What is a Pharmacist

Have you ever dreamed of being a legal drug dealer? Well, that's probably not going to happen anytime soon, but becoming a pharmacist is the next best thing. Pharmacists are in charge of filling prescription medications for patients, while being able to explain how to use those medications properly. In general, they work in pharmacies which can be found in drug, general merchandise and general stores.

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.

Learn more about what a Pharmacist does

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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Average Salary for a Pharmacist

Pharmacists in America make an average salary of $119,686 per year or $58 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $134,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $106,000 per year.
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Pharmacist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Pharmacist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Pharmacist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Pharmacist resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Pharmacist Demographics

Pharmacist Gender Statistics


53.3 %


40.7 %


5.9 %

Pharmacist Ethnicity Statistics


63.9 %


22.7 %

Black or African American

6.7 %

Pharmacist Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics


35.8 %


7.9 %


7.4 %
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Pharmacist Education

Pharmacist Majors

74.2 %
6.2 %

Pharmacist Degrees


54.5 %


27.5 %


5.5 %

Top Colleges for Pharmacists

1. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

3. University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

4. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

6. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI • Private

In-State Tuition

7. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition

9. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
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Top Skills For a Pharmacist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.8% of pharmacists listed customer service on their resume, but soft skills such as computer skills and managerial skills are important as well.

  • Customer Service, 13.8%
  • Pharmacy Services, 9.9%
  • Patient Care, 8.8%
  • Drug Therapy, 7.6%
  • Company Policies, 7.0%
  • Other Skills, 52.9%
  • See All Pharmacist Skills


Best States For a Pharmacist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a pharmacist. The best states for people in this position are California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Pharmacists make the most in California with an average salary of $159,842. Whereas in Oregon and Washington, they would average $157,916 and $151,722, respectively. While pharmacists would only make an average of $151,358 in Alaska, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total Pharmacist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total Pharmacist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Vermont

Total Pharmacist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Pharmacists

How Do Pharmacist Rate Their Jobs?

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What do you like the most about working as Pharmacist?

Pay is fair for a starting pharmacist (CVS). The technicians are alright. 401K Helping people (and I really mean it). Show More

What do you NOT like?

Typical pharmacist complaints like tired legs, stress, etc. Terrible work-life balance. You make a good amount of money, sure, but there's a point where money doesn't bring happiness like it used to. Show More

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my review.June 2019


Zippia Official Logomy review.June 2019

What do you like the most about working as Pharmacist?

it helps a lot. i really needed this. Show More

What do you NOT like?

i like everything. theres nothing i dont like. Show More

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Pharmacist : Not a Very Good career choiceApril 2019


Zippia Official LogoPharmacist : Not a Very Good career choiceApril 2019

What do you like the most about working as Pharmacist?

The ability to make a difference in someones Health and Wellness Show More

What do you NOT like?

Inability to balance Life and Work and Family Show More

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Top Pharmacist Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ pharmacists and discovered their number of pharmacist opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that CVS Health was the best, especially with an average salary of $123,059. Rite Aid follows up with an average salary of $128,175, and then comes Walgreens with an average of $130,011. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a pharmacist. The employers include CVS Health, Molina Healthcare, and Cardinal Health

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Pharmacist FAQs

Do pharmacists get paid well?

Yes, pharmacists get paid well. Typically, the salary for a pharmacist falls somewhere between $90,000 per year and $130,000 per year. This is flexible, of course, but a pharmacist's salary is not usually too much lower than $90,000 per year.

This salary reflects the rigorous education, training, and licensing that pharmacists must undergo in order to practice legally.

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Do pharmacists go to med school?

Yes, pharmacists go to med school. In order to legally practice as a pharmacist, a doctoral degree in pharmacy is an absolute requirement. So, all practicing pharmacists in the United States have a medical education resulting in a doctoral degree.

To attend medical school, prospective pharmacists must pass an exam called the Pharmacy College Admission Test. Once they have passed this exam and entered medical school, the prospective pharmacist can set their sights on earning that doctoral degree. In addition to the doctoral degree in pharmacy that pharmacists must have, becoming licensed is also mandatory.

After earning a doctoral degree, pharmacists often undertake internships or residencies to prepare for a pharmacy career before becoming fully-fledged pharmacists.

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How many years does it take to be a pharmacist?

To become a pharmacist, it can take anywhere from seven to ten years, not including the high school education that is typically necessary for such a career. Most pharmacists will spend between two and four years on undergraduate education.

A two-year undergraduate education program is usually an accelerated specialized pharmacy program. Following the typical college route, a four-year bachelor's degree is much more likely.

Next, a prospective pharmacist, assuming that they have passed the Pharmacy College Admission Test, will enter an accredited pharmacy program. This program will typically take four years to complete and will result in a doctoral degree in pharmacy. By this point, the candidate will have spent between six and eight years preparing for a career in pharmacy.

Finally, one or more years of residencies or internships are commonplace. Depending on specializations, prospective pharmacists may also seek additional licenses beyond those required to legally practice as a pharmacist. These may take additional time.

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Is it hard to become a pharmacist?

Yes, it is hard to become a pharmacist. Pharmacists must earn a doctoral degree in pharmacy. To become a pharmacist, it is essential that one takes education extremely seriously.

Becoming a pharmacist involves several levels of exams, licenses, and higher education. Once a bachelor's degree has been earned or an accelerated program has reached the doctoral stage, a pharmacist must pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test in order to qualify for an accredited doctoral program in pharmacy.

Passing this test begins the phase of a prospective pharmacist's education, in which they obtain their doctoral degree in pharmacy. This typically takes at least four years. Beyond this, a pharmacist must pass several exams to be licensed to legally practice pharmacy.

In addition, many pharmacists complete residencies or pursue further licenses and certifications.

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