The white-coated professionals at your neighborhood drug store do a lot more than just fill prescriptions. Pharmacists do indeed dispense medicines, but first they check for any possible interactions with other medicines or medical conditions. They also instruct patients on how to take the medicines and will inform them about what to do if certain side effects arise. A pharmacist will also keep meticulous records, coordinate with insurance companies, supervise pharmacy technicians and keep up to date with continuing education courses.
“Pharmacists are becoming a more integral part of the health care team,” says Heather Free, a pharmacist working in the District of Columbia. She says that pharmacists are doing more to support doctors and clinicians, for example, by giving patients immunizations and making sure that all of a patient’s doctors are informed about the diverse medicines that have been prescribed. Some pharmacists are also getting involved in adherence monitoring (why it’s hard for a patient to take his/her meds) and medication therapy management, or MTM, which seeks to optimize what drugs do for a patient’s overall well-being.
The unique mix of medicinal knowledge and interpersonal skills required to run a pharmacy counter remain in demand. Over the next decade, more Americans are expected to seek health services either because they’re getting older or because the Affordable Care Act has made prescriptions, well, more affordable. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a slower-than-average 3 percent employment growth for pharmacists by 2024, with the field adding 9,100 new jobs. Employment of pharmacists is expected to decline slightly in traditional retail settings because more people are having their prescriptions filled online or through mail order.
Pharmacists rank #18 in Best Paying Jobs. Jobs are ranked according to their ability to offer an elusive mix of factors.
Pharmacists are ranked:
The median annual salary for a pharmacist was $120,950, or $58.15 per hour, in 2014. The best-paid 10 percent made $150,550, while the lowest-paid made $89,320. The best-compensated pharmacists are employed by scientific research and development companies. Some of the highest-paid in the profession work in the metropolitan areas of Santa Cruz, California; Gadsden, Alabama; and Fresno, California.
75th Percentile $138,010
25th Percentile $106,520
Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that’s fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here’s how this job’s satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.
Upward Mobility Above Average
Opportunities for advancements and salary
Stress Level Above Average
Work environment and complexities of the job’s responsibilities
Flexibility Below Average
Alternative working schedule and work life balance
How to Get a Job as a Pharmacist
“Don’t look at the job you want today,” Free says. “Look at the position you’d be interested in 10 or 20 years and see what the job requirements are.” For instance, if you want to go into management, you might need some business classes – or a dual PharmD and business degree. And although about 40 percent of pharmacists work in pharmacies or drug stories, jobs with mail-order or Internet pharmacies or wholesalers are expanding. Large pharmacy groups also often maintain administrative, lobbying, marketing or real estate arms staffed with trained pharmacists. Free also highly recommends that pharmacists complete a residency after graduation. “A residency helps you develop skills that will set you apart. It makes you more marketable,” she says. And getting involved in an association, such as the American Pharmacists Association, will help with networking and job searching.