PharmacistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Most pharmacists work in pharmacies and drugstores, but clinics and hospitals also employ in-house pharmacists to dispense medications directly to patients. Health care workers often rely on pharmacists’ specialized expertise to help select and administer proper medications. Pharmacists may participate in patient rounds in hospitals, conduct clinical trials or research, help reduce the spread of disease, or focus on a specific health condition (e.g., asthma, diabetes, HIV, pain management).

A pharmacist is often the most accessible health care professional available to the general public, as most people in this country live within 2 miles of a pharmacy. Patients often consult with pharmacists about the safe and appropriate use of medications — both prescribed and over-the-counter. Pharmacists play a vital role in helping people recover from illnesses and stay healthy.

Sample job description

A pharmacist is an important healthcare professional who specializes in medication. They are responsible for preparing and giving out medications to patients. This entails accurately measuring medication doses, preventing dangerous drug interactions, and informing patients on safe ways to use their medications. Pharmacists need to be experts in their field, so anyone interested in becoming a pharmacist must earn a Pharm.D. to practice. [Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced pharmacist that has the proper education and knowledge of the industry that will allow them to flourish in this role. If you pay good attention to detail and have a strong desire to work with patients to keep them safe, then we would love to have you on our team as our pharmacist!   

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Review prescriptions to assure accuracy, to ascertain the needed ingredients, and to evaluate their suitability
  • Provide information and advice regarding drug interactions, side effects, dosage, and proper medication storage
  • Plan, implement or maintain procedures for mixing, packaging, or labeling pharmaceuticals, according to policy and legal requirements, to ensure quality, security, and proper disposal
  • Collaborate with other health care professionals to plan, monitor, review, or evaluate the quality or effectiveness of drugs or drug regimens, providing advice on drug applications or characteristics
  • Manage pharmacy operations, including hiring or supervising staff, performing administrative duties, and buying or selling non-pharmaceutical merchandise
  • Contact insurance companies to resolve billing issues
  • Compound and dispense medications as prescribed by doctors and dentists, by calculating, weighing, measuring, and mixing ingredients, or overseeing these activities

Education and experience

A master’s degree in pharmacy is required; Pharm.D. is preferred. A pharmacist needs a current state license, which requires passing two exams.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Thorough understanding of dosage administration and measurement, chemical compounds, medical brands, etc.
  • Excellent verbal communication and customer-service skills
  • Strong understanding of the major pharmaceutical computer software platforms
  • Enhanced problem-solving and critical thinking skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • 2+ years of working experience in a pharmacy setting
  • Values teamwork and demonstrates a positive attitude, good work ethic, and sound clinical acumen
  • Able to remain organized, analytical, and detail-oriented

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a pharmacist is $140,100 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$139,350$188,500
Los Angeles, California$157,200$212,650
Denver, Colorado$131,000$177,250
Washington, DC$159,550$215,900
Miami, Florida$130,400$176,400
Orlando, Florida$120,300$162,750
Tampa, Florida$121,450$164,350
Atlanta, Georgia$127,400$172,400
Chicago, Illinois$146,500$198,150
Boston, Massachusetts$158,400$214,300
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$126,250$170,800
New York City, New York$166,700$255,550
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$135,750$183,650
Dallas, Texas$132,200$178,850
Houston, Texas$131,000$177,250
Seattle, Washington$152,450$206,250
National Average$119,100$161,100

Typical work environment

Pharmacists primarily work in retail pharmacies, located in grocery and drug stores. However, pharmacists can also be found working in various clinics and hospitals. Some may even work for the government and military. Most pharmacists spend most of the day on their feet looking over and preparing various medication orders. Pharmacists can either work full-time or part-time. 

Typical hours

Although some pharmacists work 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, many work extended hours due to pharmacies being open at nights and on weekends.

Available certifications

There are many great certifications available to pharmacists that allow them to keep up with the rapidly changing scope of pharmacy practices. Check out the following: 

  • Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation (ACHC). The Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board supports the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation from ACHC, making it valuable to earn as an experienced pharmacist.  This certification teaches pharmacists how to make and provide customized medications when other conventional options aren’t working. This could include changing doses to include children or removing an ingredient a patient is allergic to, so they can still take their medication. Being introduced to compounding pharmacy is a great way to advance as an experienced pharmacist, making this certification valuable to earn. 
  • Point of Care Testing (POCT). The point-of-care testing certification is a great opportunity for any community pharmacist looking to make more money. This certification teaches pharmacists how to perform a variety of diagnostic tests outside of a lab that will produce fast and accurate results. If pharmacists choose to earn the POCT certification, they could charge patients directly for the tests they offer. This certification will expand patient care service while helping pharmacists make more money along the way. 

Career path

The career path for a pharmacist starts by first earning a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in the sciences, whether chemistry, biology, or physics. Then candidates must take and pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test). Pharmacists are required to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) postgraduate professional degree. An advanced position requires a one- or two-year residency. Last, every state requires pharmacists to be licensed, with additional certifications needed for administering vaccinations and immunizations.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 29-1051

2020 Employment322,200
Projected Employment in 2030315,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 2% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift7,000 decrease

Americans are taking more medicine than ever before, especially prescription drugs. Scientific advances continually lead to new pharmaceuticals, which increases the demand for distribution outlets.

Older people typically need more medicine than young people. As the oversized baby-boom generation ages, the demand for prescription medications increases. Also boosting demand: the rising rate of obesity in the United States, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes.

This upward trend in the consumption of medicine would seem to boost the need for more pharmacists. However, more and more consumers are buying their medications online or through mail order, which leads to fewer positions available for pharmacists in retail settings. Demand for pharmacists in health care settings such as hospitals and clinics is likely to increase.

Sample interview questions

  • Why did you become a pharmacist?
  • What do you like most about pharmacy?
  • What do you like least about pharmacy?
  • What is your biggest challenge as a pharmacist?
  • What traits do you possess that help make you a good pharmacist?
  • What would you do if a patient couldn’t afford their medication?
  • How would you hire a new pharmacy technician?
  • How do you inform patients about the medications they’re taking?
  • What do you do to make sure you stay up-to-date on new medications?
  • What do you do when a patient asks you about a medication you’re not familiar with?
  • What do you believe is the biggest problem that the pharmacy community is facing?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work? How did you resolve it?
  • How do you determine drug-seeking behavior? What do you do when you suspect someone is abusing drugs?
  • How much experience do you have with administering vaccines?
  • Is your pharmacy license current?
  • What would you do if a pharmacy technician disagreed with you on a specific decision?
  • Describe a time you quickly jumped to a conclusion you were wrong about
  • What would you do if an opioid medication was missing during an inventory check?

Pharmacist Jobs in Ashburn

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