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Become A Pharmacist

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Working As A Pharmacist

  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Processing Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $108,002

    Average Salary

What Does A Pharmacist Do

Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.


Pharmacists typically do the following:

  • Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients
  • Check whether prescriptions will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or any medical conditions the patient has
  • Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about potential side effects they may experience from taking the medicine
  • Give flu shots and, in most states, other vaccinations
  • 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 to treat a health problem
  • Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to ensure 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
  • Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients

Some pharmacists who own their pharmacy or manage a chain pharmacy spend time on business activities, such as inventory management. Pharmacists also must take continuing education courses throughout their career to keep up with the latest advances in pharmacological science.

With most drugs, pharmacists use standard dosages from pharmaceutical companies. However, some pharmacists create customized medications by mixing ingredients themselves, a process known as compounding.

The following are examples of types of pharmacists:

Community pharmacists work in retail stores such as chain drug stores or independently owned pharmacies. They dispense medications to patients and answer any questions that patients may have about prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or any health concerns that the patient may have. They also may provide some primary care services such as giving flu shots.

Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. They spend little time dispensing prescriptions. Instead, they are involved in direct patient care. Clinical pharmacists may go on rounds in a hospital with a physician or healthcare team. They recommend medications to give to patients and oversee the dosage and timing of the delivery of those medications. They also may conduct some medical tests and offer advice to patients. For example, pharmacists working in a diabetes clinic may counsel patients on how and when to take medications, suggest healthy food choices, and monitor patients’ blood sugar.

Consultant pharmacists advise healthcare facilities or insurance providers on patient medication use or improving pharmacy services. They also may give advice directly to patients, such as helping seniors manage their prescriptions.

Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists work in areas such as marketing, sales, or research and development. They may design or conduct clinical drug trials and help to develop new drugs. They may also help to establish safety regulations and ensure quality control for drugs.

Some pharmacists work as college professors. They may teach pharmacy students or conduct research. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become A Pharmacist

Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited pharmacy program. They must also be licensed, which requires passing licensure and law exams.


Prospective pharmacists are required to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, a postgraduate professional degree. In July 2014, there were 130 Doctor of Pharmacy programs fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

Admissions requirements vary by program, however, all Doctor of Pharmacy programs require applicants to take postsecondary courses such as chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Most programs require at least 2 years of undergraduate study, although some require a bachelor’s degree. Most programs also require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

Pharm.D. programs usually take 4 years to finish, although some programs offer a 3-year option. Some schools admit high school graduates into a 6-year program. A Pharm.D. program includes courses in chemistry, pharmacology, and medical ethics. Students also complete supervised work experiences, sometimes referred to as internships, in different settings such as hospitals and retail pharmacies.

Some pharmacists who own their own pharmacy may choose to get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) in addition to their Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Others may get a degree in public health.


Following graduation from a Pharm.D. program, pharmacists seeking an advanced position, such as a clinical pharmacy or research job, may need to complete a 1- to 2-year residency. Pharmacists who choose to complete the 2-year residency option receive additional training in a specialty area such as internal medicine or geriatric care.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states license pharmacists. After they finish the Pharm.D. program, prospective pharmacists must pass two exams to get a license. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) tests pharmacy skills and knowledge. The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific test on pharmacy law is also required. Applicants also must complete a number of hours as an intern, which varies by state.

Pharmacists who administer vaccinations and immunizations need to be certified in most states. States typically use the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program as a qualification for certification.

Pharmacists also may choose to earn a certification to show their advanced level of knowledge in a certain area. For instance, a pharmacist may become a Certified Diabetes Educator, a qualification offered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, or earn certification in a specialty area, such as nutrition or oncology, from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Certifications from both organizations require varying degrees of work experience, as well as passing an exam and paying a fee.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Pharmacists must provide safe medications efficiently. To do this, they must be able to evaluate a patient’s needs and the prescriber’s orders, and have extensive knowledge of the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.

Communication skills. Pharmacists frequently offer advice to patients. They might need to explain how to take a medicine, for example, and what its side effects are. They also need to offer clear direction to pharmacy technicians and interns.

Computer skills. Pharmacists need computer skills to use any electronic health record (EHR) systems that their organization has adopted.

Detail oriented. Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill. They must be able to find the information that they need to make decisions about what medications are appropriate for each patient, because improper use of medication can pose serious health risks.

Managerial skills. Pharmacists—particularly those who run a retail pharmacy—must have good managerial skills, including the ability to manage inventory and oversee a staff.

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Pharmacist jobs

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Pharmacist Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Vietnamese

  • Chinese

  • Arabic

  • Hindi

  • Mandarin

  • Korean

  • Russian

  • Cantonese

  • German

  • Urdu

  • Gujarati

  • Portuguese

  • Italian

  • Japanese

  • Polish

  • Thai

  • Greek

  • Amharic

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Pharmacist Education


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Real Pharmacist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Pharmacist Greene Pharma, LLC Catskill, NY Mar 23, 2016 $160,000
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Norfolk, VA Feb 15, 2015 $159,530
Pharmacist Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. Fort Oglethorpe, GA Jul 03, 2016 $158,429
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Yreka, CA Oct 23, 2016 $157,443
Pharmacist Kingsley Pharmacy, LLC Houston, TX May 26, 2015 $156,525
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Yreka, CA Oct 23, 2015 $155,878
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Fresno, CA Oct 11, 2016 $155,064
Pharmacist Db Medical Supplies, Inc. New York, NY Oct 28, 2016 $154,336
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Selma, CA Feb 10, 2016 $154,229
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Reedley, CA Sep 22, 2016 $153,916
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Clearlake, CA Jan 10, 2016 $153,728
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Tulare, CA Dec 20, 2015 $153,624
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Kerman, CA Oct 18, 2016 $152,601
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. MD Sep 19, 2016 $127,557
Pharmacist Lenox Terrace Pharmacy Inc. New York, NY Mar 11, 2015 $127,500
Pharmacist Walgreen Co. Vail, AZ Jul 07, 2015 $127,400
Supervising Pharmacist Broadway Chemists Inc. D/B/A Ace Drugs Pharmacy Newburgh, NY Feb 03, 2015 $127,400
Pharmacist Walgreen Co. Tucson, AZ Dec 13, 2015 $127,400
Pharmacist Asp Management Inc. Corpus Christi, TX Jun 01, 2015 $127,307
Pharmacist Rite Aid Corp. Forked River, NJ Sep 30, 2015 $127,203
Pharmacist ARTH LLC Lehigh Acres, FL Jan 04, 2016 $111,717
Pharmacist Bisht LLC Arcadia, FL Jun 08, 2015 $111,550
Pharmacist Rotary Apothecary LLC Stratford, CT Sep 10, 2015 $111,500
Pharmacist JAI Chamunda Inc. Elk Rapids, MI Jan 09, 2016 $111,425
Pharmacist Nacogdoches County Hospital District Nacogdoches, TX Mar 18, 2016 $111,405
Pharmacist Slavins-Hancock Pharmacy, Inc. Stamford, CT Apr 06, 2015 $111,363

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Top Skills for A Pharmacist


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Top Pharmacist Skills

  1. Retail Pharmacy
  2. Drug Therapy
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Processed and dispensed prescription orders for retail pharmacy that did over two thousand scripts per week.
  • Reviewed existing treatment regimens and identified, prevented and resolved drug therapy problems including inappropriate/ineffective/unsafe therapy and/or issues related to compliance.
  • Assumed the responsibility of customer service liaison.
  • Arranged and delivered medications to patients Computer inputting
  • Research and deliver answers to Drug Information questions to pharmacists and other medical staff

Top Pharmacist Employers

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