Being a pharmacist is one of the most rewarding careers in the medical field. What does it take to become a pharmacist and what is an average pharmacist’s salary?
Becoming a pharmacist does require a number of years spent in school though it does not take as long as becoming a doctor. To begin, you need to have completed two years of college coursework in related fields. These include:
- Social sciences
Basically, it’s your garden variety associates degree. From there, you have a variety of options.
- Continue to receive a bachelor’s degree or a degree in advanced pharmacology.
- Begin a 4 year “Doctor of Pharmacology” program. You will be required to pass the Pharmacology College admissions test before you will be allowed to enter this program.
Either way, it will take 4-6 years to become a licensed pharmacist. Depending on where you live, you may need to complete licensing through your local government as well.
The responsibilities of a licensed pharmacist are many and varied. They can include but are not limited to:
- Compounding and dispensing drugs as prescribed by the patient’s doctor.
- Transferring prescriptions from other facilities.
- Handling incoming calls from doctors and other medical professionals.
- Logging drug and patient data into the computer.
- Completing drug utilization reviews.
You may also be asked or required to give advice to patients regarding their medications, potential reactions, or the use of over the counter drugs that they may wish to purchase. Many people will visit a drug store that employs a full time pharmacist specially to get your advice.
As with any job, the salary that you receive will vary from state to state and in some cases, from city to city.
Currently the nationwide median salary for licensed pharmacists is $120,000 per year. This averages out to approximately $54 an hour. The top 10% of pharmacists have the potential to make nearly $150,000 per year, and the lowest 10% still do fairly well, bringing in $90,000 annually.
The average pharmacist’s salary has steadily risen over the last 10 years and is showing no sign of slowing. In 2004, the average pharmacist made approximately $85,000 every year and it is increased progressively to reach the current median salary that licensed pharmacists now enjoy.
Pros and Cons
Becoming a pharmacist can be a very rewarding job, but like any career, it has its good points and its bad points.
-Steady 40+ Hour Work Weeks with Overtime if applicable
-Steady upward mobility
-Plenty of job openings
-Lots of new options (Online pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, etc)
-Above average stress level (But this can vary depending on your customers)
- Hired as a floater (Have to move from store to store, sometimes dozens of miles apart)
-On your feet all day.
Whatever path you choose, most experienced pharmacists agree that you should begin searching for your new position while you’re still in school. A pharmacist’s salary can be an effective motivator for going back to school.