Career Information

Return to Career Page

Pharmacy

Pharmacist

Career data updated last on 10/6/2014
Pharmacist Pharmacists are experts in the medicines used to treat or prevent disease and symptoms such as pain. They work with physicians and other health care providers to help treat patients with the right medications, at the right dosages and in the safest combinations. Pharmacists dispense medications prescribed by physicians, but also provide information to physicians and others about the selection of the best drug products for specific problems. They help monitor a patient's medications to avoid complications caused by the interactions of drugs. Pharmacists also educate patients about medicines and help them make informed choices.
Salary $55.05/hr- $114,490 annually
Significant Points Earnings are very high, but some pharmacists work long hours, nights, weekends, and holidays.
Specializations
  • Retail Pharmacy
  • Hospital Pharmacy
  • Consultant Pharmacy
  • Research and Development
  • Home healthcare
Work Environment Pharmacists work in community retail pharmacies, or as members of a team of health care professionals in a hospital or nursing home. Pharmacists may supervise pharmacy technicians and other employees. Some pharmacists work in industry for pharmaceutical and medical research firms. Many community and hospital pharmacies are open for extended hours or around the clock, so pharmacists may work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Consultant pharmacists may travel to nursing homes or other facilities to monitor patients’ drug therapy.
High School Prep High school diploma or equivalent is required. However, general college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including one biological science, one physical science and one lab course; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language.
Academic Requirements

To become licensed to practice pharmacy, you must graduate from a school or college of pharmacy which is accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education, complete an internship and pass an examination given by the State Board of Pharmacy. Pharmacy programs grant the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), which requires at least 6 years of postsecondary study and the passing of the licensure examination of a State board of pharmacy. The Pharm.D. is a 4-year program that requires at least 2 years of college study prior to admittance, although most applicants have 3 years prior to entering the program. Entry requirements usually include courses in mathematics and natural sciences, such as chemistry, biology, and physics, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences. Approximately half of all colleges require the applicant to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

Both the master’s and Ph.D. degrees are awarded after completion of a Pharm.D. degree. These degrees are designed for those who want more laboratory and research experience. Many master’s and Ph.D. degree holders do research for a drug company or teach at a university. Other options for pharmacy graduates who are interested in further training include 1- or 2-year residency programs or fellowships. Pharmacy residencies are postgraduate training programs in pharmacy practice, and usually require the completion of a research study. Pharmacy fellowships are highly individualized programs designed to prepare participants to work in research laboratories. Some pharmacists who run their own pharmacy obtain a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).

In community pharmacies, pharmacists usually begin at the staff level. In independent pharmacies, after they gain experience and secure the necessary capital, some become owners or part owners of pharmacies. Pharmacists in chain drugstores may be promoted to pharmacy supervisor or manager at the store level, then to manager at the district or regional level, and later to an executive position within the chain’s headquarters.

Hospital pharmacists may advance to supervisory or administrative positions. Pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry may advance in marketing, sales, research, quality control, production, packaging, or other areas.

The State of Colorado requires each pharmacist to complete 24 hours of ACPE approved continuing education every two years.

Schools/Organizations

Regis University
Doctoral Degree Doctoral
University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
Doctoral Degree Doctoral

Return to Career Page