In recent years, pharmacist has been consistently ranked as among the best jobs in the United States. Pharmacists play an important role in helping people get the best results from their medications. The pharmacist is an accessible liaison whom patients can talk to face-to-face, without an appointment. He or she is someone who can answer health-related questions — what foods, drinks, activities, or other drugs could have an effect on medication or what to do about a missed dose. Essentially, pharmacists help people with almost anything related to the use of medicines, which means they help people to stay as healthy as possible. If this sounds interesting to you, then perhaps becoming a pharmacist — a trusted, caring, and knowledgeable health care professional — might very well be you.
Pharmacists work in pharmacies, including those in grocery and drug stores. They also work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Some pharmacists work for the government and the military. In most settings, they spend much of the workday on their feet.
Most pharmacists work full time, although about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2014. Because many pharmacies are open at all hours, some pharmacists work nights and weekends.
In 2016, 139 colleges and schools of pharmacy were recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Pharmacy programs grant Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees, which require at least six years of post-secondary study and passing a state board of pharmacy licensure examination.
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program requires at least 2-years of specific preprofessional (undergraduate) coursework followed by 4-academic years (or 3-calendar years) of professional study. Pharmacy colleges and schools may accept students directly from high school for both the pre-pharmacy and pharmacy curriculum, or after completion of the college course prerequisites. The majority of students enter a pharmacy program with 3 or more years of college experience. College graduates who enroll in a pharmacy program must complete the full 4-academic years (or 3-calendar) years of professional study to earn the Pharm.D. degree.
The Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) makes it easy to apply to multiple schools using a single application.
Students interested in laboratory or research experience can continue their education by completing a Master of Science or Ph.D. degree. Graduates usually go on to careers in research for a drug company or teaching at a university. In the 2016-17 academic year, 78 colleges of pharmacy offered Master of Science and/or Ph.D. programs.
Other options for Pharm.D. graduates who are interested in further training include one- or two-year residency programs or fellowships. Pharmacy residencies are post-graduate training programs in pharmacy practice. Pharmacy fellowships are highly individualized programs designed to prepare participants to work in research laboratories. Some pharmacists who run their own pharmacies obtain a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).
Learn More About a Career as a Pharmacist
- Pharmacy is Right for Me can help you identify the pharmacy career option that is right for you.
- Pharmacy is a diverse and rewarding career, with opportunities for patient care, scientific research and innovation. Learn more about the inspiring journeys of pharmacists who change lives.
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- American Pharmacists Association