When it comes to career paths and the jobs we aspire to, it’s easy to feel like there are only a few options on the table. But actually, there’s a whole world of different types of jobs and roles out there, and we’re on a mission to bring them to light and explain what they actually involve. Ahead, a look at pharmacists—and over here, we’ve also got office assistants, marketing managers, and physical therapists.
Next time you head to the drugstore to pick up your prescription, you’ll likely pick it up from a pharmacist. A pharmacist is in charge of correctly dispensing prescription medications, which means they need to be well-informed, thorough, and on top of their game at all times.
As you can imagine, this kind of role allows little room for error. And because of that—and you won’t be surprised to learn this—you’ll be spending several years in college before you start your career.
As Melbourne, Australia-based pharmacist Montana Grenfell says, when you become a pharmacist, “the community automatically places the highest level of trust in you. You need to be prepared for this, as it can be a tremendous feeling of responsibility.”
Here’s what you need to know about the job description for a pharmacist
Let’s get into the details.
So, what are the typical duties of a pharmacist?
As mentioned earlier, pharmacists are responsible for safely and correctly preparing and dispensing prescription and over-the-counter medications. If you work in a hospital pharmacy, you may be dealing with stronger drugs than you would in a drugstore.
In addition, a pharmacist is often called upon to give advice on medications and minor pain and ailments. Whether you have a sore throat, period pain, or what seems like the flu but might be something scary, you’d be able to confidently ask your pharmacist for their expert guidance.
“Pharmacists play a huge role in preventing medication errors, which account for 1 million emergency department visits each year according to health.gov,” says Texas-based pharmacist Sylvia Perry.
Some pharmacists may take a different career route, choosing to work in the pharmaceutical industry. In these roles, you may be tasked with researching new drugs and health issues via clinical trials.
Who is this job ideally for?
The role of a pharmacist is best suited for someone with high attention to detail. Accuracy is super important in this role. You’ll need to double check the dosage on the prescription, as it isn’t impossible the physician might write the wrong amount, or you may read the wrong amount, resulting in an incorrect dosage. Also, you’ll need to double check that the drugs will not interact with another drug the patient may be taking.
In terms of personality, Perry says you should have an engaging personality and highly-developed communications skills. “Pharmacists work directly with patients, physicians, and support staff, [and] must be able to tailor their message to the appropriate audience.”
What are the usual job requirements?
“Aspiring pharmacists should shadow a pharmacist or work in a pharmacy as a technician before committing to pharmacy school,” says Perry. This is because the road to becoming a pharmacist is long, arduous, and quite the commitment.
According to Sokanu, you’ll need to gain an undergraduate degree in a science subject. Then, you’ll enter into a postgraduate pharmacy course, which will typically take at least two years. At the end of the two years, you’ll have a PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) qualification.
Following that, you’ll enter into a work experience phase. The number of hours required will vary state by state. Once you’ve completed the required hours of work experience, you’ll sit for further exams—the types of which will also vary depending on where you live.
What’s the average salary like?
The average salary nationwide for a pharmacist is $111K per year, according to PayScale. However, geographical location plays an important role in your compensation. The good news is that the average salary for an entry-level pharmacist is $110K per year. If you’ve got five to 10 years of experience under your belt, the average salary nationwide is $118K per year.