What is a pharmacist?

Pharmacists are responsible for knowing the purposes, effects, and side effects of various drugs. They should be able to tell from looking at a patient's profile whether or not it is safe to combine new medications with the medications that patient is already taking. Modern drugs have the potential to significantly improve patients' quality of life, however it is important that they are taken correctly, with the proper frequency and in the appropriate dosage.

Types of work environments

  • Community pharmacies.
  • Mail-order pharmacies.
  • Specialty Pharmacies.
  • Ambulatory care.
  • Outpatient clinics.
  • Compounding pharmacies.
  • Hospital pharmacy.
  • Emergency Departments.
  • Long-term care facilities.
  • Government healthcare systems (Veteran Affairs).
  • Home Care/Home Infusion.
  • Academia.
  • Drug Information centers.
  • Poison Control centers.
  • Informatics & Pharmacy Technology.
  • Managed Care settings.
  • Pharmacy benefit managers.
  • Nuclear pharmacy.
  • Pharmaceutical companies.

Education and training requirements

The education requirements for an entry-level position as a pharmacist may vary depending on the work environment. At a minimum, pharmacists must complete a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree to be licensed. This happens after typically taking 2-4 years of prerequisite courses, which are often completed as an organized pre-pharmacy program, and some programs also award a Bachelor's Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Jobs that have specialized settings, patient populations, or duties, including many hospital pharmacist positions, also require the pharmacist to complete at least one to two years of post-graduate residency training before applying. Some pharmacy school graduates also continue with post-graduate residency training before working in administrative roles, community practice, ambulatory care, and academia. Leadership roles and advanced positions in a pharmacy practice typically prefer pharmacists who also have an advanced degree (e.g. MS, MBA, etc.) or similar work experience.


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for a pharmacist is about $132,750 per year.

Professional organizations