Pharmacy Majors: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for pharmacists. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacists primarily fill prescriptions provided through licensed doctors, and they're trained to identify which chemicals can and cannot go together. Sometimes, they may need to mix drugs for a client, and at all times, they need to supervise and advise patients on what drugs they are taking and what reactions those drugs may induce. Pharmacists can also give nutritional or lifestyle advice or recommend certain medical equipment that could help patients. Filling out reports and keeping records are two common duties as well.

The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
Training Required Internships may be required
Key Responsibilities Fill prescriptions and dispense medications; verify that there are no adverse drug interactions for each patient and counsel patients about their medications; give flu shots and other vaccinations; oversee pharmacy technicians and staff
Licensure and/or Certification All states require licensure; certification is available in several specialties
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3%*
Median Salary (2015) $121,500*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn in a Bachelor's Degree Pharmacy Program?

A pre-pharmacy Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts program typically fulfills the undergraduate requirements of a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program. Usually general science programs, they'll provide you with an overview of a wide range of science and math fields, like geometry and trigonometry.

You'll also gain a solid foundation in the health sciences, as well as research and clinical training. Coursework can include:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Molecular biology
  • Methods of statistics
  • Physiology principles
  • Human anatomy

Is This Program Available Online?

Due to the clinical components of these programs, they're typically only offered on-campus. However, you may be able to find some hybrid programs that offer some coursework online but require you to perform laboratory work on-campus.

What Types of Programs Are Available?

Bachelor's degree programs in pre-pharmacy commonly take four years to complete. After you graduate, you can then apply to pharmacy school. You may also find combined B.S/Pharm.D programs, which will allow you to earn both degrees within seven years. You'll be eligible for licensure as a pharmacist upon obtaining your Pharm.D.

What Is the Career Outlook?

The job outlook for this field is very promising over the next few years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of pharmacists would grow at a slower-than-average rate of 3% from 2014 to 2024. This growth rate was due in part to the overall aging of the general population, fueling a growth in new pharmacies being built in non-traditional locations, such as department stores, grocery stores and online.

How Much Can I Earn?

The BLS reported that pharmacists earned a median annual salary of $121,500 in May 2015. Your earning potential will vary depending on where you're employed. For example, those who worked in hospitals earned slightly less than the national mean wage at $119,460 a year, while those who worked in health stores earned slightly more at $119,620.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

To be a pharmacist you need a doctorate, and within that same educational realm are related careers in biochemistry, biophysics, medical science or professional medicine. Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical makeup of living things, the biological processes of growth, disease, and cell development. Medical scientists work on research, tests and studies to improve overall health. Physicians and surgeons are medical doctors specializing in specific duties from general practice to orthopedics. With less education - an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree - you could work as a registered nurse. With at least a high school diploma and some on-the-job training, you could work as a pharmacy technician helping pharmacists dispense certain meds and deal with the public.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
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