Pharmacist Job Description
Pharmacists dispense medications to customers, following the prescription orders issued by dentists, physicians, or other authorized practitioners. They are assisted by pharmacy technicians and pharmacy aides.
In addition to dispensing medication, pharmacists record their customers’ prescription history and provide information about side effects, dosage, and drug interactions they may encounter. Because doctors are sometimes unaware of all the medications an individual may be taking, pharmacists are able to act as a last line of defense, ensuring that customers don’t receive a medication that could negatively interact with others they are taking.
Many customers also ask pharmacists for recommendations for over the counter drugs or other treatments available without a prescription.
Additional responsibilities for pharmacist jobs include:
- Filing insurance claims on a customer’s behalf, ensuring that they are covered for the medicines they need.
- Hiring and supervising pharmacy staff.
- Maintaining appropriate inventory levels of all medications in the pharmacy.
Work Environment and Hours
Pharmacists work in drug stores, hospitals, and the pharmacies found in grocery stores, department stores, and other similar locations.
Due to the nature of the work, pharmacists spend the majority of their shifts on their feet.
Many pharmacists work very long hours, though the hours required will vary considerably based on the type of pharmacy they work in. Some drug stores offer 24 hour pharmacy service, which requires pharmacists to work night shifts. Virtually all pharmacies are open seven days a week, so it’s common for them to work on weekends.
If it’s important to you that you work during regular business hours, then working at a grocery store or department store pharmacy is probably your best bet.
How to Become a Pharmacist
Pharmacists must complete at least two years of undergraduate study, with a focus on biology, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy. Some pharmacy schools require a bachelor’s degree for admission, however. Regardless, all applicants for pharmacy school must take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) to be considered for enrollment.
If you want to work in clinical or research pharmacy, a residency will be required after you earn your degree.
All states require pharmacists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but often require the completion of NAPLEX and MPJE exams.
There are currently 274,900 pharmacists in the United States, with 13,960 new pharmacist job openings created each year.
Pharmacist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Pharmacist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most pharmacists make between $101,400 – $129,300 per year, or $48.73 – $62.17 per hour.