Pharmacy is an ideal career path for anyone who wants to serve people without getting their hands dirty. With the appropriate academic background and license to practice, most pharmacy workers earn good salaries even without prior work experience. Of course, the financial rewards increase even more with time. Pharmacy professionals are responsible for dispensing prescription medications to ailing patients and providing expertise in the safe use of medicines. They work in pharmacies, which include those in hospitals, other medical facilities, drug stores, general merchandise, and grocery stores. Before becoming a pharmacist, one needs to undergo a 4-year professional degree in Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D). Additionally, he or she must gain the proper licensing, which requires passing two tests.
Is pharmacy a good career? Yes, I believe pharmacy is a good career because it comes with a sizeable salary and flexible working hours. Moreover, pharmacists are among the most highly respected medical professionals, and they don’t have to see blood while working. Pharmacy also comes with multiple options for where one wants to practice.
The demand for pharmacists is expected in to increase in various healthcare environments, which include hospitals and clinics. Such facilities will require more pharmacists to monitor the medications provided to patients, and to offer patient care (e.g., testing blood sugar or cholesterol). The baby-boomers generation is growing older, and aging persons typically take more prescriptions than younger persons. Higher rates of chronic ailments like diabetes among all age groups of today will also lead to demand for medication. So, for those who are probably asking, why become a pharmacist and not a doctor? What are the types of careers in pharmacy? Is pharmacist a good job? What’s the average pharmacist salary? Read on to find out.
Is Pharmacy A Good Career?
Starting a new career is usually exciting. It is a fresh opportunity to better one’s life. A career in the medical field offers one the chance to help people better their lives. Working in pharmacy is an excellent way to help other people without dealing with blood or other body fluids. For those who have any interest in the healthcare industry, it’s worthwhile to consider the pharmacy side.
However, before starting any career path, there are several things to keep in mind. It’s essential to understand the required academic qualifications, the work environment and what to expect. Additionally, it’s helpful to have an idea of the earning potential and job outlook too.
For that reason, I have listed below some of the things one should know before choosing a career in the pharmacy:
Working Hours Might Be Irregular
Many times, pharmacies operate at all hours. That can lead to irregular work schedules and possible night shifts for some pharmacy employees. Particularly early on, pharmacy technicians might be assigned overnight shifts. But, as one increases their work experience and moves up the ranks, they’ll likely have more autonomy over their schedule.
A Pharmacy Technician Career Can Propel One To Become a Pharmacist
Gaining a pharmacy technician certification may just be the start to one’s career path. Getting certification legitimizes one’s knowledge of the subject and prepares them for the rigorous academic requirements of becoming a pharmacist. For those who want to join pharmacy work, a certification in pharmacy tech may be the ideal entry-level position. The certification may also keep one up to date with advancements in healthcare technologies and terminologies
A Wide Array of Career Options
The different types of pharmacy career choices available make a favorable situation for a wide array of personality types. For instance, outgoing people who love customer service may prefer retail pharmacies. Hospital and mail-order pharmacies are excellent options for pharmacy workers who prefer minimal customer interaction.
Pharmacy Careers are on the Rise
The pharmacy industry is still in demand because of the aging population, and an increasing number of people who need pharmaceutical care. Furthermore, the establishment of new pharmaceutical treatments for previously untreatable conditions means more pharmacies will be required.
Excellent Communication Skills Are Essential
Pharmacy workers must be willing and have the ability to interact with colleagues and customers professionally. Pharmacy professionals working in retail environments absolutely require some customer service skills. Clients might have questions about prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines or supplements. Even in non-patient-facing pharmacies, excellent communication capabilities with doctors, insurers and other coworkers are crucial for success and patient safety.
It’s Paramount to Pay Attention to Details
Pharmacy work involves providing critical medications to patients. That means one’s actions could mean life or death for an individual. Accuracy is vital in pharmacy. Ensuring patients receive the right medication in the proper dosage needs great attention to detail. One of the most challenging aspects of working in a pharmacy is staying accurate while working fast.
Mathematical Skills Come in Handy
Both pharmacy technicians and pharmacists use math abilities in their work to ensure they have the correct dosage and measurements. Additionally, they utilize chemistry knowledge to make sure that compounds are mixed accurately for patients.
Most of the Work Day is Spent Walking or Standing
It’s important to get comfortable shoes when working in the pharmacy, because most of the work is done on the move. From checking inventory, interacting with clients, to filling prescriptions, the downtime is minimal.
Being a pharmacy professional is a great way to contribute to the growing medical industry and make a positive impact. Pharmacy professionals are entrusted with the crucial role of giving patients the means to attain better health.
Average Pharmacist Salary the USA and the UK
In the United States, pharmacists earn an average salary of $113,244. Entry-level pharmacists make an average of $102,067 while early career professionals earn $108,457. In mid-career, pharmacists take home about $117,302. With working experience of 10-19 years, pharmacists earn an average salary of $119,498. Professionals with 20 or more years of experience make $120,165.
The average salary of a pharmacist in the United Kingdom is £35,239. Entry-level workers earn around £29,602, early-career pharmacists earn £33,878, and mid-career professionals make £38,808 on average. Late-career pharmacists with at least two decades of experience earn an average wage of £44,965.
A career in pharmacy is diverse and rewarding, with numerous job opportunities. The following are some of the possible career pathways in pharmacy.
Types of Careers in Pharmacy
- Retail Pharmacy: A retail pharmacist dispenses medicine at a drug or grocery store. While the financial rewards are excellent, the working schedule may be tough since most stores stay open 24/7. Most retail stores hire two full-time pharmacists.
- Clinical Pharmacy: Professionals in this fieldwork in hospitals as part of medical care teams. They usually do rounds on patients with a doctor and help determine the necessary medications and doses for every patient.
- Long-Term Care: A long-term care facility provides ongoing care to senior or incapacitated persons who cannot care for themselves. A pharmacist working in a long-term care home doesn’t usually interact with patients directly. Nurses in the institutions are the ones who deliver drugs from the pharmacist to the patients’ rooms.
- Nuclear Pharmacy: A nuclear pharmacist measures and delivers the radioactive materials used in digital imaging and other medical procedures. The nature of the radioactive materials usually requires nuclear pharmacists to start work early, sometimes before dawn. Therefore, nuclear pharmacy is not suitable for people who are not early risers.
- Home Infusion and Chemotherapy: In this field, the pharmacists handle chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics for infections, and drugs for gastrointestinal issues.
- Pharmaceutical Benefit Management Companies: Here, corporations make an agreement with pharmaceuticals and healthcare insurers regarding coverage and reimbursement for drugs on various medical plans. However, jobs are no as many for pharmacists in such firms.
- Contract, Temporary, or Hourly Pharmacy: For those who are still indecisive about which pharmacy career suits them best, working on a contract basis may help. Such a career path provides great flexibility and versatility in working hours.
Why Become a Pharmacist and Not a Doctor
The path to becoming a doctor involves four years of undergrad, four years of medical school and 3-5 residency years. On the other hand, the pharmacy career only requires 2-4 years of undergraduate studies and four years of pharmacy school. The total training time for physicians is longer than for pharmacists. As a result, pharmacy graduates start working earlier than doctors.
Furthermore, one may also choose pharmacy over medicine if they don’t like the invasive procedures doctors have to perform. Pharmacists don’t usually get their hands dirty like physicians, since they mostly deal with prescribing medications.
Is Pharmacist A Good Job?
In order to determine whether being a pharmacist is a good job, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of the profession.
Pros of Being a Pharmacist
· Pharmacists have a wide array of fields of practice to choose from. Also, they can choose between working full time or part-time
· The job security is also promising because as long as people need medical care, the skills of pharmacists will remain valid
· A pharmacist’s occupation is less stressful in comparison to other medical roles like surgeons
· Pharmacists work in clean and good settings unlike physicians and nurses who risk contracting illnesses from their ailing patients
· The compensation is excellent in this career even for entry-level pharmacists
· Pharmacists have an option to work from home, as internet healthcare choices continue to increase
· Self-employment is an option for pharmacists. It also doesn’t take much time for one to establish their pharmacy. It’s possible to start an independent pharmacy in half a year.
Cons of Being a Pharmacist
· Pharmacy work is repetitive in nature
· The pharmacy market is highly competitive
· Pharmacists usually have to stand on their feet for long periods
· The price for pursuing a career in pharmacy is high, with many graduates grappling with high student loans debts
· Pharmacists are responsible for many levels of safety
· Working hours are not always favorable
The upsides and downsides of being a pharmacist indicate that hard work, commitment and willingness to prosper are essential. Although there are some drawbacks along the way, many pharmacists find the career incredibly rewarding.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.