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What is the Average Pharmacist Salary in the U.S.?

Have you been considering a job in the medical profession but you don't want to become a doctor or a nurse? A career as a pharmacist can be extremely rewarding, particularly if you have a passion for helping people and being somewhat of a public health educator. Pharmacists do so much more than simply preparing prescriptions. They perform many important public health services for their local communities that many people are not aware of. A career in pharmacy can be fulfilling as well as lucrative as well because the pay is excellent. If this is something you've been thinking about, continue reading to learn more about what a pharmacist does, how to become a licensed pharmacist and how much the profession pays.

What is a pharmacist ?

Pharmacists are experts in medications, their properties, preparations and recommended dosages for humans for the treatment of health conditions. They are referred to in some areas as druggists, or chemists in some countries. There are strict licensing requirements for becoming a pharmacist and this is accomplished through university level training and the earning of a degree, with strong concentrations in biochemical mechanisms, the actions of drugs, human anatomy, physiology and general health. Degrees in pharmacy are required prior to licensing.

They are highly trained professionals who have a working knowledge of how each drug or remedy prescribed interacts with the body as well as how they help to correct certain medical conditions, along with how they interact with other drugs and sometimes foods, as well as any potential side effects. This is just the beginning though. Pharmacy is a much more broad and in-depth profession which includes multiple facets. It requires a working knowledge of current trends in healthcare as well as staying on top of new medications as well as public health emergencies, the need for immunizations and public health education.

What does a pharmacist do?

As a pharmacist you will become responsible for ensuring that the medicines distributed to patients are of high quality and that all prescriptions are supplied legally. In addition, pharmacists are responsible for making sure that the medications that are prescribed for patients are suitable for treating their conditions. There have been many instances when pharmacists have caught mistakes that have been made by prescribing physicians. After preparing prescription medications, pharmacists offer counseling for patients by providing them with an overview of what the prescription is used to treat, they go over the dosages, when the medications must be taken, sometimes the duration of the treatment, any reactions that might happen as a result of taking the medication, and answering any questions that the patient may have about the medication.

Often, lead pharmacists also oversee pharmacy staff and participate in training of other pharmacists and assistance, they oversee the pharmacy department to ensure that staff render the proper assistance to customers and they also provide advisement for customers who have questions about remedies sold in the pharmacy that may be over the counter treatments which do not require prescriptions. Some pharmacists also provide immunizations for the public, blood pressure checks, and general information clinics on important health topics such as smoking cessation, cholesterol management, any outbreaks of disease which are taking place locally and prevention of health issues. In addition to this, pharmacists ensure that billing for insurance claims are submitted in a timely manner and in the right way. There is a lot of administrative work required to make certain that the pharmacy department is running efficiently.

Training and educational requirements for becoming a pharmacist

In order to become a pharmacist, you will need to obtain a Pharm.D. degree. This is a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and it must be earned through a program that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. There are certain steps that you'll need to take in order to be eligible for the program. Some programs require you to have some college in advance while others require a bachelor's degree for program admission. The first step to becoming a pharmacist is to enter an accredited college or university and earn a bachelor's degree in a health related or science field that is heavy on chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, calculus, statistics, and biology. You must keep your grades as high as possible because your GPA will count when you apply for admission to a Pharm. D. program.

Admission to a Pharm D program

After earning your bachelor's degree, you will need to apply for an accredited Pharm D program. You will be required to take several different pre-test before admission. There are seven total and they are grouped under the PCAT test which assesses your knowledge of chemistry, biology, reading comprehension, quantitative ability, verbal and writing abilities. This is why it's so important to prepare with coursework that will give you the necessary competency in these areas during your undergraduate studies.

Different types of pharmacy degrees

Students who enter pharmacy school will have a variety of degree options to choose from. While a licensed pharmacist must possess a doctoral degree, there are other pharmacy roles that do not require this extensive training. Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists and require no more education than a GED or high school diploma and some younger assistants have even started their careers while still in high school. Pharmacy technicians must possess a high school diploma and an associate's degree or a certificate. Most pharmacies require at least some formal training in the field of pharmacology, but these only assist the pharmacist.

How long does it take to become a pharmacist?

The most common question asked by those considering becoming a pharmacist is how long it takes to complete the program. The answer to this question is that it will take a minimum of two years of undergraduate study that is followed by at least four years of professional pharmacy studies. The average time that it takes to complete a pharmacy degree is six years, and in some cases, seven. The only acceptable way to accelerate this time frame is if you already have a degree in a related science or healthcare, and even then, this probably won't reduce the amount of study time by much. To practice as a pharmacist in the United States, there is only one way to become licensed and that is to complete the requirements for pharmacy school admission (PSAR), and complete the program through a fully accredited pharmacy school.

Job prospects for pharmacists in the United States

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for demand for pharmacists is good. It is projected that there will be a fourteen percent increase in the number of pharmacists needed by 2022. Increases in the population along with the fact that the numbers among the elderly population are also increasing due to longer lifespan trends means that there is going to be a demand for more pharmacists. In the same regard, the competition for these jobs is also going to be higher because there are more people entering into the profession. Those who complete their Pharm.D. degrees and continue forward with additional certifications will have an edge over other competitors for the jobs.

Where do pharmacists work?

There are different types of pharmacists and they work in different environments. There are some pharmacists who own the pharmacies that they work at and others work in a managerial position at a pharmacy chain or other large retailer. Those who work for chains are known as community pharmacists. Some of these pharmacists give flu shots as well as providing some other primary care services. Clinical pharmacists work in clinics or hospitals and they may even go with physicians when they are making their rounds. Some of these pharmacists may provide testing and monitoring services for patients as well as overseeing the dosage and administration of certain drugs. The clinical pharmacists tend to be more involved in patient care than the dispensing medications. They provide direct patient counseling at hospitals and clinics and also discuss healthy lifestyle options that work together with the medications. Other kinds of pharmacists include Industrial pharmacists who are involved with research, development, marketing and sales and consulting pharmacists provide advisement for insurance providers or healthcare facilities. There are several different types of pharmacists and the environments and settings that they work in can be quite diverse.

Continuing education

Licensed pharmacists must maintain a current and valid license to legally practice in the United States. Although each state has its own list of specific requirements, there are some general rules which apply to all pharmacists. Continuing education in the form of course work that is related to the field must be completed by specific dates to prevent the expiration of a license. There is a minimum of 20 hours of continuing ed required over a two year re-certification cycle. The subject matter must pertain to pharmacy specific content, n accordance with the ACPE rules and guidelines found in the organization's Policy and Procedures Manual. Pharmacy Law is required as well as patient safety and at least one hour of each is necessary for two year period. You must achieve a grade of C or better in order for the credit hours to count towards your mandatory re-certification requirements. A transcript must be submitted to the Pharmacist Certification Board as proof, or a grade report of some type.

The average salary for pharmacists

Pharmacists earn a good salary but there are several factors that affect exactly how much you will make per year. On average, pharmacists in the United States earn between $121,998 to $138,520 with some making as little as $84,830 and others making more,. It really depends on how long you've been a pharmacist, your specialties or certifications, the state that you work in, your pharmacist type and the company that you work for. The salary range is broad in scope, but in general, the salaries have been increasing over the past few years, as much as 4.5 percent. When you walk away from the testing facility as a new graduate with a brand new license, you are automatically valued at a six figure income in the job market. One of the issues that new graduates face, however, is the fact that there is a huge demand, but also a lot of new graduates who are just entering the profession, so competition is a bit intense in some regions.

Final thoughts

Pharmacists earn a very healthy annual salary and the job can be immensely rewarding if you enjoy working with people and you are a good communicator. This profession requires as much as 6 to 7 years of formal education, but the pay compensation is commensurate with the time and money invested in the courses and training. Pharmacists do far more than simply filling prescriptions written by doctors. They must possess a thorough working knowledge of many drugs and compounds and also know how they interact with the body, what the proper dosages are and how they may interact with other medications. They must be able to educate patients in how much and when to take their medications and also warn of potential side effects, particularly those that make driving an automobile unsafe. Pharmacists are also community educators who provide a wealth of information for patients about their prescription medications as well as for the over the counter remedies that are also sold there. Some provide flu shots and other types of direct service for their clients. If you're considering this profession, it's a big commitment but it's one that is ultimately rewarding with excellent pay and benefits.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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