A pharmacist is a health care professional who prepares and dispenses drugs, and also gives health advices to clients.
You might like to become a pharmacist if you are interested in health, along with biology and chemistry, and would like a career where you can work with people.
Many people who are looking for a career in medicine, but do not want to work in the high-stress environment of a hospital, choose a career in pharmacy.
The main responsibility of a pharmacist is to fill prescriptions that patients bring in.
This may seem like a simple task, however a pharmacist must have a wide understanding of different drugs and the way they affect our bodies.
They are often called upon to give advice to patients about their prescriptions, as well as general health and wellbeing advice.
Education Requirements to Become a Pharmacist
Your journey to become a pharmacist can begin when you are still in high school.
Taking subjects in math, chemistry, physics, and biology will help you to secure a place at a good college.
You will also need strong writing skills, so concentrate on getting good grades in English.
To become a pharmacist, you’ll need a doctorate of pharmacy.
There are two pathways to achieve this degree.
You can either enter a six year program right after high school which will cover all the coursework you need to become an accredited pharmacist.
The second option is to complete a four year undergraduate degree, followed by a shortened doctorate of pharmacy program.
This takes between three and four years to complete.
When you are looking for schools, it’s important to select one that is accredited by the ACPE, or the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
In all states, pharmacists need to be licensed before they can practice.
In most, but not all, places, the standard exam is the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam, or NAPLEX.
In some states, you may need to take the NAPLEX, along with another state set exam.
Pharmacist Job Description
A pharmacist’s main responsibility is to prepare and distribute drugs.
They will also speak with clients, giving them information and instructions about the drugs they are taking.
Often people with health complaints will ask a pharmacist for advice, rather than seeing a doctor.
While you need to be good at studying to become a pharmacist, you also need good people skills.
A pharmacist may work at a large retail store pharmacy, or in smaller retail shops.
This could involve spending a good amount of your day speaking with clients about their medical problems, keeping an inventory, working a register, and keeping records.
Some pharmacists work in hospitals, others in research sectors.
In recent years, pharmacists have become more involved in developing drug therapy programs for patients, and have also given counseling when it has been required.
Here are some of the common tasks a pharmacist may complete:
- Preparing prescription drugs
- Filling prescriptions
- Communicating with customers
- Giving health advice
- Keeping and inventory of drugs and shop stock
- Operating a register
- Preparing drug therapy programs
Pharmacist Salary and Career Path
Most pharmacists will get their first job working in a pharmacy.
They may be working in a retail shop, or as part of a hospital.
Some pharmacists also work in research sectors, conducting trials on new drugs.
Some may work in labs, manufacturing drugs from scratch.
Usually a new pharmacist will work under a more experienced pharmacist for the first few years of their career, before branching out into more complicated positions with greater responsibility.
Many go on to open their own pharmacies and enjoy the opportunity to own and run their own businesses.
Most pharmacists earn between $92,000 and $120,000 a year.
The median wage is around $106,000 a year.
The top 10% of pharmacists earn more than $130,000 a year.
Some positions a pharmacist may move onto later in their career include:
- Medical Doctor
- Medical researcher
- Biological Scientist
- Pharmaceutical researcher
- Pharmaceutical manufacturer
- Veterinary pharmacist
When you become a pharmacist, you can look forward to strong job opportunities.
With aging populations in the horizon, growth in this area is faster than in other industries.
If you are interested in health and medicine, and would like a challenging career in a growing industry, then pharmacy might be the perfect choice for you.