician decides which specialty in medicine they wish to go into.

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