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What are the Different Pharmacy Careers?

By Ken Black
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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There are many different pharmacy careers available in different settings, and requiring different levels of education and experience. In some cases, the choices may have to do with the amount of education a student wants to get in pharmacy. In other cases, benefits and the setting will be choices when considering various pharmacy careers.

Though most people think of pharmacy jobs as being at a local drug or grocery store, pharmacists are in demand in many different types of settings, and carry out various obligations. A hospital pharmacist will dispense drugs for individual patients, usually making them available to nurses, and likely never even seeing the patient directly. Still, the pharmacist is responsible for making sure any medications being taken are acceptable in combination with each other, and that the prescribed dosages are appropriate.

The retail pharmacist is one of the pharmacy careers that deals directly with the public on a daily basis. Customers will either bring in prescriptions, or they will be called in from a doctor. The pharmacist, or technician working under the direction of the pharmacist, will then fill the order. The pharmacist will take the order to the customer and then provide any consultation that may be necessary. Usually, the pharmacists will explain the time and circumstances in which it is appropriate to take the medication, along with any side effects.

In addition to dispensing drugs, some pharmacy careers take on more of an advisory role. This is the case with a clinical pharmacist. This individual may be responsible for filling prescriptions and offering advice to patients, but there is more to it. The pharmacist will also work closely with doctors, advising them of different pharmaceutical issues, including different drug interactions and side effects. This may be done in a general classroom or meeting, or may be done one on one.

Another type of pharmacy career is that of the research pharmacist. In general, this pharmacist is responsible for developing new drugs, improving older ones, or investigating problems with drugs. Such a pharmacist might be employed by a pharmaceutical corporation, the government, or be funded through grants for self-directed research. This kind of pharmacist will need a heavier background in science than is needed on other pharmaceutical careers.

Each of these pharmacy careers require a PharmD degree, which is also called a Doctor of pharmacy. This degree qualifies an individual to work in any of these jobs, though some may be highly competitive, with preference given to those who also have the experience. No matter what area of specialization, it is common for all of these pharmacy careers to offer unusually high starting salaries. Retail pharmacist positions tend to pay a little more than hospital positions, because of the long hours, and the intensity of the work.

The other type of pharmacy career path that could be chosen is a pharmacy tech. This individual is often the one who actually is responsible for filling prescriptions. The pharmacist will supervise the work, and provide the consultation with the patient, making sure all regulatory requirements are met and perhaps even making sure the prescription is valid. Though no formal training is required in many states, a pharmacy tech program can usually be completed in six months or less.

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Discussion Comments
By anon336434 — On May 28, 2013

So how do pharmacists make so much money?

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