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8 Different Types of Jobs for Pharmacists (Career Opportunities)

A portrait shot of happy male Pharmacists.

Ever heard the one about the little boy who wanted to be a Lamborghini when he grew up? No?! Well, the story goes that since the boy was a toddler, he had heard his dad express his wish for a Lamborghini. “Oh, how I so wish I could have a Lamborghini,” the dad would sigh whenever he was with the boy.

So, to please his dad, whenever the boy was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would reply, “I wish to be a Lamborghini when I grow up!” And proudly looked at his dad. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (sob!!) Anyway, the boy’s story kinda reminds me of what I recently witnessed between Lil Lily, my youngest, and her grandma.

Just the other day, the two of them were “bonding” (as mumz calls it) while playing with Lil L’s dollies, when she suddenly sent Lil L to get the high blood pressure medication in her medicine cabinet and bring it. When Lil L returned with the correct medication, Grandma was all smiles, “Oh thanks, sweetie, you should become a pharmacist when you grow up!” Grand enthused, besides herself, that Lil L had brought the correct medication.

After a minute or so’s silence, I then heard Lil L woefully say, “But, Grandma, I don’t want to be a farm assist when I grow up, I want to be an aeronautical engineer!” she bemoaned, sulking. Giggling gleefully, Grandma explained-not a Farm Assist sweetie-a Pharmacist…

Also known as chemists or druggists, pharmacists are basically health professionals. They serve as primary care providers in the community who control, prepare, preserve and give out medications. In addition, they also provide advice and counseling on how medicines should be used to achieve maximum benefit, with as few side effects, ensuring that their patients avoid drug interactions.

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Interesting Grandma, just what kind of schooling and licensing does a PHARM-A-CIST need?

Good, intelligent question, sweetie. Like most professionals, pharmacists must have a university or graduate-level education. During this education, pharmacists learn anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology.

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In these university courses, they are taught to understand the biochemical mechanisms and actions of drugs, drug uses, therapeutic roles, side effects, potential drug interactions, and monitoring parameters. Once they have graduated, pharmacists can look for work in traditional pharmacy-career pathways. Entry-level jobs include pharmacy clerk, pharmacy dispenser, pharmacy technician, and pharmacist and, over time, advancement positions can be to work as a chemotherapy pharmacist, nuclear pharmacist, and long-term care pharmacist.

The most common pharmacist positions are that of a community pharmacist (also known as a retail pharmacist, first-line pharmacist, or dispensing chemist and hospital pharmacist). In these positions, pharmacists interpret and communicate their specialized knowledge to patients, physicians, and other health care providers on the proper use and adverse effects of medically prescribed drugs and medicines. Different countries have diverse licensing requirements.

However, generally, they require that a pharmacist wishing to practice in their country hold either a Bachelor of Pharmacy, Master of Pharmacy, or Doctor of Pharmacy degree, as well as a certificate of registration from their council or association of pharmacists. In the United States, all pharmacist graduates must hold the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree before they can sit for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and enter pharmacy practice. In addition to that, pharmacists must also sit state-level jurisprudence exams if they would like to practice from state to state.

But Gramz, with most current job types becoming obsolete, what types of alternative pharmacist-career options will there be for me?

No fear sweetie, Gramz is here to career guide you-where your father can’t-playful sneer in my direction. Qualified pharmacists can also practice in a variety of other settings, including industry, wholesaling, research, academia, formulary management, military, and government. Alternative career options or non-traditional career paths for pharmacists include…..

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1. Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs jobs

Happy friendly multiethnic pharmacist doing an inventory in a provided and modern pharmacy while looking at the camera.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

Pharmacists who, after taking the traditional career pathway, can decide to pursue this route. Typically, as a pharmacist who has specialized in pharmaceutical law and regulations, in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs j0b, you can advise doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and related institutions, on legal issues that relate to the pharmaceutical aspect of a business. As such, you will be providing commercial and healthcare-related legal support to a company in its sale of medical device products, services, and solutions.

A good example of a pharmaceutical regulatory affairs job is that of a Regulatory Affairs Manager. Regulatory affairs managers ensure companies remain compliant with rules and regulations set by different regulatory agencies. They oversee the regulation process, create procedures to verify compliance, and coordinate company inspections.

Why a good fit?

This is a good fit as it builds on a pharmacist’s knowledge of pharmacy and understanding of the pharmaceutical industry’s regulatory framework.

Is Training required?

At least a Bachelor of Pharmacy and Degree: J.D. from an accredited U.S. law school and admission to a state bar.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$163,000 – $183,000 per year. Full-time.

Outlook in the industry?

With Covid-19 still with us, the long-term effects of Covid-19 vaccines have yet to be fully experienced and other pandemics are threatening (i.e. Monkey Pox), the pharmaceutical regulatory affairs’ outlook is most promising. The ability to collaborate with, learn and grow in this highly complex, global sector cannot be overlooked.

2. Public Health Pharmacist jobs

Shot of a handsome male pharmacist standing at the drugstore counter and holding vitamins for sale. With a background of shelves with medicines.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

Once seasoned healthcare professionals, some pharmacists join the public health field wherein they can be matched to a variety of roles. The focus of public health pharmacists is on improving the health of the population through the use of medicines and pharmacy services. As such, they get involved in public health projects around pandemic readiness.

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In this role, pharmacists are involved in everything from managing the primary care organization pharmacy team to developing a plan for access to antiretrovirals in the event of an influenza pandemic. Alternatively, they can get directly involved in vaccine-drive projects in at-risk communities. Depending on their experience and graduate qualifications, they might also advise local, state, and federal public health authorities and policymakers.

Why a good fit?

As in a pharmacy, the public health system is intended to provide healthcare to all people, regardless of their income or citizenship status. The United States currently has a public health system that is considered a “two-tier” system. The first tier is made up of private insurance and public insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The second tier is made up of public health clinics and hospitals. Pharmacists can comfortably work in both. Aside from the fact that, as qualified pharmacists, they are used to dealing directly with the public, pharmacists are a good fit for public health jobs.

They are used to dispensing drugs, although this time in the field. In addition, as community pharmacists, some of them would be familiar with at-risk community members.

Is Training required?

PCT senior pharmacist posts require a postgraduate qualification, such as a clinical pharmacy diploma, and at least three to five years of post-qualification experience. Most applicants come from hospitals or community pharmacies. The most common route is through practice-based pharmacy, then through having been a pharmaceutical or prescribing adviser working under a PCT lead pharmacist.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$77,000$122,000

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Outlook in the industry?

In recent years, the two-tier system has been deteriorating due to cuts in funding. This deterioration has been accelerated by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. However, with Covid-19 variants still lurking around, and other pandemics threatening (i.e. Monkey Pox), the public health pharmacist jobs outlook remains very good.

3. Infusion and Compounding Pharmacists

Female pharmacist with protective mask on her face working at pharmacy.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

An infusion or compounding pharmacist is responsible for creating medication that is needed but not readily available. For example, if a child needs medication that typically is only available in adult doses, or only available in tablet form, an infusion and compounding pharmacist can make the required medication and even administer it.

Why a good fit?

At times and in other places, referred to as druggists and historically apothecaries, to pharmacists, the making of medical concoctions is almost second nature. Consequently, creating urgently required custom-made medication is a good fit for them. 

Is Training required?

At least a Bachelor of Pharmacy and Graduate of an accredited School of Pharmacy. Broad knowledge of medication infusion and compounding.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$92,000-$116,000 a year

Outlook in the industry?

As new and old diseases and illnesses continue to exist, infusion and compounding pharmacists with a broad knowledge and understanding of medication infusion and compounding will be required.

4. Medical Science Liaisons

Male and female pharmacists with protective mask and face shield on their faces working at pharmacy.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

Act as scientific peers in the medical community. They ensure a product gets used properly and provide scientific expertise to their colleagues. Medical science liaisons also maintain communication and relationships with academic researchers, attend conferences and engage in discussions on drug therapies and diseases.

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Why a good fit?

Pharmacists are a good fit for this as they traditionally liaise with medical doctors about shared customers. Ensuring that a product gets used properly and provides scientific expertise is right up their alley. In this regard, they are used to engaging in discussions on drug therapies and diseases, as well as maintaining communication and relationships.

Is Training required?

An advanced degree in medical science (MD, PharmD, or Ph.D.) is strongly preferred. Candidates without an advanced degree are required to have at least 7 years of industry MSL experience in the therapeutic area, and 4 – 8 years overall related experience.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$59,000-$86,000 a year

Outlook in the industry?

The outbreak of various diseases in recent years has led to a flood of research and development. This calls for a medical science expert that is familiar with liaising with research and medical professionals. And who can do this better than a former pharmacist?

This industry’s outlook is so bright you have to wear dark shades or go blind.

5. Medical Writers

Beautiful Caucasian Pharmacist Uses Digital Tablet Computer, Checks Inventory of Medicine, Drugs, Vitamins, Health Care Products on a Shelf.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

Medical writers create, draft, and write scientific papers such as research- or drug-related documents and literature or content for medical or healthcare websites. They write and edit their medical writing deliverables and work alongside scientists or doctors.

Why a good fit?

Other than the drafting, writing, and editing of scientific papers, generally, pharmacists are a good fit for this as they traditionally are from the scientific space. They are used to liaising with medical doctors and sharing information with them and the scientific world at large.

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Is Training required?

Bachelor’s degree, preferably in Pharmacy, and qualifications in Communications, Technical Writing, English or Science. At least 2 years of medical/pharmaceutical editing knowledge is preferred.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$71,000-$101,000 a year

Outlook in the industry?

As more and more work becomes remote/hybrid, but is mainly done online, the increased demand for content means that the outlook for this industry is bright. This is evident in the ever-increasing rates per hour for medical writers in the U.S.A.

6. Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Pharmacist giving medicine box to customer in pharmacy. Doctor showing and explaining medicine dose to customer.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

There is no business like the selling business. Pharma sales reps sell their company’s pharmaceutical products. They educate medical professionals on these products and on how their drugs, devices, and treatments can meet their patient’s needs.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives also help medical professionals see how their products differ from those of their competitors.

Why a good fit?

To some extent, a pharmacist is a glorified storekeeper. They are in the business of selling. As such, this position is a good fit for them.

Already used to selling their wares to the public, educating medical professionals about their products comes naturally to them and is arguably easier. This is especially as medical professionals are conversant with what the sales rep will be communicating to them and are also used to pharmacists trying to persuade them to products they think differ from that of their competitors.

Is Training required?

A minimum of a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Pharmacy attained from an accredited university/college. At least 2 years of medical/pharmaceutical sales and marketing experience and/or knowledge would be an added advantage.

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How much it pays (pay range)?

$70,000-$99,000 a year

Outlook in the industry?

The various drugs recently manufactured by Big Pharma to combat the various variants of Covid-19 and before that, HIV-AIDS require sales reps who are knowledgeable of their products, how they work and how they should be administered. What this means is that the outlook is rosy for this industry. 

7. Clinical Research Associate

A male pharmacist standing in a drugstore.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

The management of clinical trials and studies related to pharmaceutical and biotechnological products, drugs, and procedures requires a clinical research associate. A clinical research associate performs research to ensure the safety of these products on the market.

Why a good fit?

This is a good fit in so far as being a pharmacist entails the management of pharmaceutical, biotechnological products, and drugs. A pharmacist would be familiar with some of the processes of this job.

Is Training required?

You must have at least a Masters and, at most, a Ph.D. and five years of relevant experience. Preference will be given to candidates that have previous leadership of a research team and have served as a primary investigator on funded studies.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$68,000-$103,000 a year

Outlook in the industry?

The current flood of research and development requires extra hands in the form of knowledgeable and experienced associates. Medical science expertise that is familiar with pharmaceuticals is invaluable and highly sought-after. This makes the industry’s outlook promising.

8. Pharmacologist

Portrait of professional pharmacist in a modern drugstore.

What the job is (tasks involved)?

Pharmacologists study and test new medications and chemical compounds for the development of drug therapies and the prevention of harmful drug interactions. They evaluate potential side effects of different drugs, conduct experiments, interpret data and manage laboratory and staff members.

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Why a good fit?

The tasks of a pharmacologist speak directly and largely to those of a pharmacist. Just as a pharmacist’s tasks revolve around medications, chemical compounds, drug therapies, the prevention of harmful drug interactions, evaluating potential side effects of different drugs, and managing staff members, so does a pharmacologist. This makes being a pharmacologist the pinnacle of pharmacy.

Is Training required?

Ph.D. degree or equivalent in Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, Pharmacokinetics, or PharmD. 1-2 years of industry or equivalent experience and working knowledge of analysis software (e.g., WinNonlin, Phoenix NLME, and NONMEM) preferred. The ability to translate pharmacokinetic findings into potential clinical impact is highly desirable.

How much it pays (pay range)?

$1o6,000-$120,000 a year

Outlook in the industry?

In light of Covid-19 and other diseases currently taking the world by storm. Indeed, as Big Pharma will attest, pharmacologists are indispensable. You just have to look at their annual salary to agree.

In case the list above is still not exhaustive enough for you, you might also investigate these other pharmacist jobs that, time permitting, I would have loved to tell you about and discuss: pharmaceutical research assistant, research scientist, clinical research assistant, product development scientist, process development scientist, veterinary pharmacist; higher education lecturer; medical chemist, and geriatric pharmacist.

Wow, Gran, just answer the following FAQs on the types of jobs for Pharmacists and I will be sold to becoming a Pharmacist!

Q. What type of pharmacist earns the most         

A. Hospital/health system pharmacists are the highest paid at an average of $127,700 a year, or $61.41/hr.

Q. What is the best job for a pharmacist?          

A. There are so many more opportunities that can provide pharmacy graduates with an exciting and rewarding career! In a nutshell, the Top 12 Careers in Pharmacy are:

  1. Community pharmacist. …
  2. Hospital pharmacist. …
  3. Primary care pharmacist. …
  4. Researcher / academic. …
  5. Pharmaceutical industry / clinical trials. …
  6. Locum pharmacist.
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Q. How many years does a pharmacy degree to complete?       

A. On average, it takes THREE years to complete a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. It may take a year longer if it is an Honors degree.