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Pharmacy Careers

Career Description

A Pharmacist distributes prescription drugs to individuals. They also advise their patients, as well as physicians and other health practitioners, on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications.

Common Work Tasks

  • Monitor the health and progress of patients to ensure the safe and effective use of medication
  • Work in a community setting, such as a retail drugstore, or in a health care facility, such as a hospital, nursing home,  mental health institution, or neighborhood health clinic
  • Dispense medications, counsel patients on the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and advise physicians about patients’ medication therapy
  • Advise patients about general health topics such as diet, exercise, and stress management, and provide information on products such as durable medical equipment or home health care supplies
  • Complete third-party insurance forms and other paperwork
  • Sell non-health-related merchandise, hire and supervise personnel, and oversee the general operation of the pharmacy
  • Advise the medical staff on the selection and effects of drugs
  • Plan, monitor and evaluate drug programs or regimens
  • Keep confidential computerized records of patients’ drug therapies to prevent harmful drug interactions
  • Delegate prescription-filling and administrative tasks and supervise their completion

Other Job Titles

Pharmacists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Anesthesiologists
  • Pharmacy Technicians
  • Physicians
  • Internists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Pharmacists must earn a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited college or school of pharmacy.  The Pharm.D. degree has replaced the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, which is no longer being awarded. To be admitted to a Pharm.D. program, an applicant must have completed at least 2 years of postsecondary study, although most applicants have completed 3 or more years. Other entry requirements usually include courses in mathematics and natural sciences, such as chemistry,  biology, and physics, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

Certification and Licensure
A license to practice pharmacy is required in all States, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories. To obtain a license, a prospective pharmacist must graduate from a college of pharmacy that is accredited by the ACPE and pass a series of examinations. All States, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia require the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which tests pharmacy skills and knowledge. Forty-four States and the District of Columbia also require the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which tests pharmacy law. Both exams are administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Each of the eight States and territories that do not require the MJPE has its own pharmacy law exam. In addition to the NAPLEX and MPJE, some States and territories require additional exams that are unique to their jurisdiction.

  Prospective pharmacists should have scientific aptitude, good interpersonal skills, and a desire to help others. They also must be conscientious and pay close attention to detail, because the decisions they make affect human lives.


The median annual salary for a Pharmacist is $100,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $126,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $73,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of pharmacists are:

  • Health and Personal Care Stores - $100,170
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals- $98,530
  • Grocery Stores - $97,820
  • Department Stores - $100,750
  • Other General Merchandise Stores - $103,600

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  22%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 53,000
  • Employment 2006 : 243,000
  • Employment 2016:  296,000
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