Pharmacist

Job Description

Pharmacist preparing a prescription
••• Musketeer/Digital Vision/Getty Images

In addition to dispensing prescription medication, pharmacists provide key information about drugs, including side effects, contraindications with other medicines and a range of other concerns. And by walking customers through their physicians' dosage and usage instructions, pharmacists help ensure medications are safely and effectively consumed.

Quick Pharmacist Facts

  • As of December 1, 2018, the average pharmacist salary in the United States is $129,963. The range is $122,229 to $138,781.
  • As of December 1, 2018, the average pharmacist hourly wage in the United States is $62. The range is $59 to $67. 
  • According to the Bureau of Labor's most recent data, 312,500 Americans worked in this occupation in 2016. That number is projected to rise 6% by 2026--less than average, for all other occupations.

A Day in a Pharmacist's Life

According to online job advertisements listed by employment search engine Indeed.com, pharmacists typically do the following taks:

  • Dispense or supervise the dispensation of medications and related supplies, according to physicians' prescriptions.
  • Review prescriptions for accuracy.
  • Checks for drug interactions.
  • Compound medications and prepare special solutions.
  • Counsel patients regarding appropriate use of medications.
  • Oversee daily ordering.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to plan, monitor, review and evaluate patient effectiveness.
  • Recommend drug therapy changes when appropriate.
  • Ensure the pharmacy complies with all local, state and Federal regulations.
  • Educate patients and staffer on drug therapies.

How to Become a Pharmacist

Those interested in becoming a pharmacist must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, known as a "Pharm.D." from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

Programs typically last six years, but those who have already completed two years of college may apply to a four-year pharmacy program. Most schools require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

Course curricula includes: pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology (effects of drugs on the body), toxicology, and pharmacy administration. For more information, visit "How to Become a Pharmacist."

Every U.S. state licenses pharmacists and has its own set of requirements. All applicants must pass the North American Pharmacist Exam, administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Most states also require graduates to pass a pharmacy law test known as the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). 

What Soft Skills Do You Need to Succeed as a Pharmacist?

Those who want to become pharmacists should possess the following skill-sets:

  • Reading Comprehension: The ability to understand written information.
  • Active Listening: The ability to understand customers and coworkers.
  • Verbal Communication: The ability to provide clear and concise instructions for administering medication to patients, caretakers and other healthcare workers.
  • Critical Thinking: The ability to solve problems and weigh the merits of different possible solutions.
  • Attention to Detail: The ability to carry out tasks with granular precision.
  • Physical fitness: The ability to spend the majority of your shift standing up.
  • Ability to compassionately provide consultation, vaccinations and friendly service.

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

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