Job Description

Pharmacists advise patients and health care providers on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Job security
  • Excellent pay
  • Flexibility: You can work part-time and still make a good living.
  • Making a positive impact on a patient’s health.
The Inside Scoop
Different types of pharmacists

Community Pharmacists

  • Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients.
  • Check whether the prescription will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or conditions the patient has.
  • Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine.
  • Advise patients on potential side effects they may experience from taking the medicine.
  • Advise patients about general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or supplies would be best for a health problem
  • Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to be sure that patients get the medicines they need.
  • Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns).
  • Keep records and do other administrative tasks.
  • Place of work: Community pharmacies (chains like CVS and independent pharmacies), hospitals.
  • Downside: Will probably have to work weekends.

Clinical Pharmacists

  • Direct patient care. Assists doctors in recommending medications to patients and monitors therapeutic outcomes.
  • Place of work: Hospitals and ambulatory care clinics.


  • Measure and deliver the radioactive materials which are used in digital imaging (MRI, CT, etc).
  • Place of work: Medical offices and hospitals.

Consultant Pharmacists

  • Advise healthcare facilities or insurance providers on how to make pharmacy services more efficient and ensure they are compliant with all applicable state laws.
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Lots of schooling!
  • Will be on your feet for many hours of the day.  
  • Might work nights/weekends.
Current Industry Trends
  • For the past 10 years or so, pharmacy has been moving towards getting even more involved with direct patient care meaning there are more clinical pharmacists.
  • Knowing more than one language is quite useful, especially Spanish.  “I can't tell you how many times I've needed a translator when trying to communicate with patients!” – Tony Bui, Licensed Pharmacist
  • The industry is continuing to grow and that there's still a demand for pharmacists; however, because more and more pharmacy schools keep opening up, it's only a matter of time before the market might get too saturated. 
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education Needed
  • A 4-year Bachelors of Science degree is mandatory.
    • Take required classes during college to apply (vary per pharmacy school): human anatomy, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry and organic chemistry.
  • Take and pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test).
  • Attend 3-4 year PharmD graduate program and obtain a PharmD degree.
  • Get Licensed: Must pass 2 exams. One is the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination). The other is state-specific for pharmacy laws of that state.
Things to look for in an University
  • NAPLEX pass rates: Shows the percentage of students who passed the board examinations for each school.
  • % of students that do a residency (if you’re interested in being a clinical pharmacist).
  • National ranking is not as important.
Things to do in college
  • Get involved with the pre-pharmacy club in college.
  • Do healthcare community work (i.e. diabetes and blood pressure screenings).  
  • Take required classes during college to apply (vary per pharmacy school): human anatomy, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry and organic chemistry.
Typical Roadmap
Pharmacist roadmap gif
How to Land your 1st job

Typically during your 4th year (P4), the pharmacy school will host a job fair.  This is the best opportunity to get as many interviews in one day.  If you know you want to work for a specific company early on, you should get a job as a technician/intern while in school.  They typically offer jobs to their own employees first before they will consider others.

Qualities of those who climb the ladder
  • Excellent leadership qualities
  • Results-driven
  • Self-motivated
  • Good time management skills
  • Genuine interest in pharmacy
Plan B

Alternate careers: NursePhysician AssistantPharmaceutical Representative.

Words of Advice

“Try to find a pharmacy that will allow you to shadow a pharmacist for a few days.  This will help you figure out if pharmacy is for you.  Do not limit yourself to just a community pharmacy. That setting is not for everyone.” – Tony Bui, Licensed Pharmacist


Click here to download the infographic

Pharmacist Gladeographix


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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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