Advancement Opportunities for Pharmacists

There are several career advancement opportunities for licensed pharmacists. An overview of three such possibilities is presented here along with salary information and job qualifications.

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Career Growth Options for Pharmacists

Pharmacists work in partnership with physicians and health teams who prescribe drugs to patients. They distribute medications and offer vital information to doctors and patients concerning the usage and side effects of certain drugs. Joining this field requires a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and a state license.

Many pharmacists become community pharmacists in retail settings. However, these professionals can complete one- or two-year residencies and leverage experience to move into more specialized, advanced positions. For those who want to take on additional responsibility, the chart below details three other job opportunities and their respective qualifications.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)** Job Growth (2016-2026)* Qualifications
Clinical Pharmacists $116,119 6% One- to two-year residency training program
Consultant Pharmacists $117,186 6% One- to two-year residency training program and clinical skills
Pharmacy Managers $128,669 6% Master's in Business Administration

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (; **PayScale

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Career Information

Clinical Pharmacists

With the right experience and education, pharmacists can become clinical pharmacists. Individuals interested in this field need a Pharm.D. and one to two years of residency training to start off their career. Unlike drugstore pharmacists, clinical pharmacists work directly in patient care and provide recommendations on medicines needed for immediate treatment. They often monitor patients for adverse reactions and control drug delivery. Additional job duties may include administering medical tests, reviewing prescriptions, educating patients about their medication, and making rounds from patient to patient when necessary. These professionals tend to work in hospitals under the guidance of a doctor. They also may be employed at nursing homes and insurance companies.

Consultant Pharmacists

Pharmacists may be interested in promoting to an advisory or counseling role in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, mental institutions, hospices, and rehabilitation centers. Consultant pharmacists are responsible for providing professional advice to insurance providers or healthcare staff as it relates to choosing prescriptions for patients and improving pharmaceutical programs. They may supervise drug handling and manage pharmaceutical procedures. Some of their other tasks involve counseling patients, determining dosages, reviewing prescription usage, administering drug therapy, and consulting with patients, providers, and health management teams. A Pharm.D. is required along with state licensure and completion of a one- to two-year residency. Having some clinical experience helps.

Pharmacy Managers

Community pharmacists may also aim to become pharmacy managers, taking on the supervisory responsibilities associated with their workplace. This job consists of monitoring the operations of a pharmacy store. Pharmacy managers control inventory, help their staff collect orders, distribute prescriptions, fill new orders, refill prescriptions, manage employee activity, arrange payroll, and ensure the dispensing of safe and reliable drugs.

A Pharm.D. and state license is needed before pursuing this career. However, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is also recommended since this job centers on working with customers and supervising business operations. Pharmacy managers need to be able to apply industry skills and experience to this role and be comfortable managing business operations in a retail setting. They may even own their own pharmacy or manage multiple pharmacies.

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