What does a Pharmacist do?

Median Pay $124,170
Growth Rate 6%
Citation Retrieved in 2017 from BLS.gov

A pharmacist provides prescription medication and immunizations to people and checks the accuracy of any medication given, as well as, it’s possible side effects and/or interaction with other drugs the person may be taking. They monitor the work of others that are assisting or training in the pharmacy and give any advise regarding health questions that patients may have.

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How to Become a Pharmacist


A pharmacist must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree. They must first earn a bachelors degree with postsecondary courses in chemistry, biology and anatomy. In addition, an applicant is required to take a Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) and once they are accepted they complete a 4 year professional degree with courses in chemistry, pharmacology and medical ethics to obtain the Pharm. D. In order to graduate they complete an internship and must show competencies as a pharmacist. Once they work as a pharmacist they are also required to take continuing education throughout their career to stay current in medication drugs and other information.

Job Description of a Pharmacist

A pharmacist follows doctor’s instructions on the accuracy and amounts of medication on a prescription and dispenses them to patients. They advise people about their medication, such as, interaction with other medication they may be taking or it’s side effects.

They may give counsel to a patient on issues, like, diet, exercise or other areas of concern, as well as, what supplies or equipment might be needed to treat their health conditions. A pharmacist would give out flu shots or immunizations. Part of their job is to have patient history collected and recorded and to be sure any insurance forms are completed and that these companies are cooperative in approving certain medicines for patients.

Pharmacists would oversee the work of interns or pharmacy technicians. A pharmacist can be found working in pharmacies of drug or grocery stores, as well as, hospitals or clinics. Some pharmacist work for the military or government. They normally work full-time and spend a lot of time standing on their feet.

Pharmacist Career Video Transcript

Whenever a doctor writes a prescription for a drug or treatment, a pharmacist is the person who measures out the medication and makes sure a patient knows how to take it safely. And while filling a prescription often means a visit to the local drug store or grocery store, pharmacists also work in hospitals. Typically, pharmacists spend most of the day standing at a counter, preparing and dispensing medication. They may also personalize or “compound” the medication, though that is now less common than it used to be.

Pharmacists are knowledgeable about medication ingredients and how they might interact with other medications. This is a profession that requires careful attention to detail. Making a mistake and dispensing the wrong medicine could have life-threatening consequences. Pharmacists also maintain patient records, inventory their supplies, and keep up registries of controlled drugs. Some pharmacists conduct research to develop new drugs.

Most work full-time, and since the timing of medications can be crucial, they may work nights and weekends. If you want to become a pharmacist, you’ll need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, then pass two licensure exams. For some, the demanding education and ongoing learning needed to stay current might be a hard pill to swallow, but knowing you help people get the medications they need to be healthy, can help the medicine go down.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pharmacists.

National Center for O*NET Development. 29-1051.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.