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Description of Career

  • Pharmacists distribute prescription drugs to individuals.
  • Advise their patients, physicians, and other health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications.
  • Monitor the health and progress of patients to ensure that they are using their medications safely and effectively.

Required Education

  • Pharmacists who are trained in the United States must earn a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited college or school of pharmacy.
  • Pharm.D. programs generally take 4 years to complete.
  • Graduates can obtain further training through 1-year or 2-year residency programs or fellowships
  • Residencies are optional postgraduate training programs in pharmacy practice and usually require the completion of a research project. The programs are often mandatory for pharmacists who wish to work in a clinical setting.
  • A license to practice pharmacy is required in all States and the District of Columbia, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • To obtain a license, one must obtain a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited university and then must pass a series of examinations:
    • All States, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia require the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)
    • Forty-four States and the District of Columbia also require the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which tests pharmacy law.
  • Prospective pharmacists should have scientific aptitude, good interpersonal skills, a desire to help others, conscientious, and pay close attention to detail because the decisions made by pharmacists affect human lives.

Future Job Outlook

  • Median annual wages of wage and salary pharmacists over the last year was $106,410.
  • The middle 50 percent earned between $92,670 and $121,310 a year.
  • The lowest 10 percent earned less than $77,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,440 a year

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


©2011 Wesley Hammond
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