Pharmacist Job Description, Salary and Skills

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Are you interested in a career as a pharmacist? Review information on what pharmacists do, the education and training requirements, the employment outlook for pharmacists, and average salary information.

 Pharmacist Job Description

Pharmacists do much more than fill prescriptions according to the specifications of physicians. Pharmacists consult with clients about appropriate over the counter medications for common ailments.

 They instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about side effects they may experience from taking the medication.

Pharmacists check for potentially dangerous drug interactions when patients are taking multiple medications.

As part of their role, pharmacists provide advice on healthy living. They give preventative vaccinations like flu and pneumonia shots, and advise patients on health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress.

With an aging population, pharmacists spend more time than in the past helping older clients to manage the delivery of a complex set of medications.

Education and Training Requirements

In order to get hired as a pharmacist, a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree is required. This is a graduate degree that can be obtained through different educational paths. Most pharmacy graduate programs require at least two years of undergraduate study, although some require a bachelor’s degree.

Many universities also require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

Pharmacy graduate programs are typically four years, though some are three years. An internship or another supervised work experience is usually required as a component of the academic program.

Pharmacist Employment Opportunities

Pharmacists supervise and train Pharmacy Technicians.

Many pharmacists either own or manage pharmacies. In that role, they are responsible for other management functions like, marketing, advertising, and finance.

Others work for hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities, prescription drug providers, pharmacy chains, like Walgreens, Rite Aid or CVS, or for grocery stores or retailers with pharmacies, like Walmart or Target.

Pharmacist Salaries and Job Outlook

A career as a pharmacist is a well-paying one, and one of the higher paying jobs in the health care field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pharmacists earned an average of $116,670 per year in 2012. The bottom 10% of pharmacists earned less than $89,280, and the top 10% earned more than $145,910.

Here’s a list of average salaries for pharmacists listed by type of employer:

  • Other general merchandise stores - $128,910
  • Department stores - $120,540
  • Pharmacies and drug stores - $117,850
  • Grocery stores - $116,000
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private - $114,100

Projected Job Growth

Job opportunities for pharmacists are projected to grow 14% through 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

When you're applying for jobs, there are certain skills that employers expect applicants for pharmacist jobs to have.

List of Pharmacist Skills

Here's a list of skills employers seek in the candidates they hire. Skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

A - C

  • Accuracy
  • Advising Patients
  • Analytical
  • Answering Patient Questions Regarding Reactions to Medications and Side Effects
  • Assertiveness
  • Assessing the Strength and Purity of Medications
  • Attention to Detail
  • Calculating Appropriate Doses
  • Checking Patient List of Medications for Possible Drug Interactions
  • Clarifying Questionable Orders Through Dialogue with Physicians
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Compounding Medications
  • Comprehending Scientific and Medical Texts
  • Consulting with Other Healthcare Professionals
  • Continual Learning
  • Controlling Costs
  • Controlling Inventory of Medicines
  • Critical Thinking
  • Customer Service

D - L

  • Developing Health Promotion Programs
  • Devising Protocols
  • Dispensing Medications According to Specifications from Doctors and Dentists
  • Educating Medical Staff Regarding Potential Drug Interactions
  • Evaluating Sources for Supplies Based on Price, Quality and Service
  • Evaluating Subordinates
  • Instructing Patients Regarding Directions for Taking Medications 
  • Interpersonal
  • Interviewing Job Candidates
  • Labeling Drugs 
  • Leadership
  • Listening

M - P

  • Maintaining Confidentiality
  • Making Referrals to other Healthcare Professionals
  • Mathematical
  • Measuring
  • Mentoring Pharmacy Technicians
  • Monitoring Adherence to Quality Standards
  • Multitasking
  • Negotiating Agreements with Suppliers
  • Ordering Supplies
  • Orienting Staff to Unit Practices
  • Overseeing Patient Records Systems
  • Packaging Medicines
  • Prioritizing 
  • Problem Solving

R - Z

  • Recommending Over the Counter Products
  • Recruiting Staff
  • Resolving Insurance Coverage Denials
  • Reviewing Doctors Orders for Medications
  • Selecting Health Promotion Literature for Distribution
  • Setting Quality Standards
  • Sterile Compounding
  • Stress Management
  • Supervising Staff
  • Supervising the Supply Chain of Medicines
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management
  • Training Staff
  • Verbal
  • Working Independently
  • Working Quickly
  • Writing

Quick Facts: Pharmacist (Occupational Outlook Handbook) | List of Pharmacist Skills

Pharmacist Job Listings: Job Listings

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