Career Profile:


Pharmacists deal with the preparation, dispensing, and appropriate use of medicines.

As a pharmacist, you prepare and distribute medicine. You also provide information regarding a drug’s dosage and its possible side effects and interactions. You help the physician to monitor patients’ health to ensure medicines are effective. Some pharmacists also do compounding—the actual mixing of the medicine. You might want to choose a specialty. As a community pharmacist, you dispense medications, teach patients about the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications and communicate with the patient’s physician. You also advise patients about general health topics such as diet, exercise, and stress. If you choose the job of health care pharmacist, you dispense medications and communicate the effects of the drugs to the doctor. You make sterile solutions for intravenous injection and plan and evaluate drug programs. As a home health care pharmacist, you’d oversee drug therapy and prepare intravenous injections and other medications for home-based patients. Some pharmacists specialize in specific drug therapy areas such as oncology, nuclear, geriatric or psychiatric pharmacy.

Where You Work

You have a wide choice of workplaces. You may work in or manage a drugstore or a healthcare facility such as a hospital, nursing home, mental health institution, or neighborhood health clinic.

How You Help

You prepare and distribute medications used by patients with a wide range of needs. A key role is to explain how to take a drug correctly and how to reduce side effects. You are essential to the safe, effective use of drugs and treatments. In the case of cancer patients, you’d help patients manage their cancer prevention drugs, such as tamoxifen or treatment medications such as chemotherapy drugs. You interact with physicians and nurses in administering drugs on clinical trials, determining safe drug dosing and drug interactions. Without pharmacists, there could be no cancer drugs and treatments. Pharmacists play an integral role in clinical trial protocol development.

Helpful High School Courses

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Advanced Chemistry (Organic Chemistry)
  • Advanced Mathematics
  • Health

Skills to Build

  • Strong science background especially chemistry
  • Able to interact with patients and physicians
  • Curious and inquisitive
  • Meticulous and detailed
  • Know how to be a team player
  • Be able to follow directions and to provide them


  • Help patients and doctors solve medical issues
  • Very well paying job
  • Can work in a variety of locations
  • Have direct impact on patient care and education


  • Need to keep up with constantly changing field
  • Long hours depending on specialty

Education You Need

Two to four years of undergraduate study followed by four years of study in pharmacy school, equal to six years of pharmacy school for a doctor of pharmacy degree (Pharm. D). Licensure required.

A Day in the Life

  • 8:00
    Prepare medications for the entire day
  • 9:00
    Meet with a few patients, talk about their medicines and side effects
  • 10:00
    Dispense appropriate medications
  • 2:00
    Document clinical notes, laboratory values, and calculations
  • 3:40
    Contact physicians and discuss treatment options for patients to better control side effects
  • 4:30
    Prepare needed materials for the next day

Average Annual Salary Range

  • $89,000-$147,350*

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* Actual salary dependent on education, experience, location, and other variables