Pharmacist Job Overview
Pharmacists deliver medications to patients and advise them on side effects, proper use and contraindications. Pharmacy professionals also commonly counsel patients on healthy living, perform health and wellness checks and administer immunizations. The duties of pharmacist jobs typically include:
- Filling prescriptions according to doctors' directions
- Reviewing patients' other prescriptions to check for possible negative interactions
- Informing patients on when and how to take their medications
- Offering general health advice to patients
- Providing vaccinations and flu shots
- Filling out insurance paperwork and collaborating with insurers to see that patients get the prescriptions they need
- Supervising pharmacy interns and technicians
Pharmacists work in the pharmacies of clinics, hospitals, grocery stores and retail drug stores. Similar occupations include biochemist jobs and pharmacy technician jobs.
Pharmacist Job Education Requirements
As with medical scientist jobs, pharmacy careers require a doctoral degree from an accredited program. To be admitted to a Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D., program, applicants must have at least two years of undergraduate work, although some programs require a bachelor's degree. The degree takes four years to complete and usually involves supervised internships at retail pharmacies and hospitals.
Upon graduation, pharmacists must obtain licensure by passing two exams: the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam, which tests pharmacological knowledge, and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam on pharmacy law. Pharmacists seeking clinical pharmacy or research positions usually also complete a one- or two-year fellowship upon graduation in a specialty area.
Pharmacist Job Market
Currently, the U.S. has 287,420 pharmacist jobs, and that number will grow by 14 percent by 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 14-percent figure is about average for all occupations. Three factors will contribute to growth in the profession: an aging population that requires more medication, increased incidence of chronic disease necessitating drug treatment, and the development of more and more new drugs. Hospitals and clinics will experience especially high demand for pharmacists, as they will need professionals to monitor patients' medications and handle duties like blood sugar and cholesterol testing.
Pharmacist Job Salary Information
Pharmacists made an average of $116,500 in 2013 according to the BLS. Those in the 90th percentile for earnings made $147,350, while those in the 10th percentile made $89,000. Pharmacists who work in general merchandise stores had the highest average salary, making $125,240, while those who work in electronic shopping and mail-order houses had the lowest average salary, making $111,820. The states with the highest-paying pharmacist jobs are Alaska ($133,030), California ($129,560), Maine ($127,520) and Vermont ($122,800).