Inside Pharmacist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Opportunity To Use Clinical Skills...
I was surprised to find that the large opportunity available for pharmacists to make a meaningful difference in patients lives. Instead of just counting pills all day, I often intervene and modify my patients pharmacotherapy regimens to better suit their needs." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Pharmacy at Wayne State University in Michigan; completed Professional degree in 2012

"People Don't Care As Much As They Should...
I am surprised how little attention people give to what they put into their body." (Pharmacy Manager; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at St. Louis College Of Pharmacy in Missouri; completed Doctorate degree in 2011

"Enjoyment Unexpected...
I was surprised at how much I love my job. At first, when I chose this path, my intentions were for a stable, good job. But once I dived into the actual work, it was quite enjoyable applying your skills." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Medicine at UCLA in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Physician Collaboration...
I was surprised at how much pharmacists interact with doctors and contribute to decisions about patients. Everyday, I am responsible for answering questions or making suggestions to doctors, and even patients themselves, that will have direct impact on people's health." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Kentucky, male
School: Studied Pharmacy at Sullivan University College Of Pharmacy in Kentucky; completed Doctorate degree in 2012

"Job Prospects Not So Bright...
In the recent past, Pharmacists were really in demand. Because of the very high starting salaries, students have flocked to this major, and many new schools have been built to accommodate the enormous increase in enrollment. As a result, salaries are trending downward and jobs are no longer plentiful. I am not only surprised at how quickly the pharmacist shortage was resolved, but also at the universities which still promote Pharmacy as an "in-demand and growing" field." (Pharmacist; 2014)

Career: 25 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 1988

"What surprised me the most is a general lack of understanding by the public at how tedious and slow pharmaceutical operations can move." (Pharmacy; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, male
School: at Boston University in Massachusetts; completed Master degree

"Business Side Of Healthcare...
Healthcare isn't only about helping people improve their health, but also the business aspect. You have to meet a certain requirement in sales and advertise your profession in order to get more business." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at Oregon State University; completed Professional degree in 2012

"Experience Trumps Education In Pharmacy...
what was surprising about pharmacy was the number of graduates who had plenty of technical/clinical knowledge but very little or no working experience in a pharmacy." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 21 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Pharmacy at Massachusetts College Of Pharmacy in Massachusetts; completed Bachelor degree in 1992

"Always Changing Technology And Responsibilities...
I was surprised at how much pharmacy has changed and continues to change since I choose that as my career choice back in high school. There are so many more fields (consulting, hospital, retail, long term care, etc) and so many more responsibilities that I can do (vaccinations, disease management, etc)." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Iowa, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at University Of Iowa in Iowa; completed Professional degree in 1999

"Pharmacists No Longer In Demand...
I started pharmacy school when pharmacists were still in demand. When I graduated we were in a recession, health insurances were decreasing reimbursement for prescriptions, and the number of schools in my state had doubled. This made finding a job much more difficult, and I wasn't prepared for that. I taught ballet during much of my time at pharmacy school instead of working in a pharmacy, and that put me at a great disadvantage when it came time to finding a job. Finding a job in pharmacy was much more difficult than anyone had made it out to be." (Retail Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at University Of California, San Francisco in California; completed Professional degree in 2011

"Not A 9-5 Career...
I was quickly surprised that being a pharmacist required having very available hours just like a surgeon. I often need to pick up a night shift every other day and the scheduling is erratic. I thought I would be able to just do a 9-5 job." (Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: , male
School: Studied Pharmacy at Saint Louis College Of Pharmacy in Missouri; completed Professional degree in 2008

"I was surprised that as a pharmacist you would deal with so many different people from day to day. I knew I would have to be patient with the customers and patients, depending on which setting, but I never realized how I had to be careful of my actions and treat each person individually. I never knew I would have to deal with so many angry customers on a daily basis." (Pharmacy; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: at University Of The Pacific in California in 2012

"Patients Don't Listen...
I was surprised at how much patients would pretend to know what I tell them about certain drugs, but actually have no idea. It's kind of annoying when they call later and ask me to repeat information that I very clearly told them already." (Retail Pharmacist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at University Of Texas College Of Pharmacy in Texas; completed Professional degree in 2010

"Ongoing Education...
I am constantly amazed by my need for continuing education. There are always new pharmaceuticals coming out on the market. It is of utmost importance that I stay on top of new drug developments." (Pharmacist; 2012)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Pharmacy at Campbell University in North Carolina; completed Doctorate degree in 2006

"Dealing With Insurance Companies...
I am surprised how much time I spend communicating with insurance companies. I spend a great deal of time worrying about audits and arguing over prices. On the other hand, I have really enjoyed the personal relationships I have built with certain patients in just short amount of time. When I think of the long term scale of my career, I feel as though the best is yet to come." (Pharmacist; 2012)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Pharmacy at University At Buffalo in New York; completed Professional degree in 2008

"I was surprised to find that the subjects I covered in Biology were used in Pharmacy. I was not expecting the topics I covered to be all that relevant to the working world." (Pharmacist; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Biology at University Of North Carolina in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Pharmacy Manager: "The best part of the job is when the patient tells me that they appreciate the advice I have given them. I also get to meet many people from my community and when they see me around town they always say hello. As far as I know there are still many pharmacy jobs available and the salary is good. The worst part is all the interruptions throughout the day. One patient might be waiting for me to finish their prescription but another patient has me tied up on the phone complaining about the price or a problem with their insurance." (2011)

Pharmacist: "I would say that stress would be the worst part of my job. In most situations that I deal with on a daily basis, the patient is quite ill. I am providing a service that I'm hoping will ultimately help them. This can be accomplished by in essence making them "better". Unfortunately, that is not always the outcome which can lead to a stressful work environment. The best part of my job is the sense that I receive that I am really helping someone." (2011)

Assistant Director Of Pharmacy: "The best part of my job is the people. Knowing that I go to work everyday and impact peoples lives makes me feel good. I know that when I go home at night what I have done that day has made a difference. I also enjoy seeing others succeed, nothing is more exciting to me than seeing someone who works for me recognized for doing a good job. One of the more difficult parts of job is delivering corrective actions to people. Sometimes people don't take this very well. Instead of seeing it as an opportunity to reset the expectations, they view it as a threat to their employment. Sometimes talking them through this is the most difficult part." (2011)

Pharmacist, Pharmacy Manager: "The best part of the job is knowing that if I perform my job properly, I am helping to make someone feel better. It provides a great feeling of personal accomplishment. The job is also very interesting because I get to interact with so many different types of people. The worst part of the job is stress. Being a pharmacist is a very stressful job because if you do not do your job properly, you could really injure someone. The job is also stressful because many people who come to the pharmacy do not feel well, therefore they want their prescriptions quickly so that they can go home. It is stressful to do your job properly when patients just want you to do your job quickly." (2011)

Pharmacy Manager: "Best-Part: Being able to help people live better lives and getting involved in the community. Nothing is more rewarding the seeing a positive outcome from your efforts no matter how large or small the outcome is. Being able to bring a smile to someone's face who doesn't feel well is very rewarding. Worst-Part: Having to battle with insurance companies to get medications paid for for patients that need them. Frequently insurance companies dictate which therapies are covered and sometimes this may not always be what I feel is the best therapy, but I have to live with it." (2011)

Retail Pharmacist: "The best part of my job is that every day is different for me and I very rarely have what I would consider to be a boring day. Patients frequently come to me for advice and I find that very satisfying. Another positive aspect of my job is that pharmacists can make a great salary and have great job security, and that makes life a bit more comfortable when not faced with financial difficulty of losing one's job (especially in this economy lately). I would have to say that the worst part of my job is that I have to work weekends and holidays. I am also faced with constant pressure to get lots of tasks done quickly, which can be quite tiring." (2010)

Career Background


  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Specialization Is The Key...
If you want to be a successful pharmacist, you must distinguish yourself from all of your classmates. I suggest gaining additional credentials, such as board certification and a residency. Do not wait to obtain these credentials. Yes, you will be tired and glad to finally be out of school. You may tell yourself that "in the next few years" you will do a residency or study for a specialty exam. More than likely, you will be too involved with your new job, your family, and perhaps children, to have the energy and discipline to move forward. Keep your momentum going! Don't stop to rest when you get out of school." (Pharmacist; 2014)

Make sure you really want to go into this profession as it takes a lot of time and financial aspect (huge amount of student loans). Also the job market isn't as lucrative as it seems." (Pharmacist; 2013)

"Get As Much Pharmacy Experience As You Can...
I would recommend to get as much work experience in a pharmacy as possible. It helps so much to already be familiar with drugs names and classes of medications before you learn about them in class. When you have knowledge beforehand it makes the learning process much easier." (Pharmacist; 2013)

"Don't Become A Pharmacist For The Money...
Pharmacy is becoming saturated, which means the pay will likely stagnate or decrease in the future. Don't become a pharmacist for the money. Don't become a pharmacist because Yahoo News tells you that it is a great career. It is still a good career, but it is tough, and can be very stressful, especially Retail Pharmacy. As pharmacies are losing money, they are decreasing manpower, and that means pharmacists are expected to do even more. Be a pharmacist because you love medicine and helping people. If not, there are other ways to make a three figure salary." (Retail Pharmacist; 2013)

"The Customer Is Never Right...
Pay attention to how your preceptors interact with unruly patients." (Pharmacy Manager; 2013)

"Time Spent In The Classroom Well Worth It...
Although pharmacy school takes a lot of time and dedication, it pays off in the end. I am well compensated and satisfied with my career, and if you put in the effort you will be well rewarded. Working in healthcare provides great job security which is worth the long hours spent in the classroom." (Pharmacist; 2013)

"Be Prepared To Relocate...
Like many healthcare jobs, pharmacy will be deeply affected by government policy. As such, do not set down roots in any place and always be available to move around the country. Additionally, take internships in different settings to get a fill such as retail or in a clinic." (Pharmacist; 2013)

"The Basics Are Key...
Having a strong foundation in the introductory courses can make it easier to understand the harder things. Make sure you are always on top of the basics." (Pharmacist; 2013)

"Start Out As A Pharmacy Tech...
Start working in the pharmacy field as a technician or intern if you are truly interested. The knowledge you gain just by being in that environment is very beneficial to your success in school. It is also very helpful when trying to find a job when you graduate, as you may already have several years of employment with a company." (Pharmacist; 2013)

"Be Attentive On Pharmacy Rotations...
Even though pharmacy school was different, it was only three years of my life. Make sure that you study hard and pay attention to the professors and the companies in which you work in. Pay particular attention while on rotations, this is where you will learn the most" (Pharmacy; 2013)

"Save Money...
Take preliminary classes at a state or community college and try to save as much tuition money as possible." (Pharmacy; 2013)

"Get Experience, Not Debt...
To make the most out of your education in pharmacy, make sure not to take out too many loans, and get experience prior to graduating" (Pharmacist; 2013)

"Expect Weekend Hours...
Some of the colleges courses for pharmacy are difficult but try to get through them because it will be worth it in the end. Try working as a pharmacy clerk to see if you like this type of work. You will probably have to work weekends so try not to dwell on the things you will have to miss because you are working. This can be difficult because things will always arise when you have to work." (Pharmacy Manager; 2011)

"Get A Feel For The Job Before Committing To Pharm School...
I would attempt to get some job experience prior to going to pharmacy school. It is a long college commitment. This can be accomplished by internships, volunteering or pharmacy related jobs. Some places allow employees to mentor students. I would research all the different pharmacy positions available to make a good choice in a future occupation. A lot of times there are opportunities available that would be a good fit for a student but they are unaware that these possible positions even exist." (Pharmacist; 2011)

"Keep Learning...
The three tips I think are most important to succeeding are: 1) Never stop striving to be the best 2) Never become complacent, do not take anything for granted always ask questions and challenge the status quo 3) Be a life long learner, never feel that you know everything there is to know. There will always be someone who knows more than you." (Assistant Director Of Pharmacy; 2011)

"Learn To Deal With People Respectfully...
I would highly advise that before someone become a pharmacist, they speak to one in their hometown or volunteer in the pharmacy department at their local hospital. I would also encourage them to do well in their math, biology, and chemistry courses. Additionally, as funny as this may sound, I encourage them to work in a job during high school that deals with the public, e.g., McDonald's. There is no course that teaches you how to be polite and have patience with people, real world experience is the only way." (Pharmacist, Pharmacy Manager; 2011)

"Talk To A Pharmacist...
1) Do research on the profession and see what options exist in the field of pharmacy. Make sure one of these options is something that interests you. 2) Find someone practicing in the field you are interested in and reach out to them. Go talk to them and see if it is possible for you to job shadow them. 3) Once you set a goal, work hard to achieve it. Never say "I can't do that, it's too hard". Nothing is impossible or too hard if you put your mind to it and never give up. Also, don't do anything foolish to jeopardize what you have worked so hard to achieve." (Pharmacy Manager; 2011)

"Load Up On Science Courses...
Pharmacy school requires a strong background in science, so I would say that taking extra science courses will be quite beneficial. I would tell someone in pharmacy school to work in a number of different settings before choosing your career path. There are so many pharmacist jobs out there, and I think it's a great idea to expose yourself to as many of those as possible." (Retail Pharmacist; 2010)