Clinical Pharmacist Career Information

Mar 18, 2019

Read on to discover what a clinical pharmacist does. See what the education and training requirements are for this job, and learn more about job prospects for clinical pharmacists.

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Career Definition for a Clinical Pharmacist

Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies where they prescribe medication and recommend necessary over-the-counter drugs after evaluating the unique needs of their patients. Clinical pharmacists then observe the patients' recovery and make sure the medication is working as expected, making changes if there are any unexpected drug interactions or severe side effects.

Required Education Pharm.D; all states require a license
Job Duties Include prescribing medication, evaluating the needs of patients, observing the patients' recovery
Median Salary (2017)* $124,170 (pharmacists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% growth (pharmacists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Clinical pharmacy positions require a Pharm.D degree on top of a 4-year bachelor degree. It usually takes students three or four years to complete a Pharm.D. program. All 50 states have laws stating that pharmacists must have a license in addition to the required education. In addition, clinical pharmacists may need to complete a residency. The criteria for licensure vary by state, but usually include a series of written tests that must be repeated every few years. Students interested in becoming clinical pharmacists should take classes covering chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, psychology, and biology.

Skills Required

Clinical pharmacists need to pay close attention to detail and should have a firm science background. They also need excellent communication skills and must be able to effectively counsel patients about the effects of required medication.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted job growth of 6% for pharmacists from 2016 to 2026, which is considered as average. The median salary in the field was around $124,170 annually in May 2017. An increased emphasis on using medication to treat a number of mental and physical ailments is expected to create sustained job growth in clinical pharmacy for many years, though an expanding number of pharmacy graduates has increased competition for positions.

Alternate Career Prospects

Here are some examples of alternative career options:


Biochemists study cells, how they work, and why the behave as they do. Areas of research may include how certain drugs interact with cells. Biochemists design and carry out research projects, writing up results for presentation to others. They usually have a Ph.D. in biochemistry and possess extensive lab experience. The BLS reports that jobs for biochemists and biophysicists are expected to increase 11% from 2016-2026, and that these professionals earned a median salary of $91,190 in 2017.

Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician may work in a pharmacy or hospital. He or she works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to fill prescriptions for customers or patients. Pharmacy technicians who work at a hospital may also deliver medications to patients. Some pharmacy technicians earn a 1-year certificate, while others gain their knowledge and experience through on-the-job training. Certification and licensing requirements vary by state. Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to increase 12% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS. They earned median pay of $31,750 in 2017.

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