For those contemplating a career as a pharmacist, earning potential is likely one of the most important factors. Learning about the average salary as well as the primary responsibilities and license requirements is a good idea for anyone looking into this industry.
How Much Does a Pharmacist Make an Hour?
In 2021, the national hourly salary for pharmacists averaged around $61.81, which is around $128,570 annually. Pharmacists at the lowest end of the pay scale earned around $76,840 annually, while those at the highest end made over $164,590 per year.
What Pharmacists Get Paid the Most?
Pharmacists work in a variety of clinical and retail environments. Clinical pharmacists work in various healthcare locations, including clinics, doctor’s offices and hospitals. Community pharmacists typically work in independent pharmacies or chain drugstores in retail locations.
Consultant pharmacists work directly for healthcare facilities or insurance companies to help organizations improve pharmacy services. Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists generally work directly for companies that sell medications in research, marketing or development roles.
The highest-paying pharmacy jobs are in general medical or surgical hospitals, with an average salary of around $132,970 per year. Pharmacists who work in general merchandise stores also earn more than those in other settings, making around $131,830 annually.
Do Pharmacists Make a Lot of Money?
How much do pharmacists make? Whether a pharmacist earns a significant amount of money depends on many factors, including their location. The states in the U.S. with the highest annual salaries include:
- California: $146,140
- Alaska: $145,910
- Oregon: $136,520
- Washington: $134,290
- Vermont: $130,460
Those who work in the Los Angeles metropolitan area take home the highest wages in the country, earning around $136,950 per year.
What Do Pharmacists Do?
Depending on where they work, pharmacists fill prescriptions, consult with medical professionals, give routine shots and advise patients on how to take their medicines. They offer advice and warning information, including dangerous drug interactions and how to avoid drug dependency. Pharmacists working in clinical settings may also provide general medical advice, including nutrition, stress reduction and symptom management.
Some of the key responsibilities of pharmacists include:
- Dispensing medications to patients based on physician prescriptions
- Analyzing drug interactions and informing patients of risks
- Working with doctors and nurses to plan treatment programs for patients
- Overseeing pharmacy technicians who take orders and fill medications
- Recommending prescription medications and over-the-counter brands to patients
- Administering wellness checks
Most pharmacists work full-time hours, with many on duty during weekends and nights because pharmacies and hospitals are often open around the clock.
What Are the Requirements To Become a Pharmacist?
While the requirements vary depending on an individual’s employer and specialization, the primary qualifications to become a pharmacist include:
- A bachelor’s degree. Most pharmacy schools require that applicants have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Many schools encourage students to pursue a pre-pharmacy major or take physics, biology and chemistry courses. Some schools may admit students with two years of undergraduate schooling, while most require students to have a bachelor’s degree and pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test.
- Pharmacy school. Generally, a Doctor of Pharmacy from a school approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education is needed to work in this field. Most pharmacy school programs include courses in healthcare ethics, medication management, pharmacology, biology, physics and chemistry. The majority of schools require students to complete internships at hospitals, healthcare offices or retail pharmacies. Many programs take four years to complete, while some offer shorter options for students who take more courses each semester.
- Advanced training (if desired). Students hoping to get an advanced position in the fields of clinical pharmacology or research often need more training after graduation. Pursuing a residency or a specialized fellowship can help pharmacists receive additional training for certain positions.
- The proper licenses. After graduation, all job applicants must take and pass two examinations to receive a permit. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam is the first examination, which tests pharmacy skills and basic industry knowledge. States administer the final test, with many also requiring an ethics exam. All U.S. states require pharmacists to maintain active licenses.
Additionally, most states require evidence of an applicant’s successful completion of an internship before granting a license. Further, pharmacists planning to give immunizations often need additional certifications or permits.
Do Pharmacists Go To Med School?
Pharmacists need to graduate from a Pharm.D. program, not a medical school. While some applicants complete a one- or two-year residency to receive additional training, this is not to be confused with a resident doctor who is a medical school graduate receiving hands-on training.
What Skills Should Pharmacists Possess?
Pharmacists need a specific skill set to perform their jobs effectively. Those planning to enter the field should concentrate on developing the following types of skills:
- Analytical. Pharmacists must have analytical skills to provide medications to patients safely. The job requires its practitioners to analyze technical information, including medication dosages, drug interactions and side effects.
- Managerial. Pharmacists often supervise junior colleagues, including technicians, cashiers and nurses. Developing managerial skills is particularly important for pharmacists who operate a retail pharmacy.
- Communication. Pharmacists must communicate effectively to offer advice to patients and explain how to take medication safely. Delivering instructions clearly and concisely is essential.
- Computer literacy. Pharmacists need computer skills to access patient health records, view prescriptions and dispense pills.
Prospective pharmacists should also develop good logical skills, as they often decide which medications and how much to dispense to patients. Improper medication use, particularly when associated with addiction, can be a severe health risk.
Good To Know
Despite declining employment, the job prospects for pharmacists are generally positive. On average, more than 11,000 positions for pharmacists open up each year, making it a solid career choice for those interested in the healthcare field.
Anyone interested in this field should keep in mind that the job outlook for pharmacists in drugstores and retail pharmacies is expected to decline as many patients turn to mail-order and online pharmacies.
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Information is accurate as of May 6, 2022.