Jobs in Pharmacy

Jobs in Pharmacy

Although the field of pharmacy is a “close-knit” community, there are numerous avenues you can take with regard to job selection. From entry-level jobs to executive positions, it is definitely not a “one size fits all” career. More often than not, people with a passion for pharmacy tend to work their way up to higher-level positions, accompanied by proper training and education. Even though there are many jobs within the pharmacy sector, each is as important as the rest in providing high-quality patient care. This article will touch on the most prevalent pharmacy positions and help provide more insight into what each entails. Hopefully it will help you find your avenue!

Pharmacy Clerk

Pharmacy clerk is a role within the pharmacy that requires little to no prior experience or formal education. Responsibilities are typically customer service-related rather than workflow or clinically related. This individual does not handle prescriptions or medications but instead handles the register and basic interactions with customers. This is a minimum wage position and does not require any prior pharmacy-related experience. If you are personable and customer service oriented, then this type of position is perfect to get your foot in the door of the pharmacy sector.

Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician is an individual within a pharmacy that performs workflow duties under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. Typical tasks for this position include: prescription data entry, medication counting, prescription preparation, customer service, telephone communication with patients and doctors’ offices, and basic compounding.

This role requires licensing with your specific state board of pharmacy. Prior pharmacy technician experience is not always required and on-the-job training is typical. Formal education is available but not always required depending on the employer. With that being said, it is highly recommended for an individual interested in pursuing this career path to become certified by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB®) Exam. Be sure to access our free test prep material for the PTCB® Exam. Starting pay for this position is typically a few dollars above minimum wage. Becoming certified has it perks, including higher base pay and increased chance of being hired over a candidate who is not certified.


A pharmacist is considered the “quarterback” of the pharmacy. Just like a quarterback in football, the pharmacist is in charge of the team and sets the tempo for the tasks at hand. The pharmacist is responsible for all clinical decisions and medication accuracy. The pharmacist on duty is also responsible for the work of all pharmacy clerks and technicians working under him/her during that shift. The pharmacist performs the final check of every medication before it can leave the pharmacy in a retail setting or before being administered to a patient in a hospital or inpatient setting. A pharmacy cannot operate without a pharmacist on duty.

Becoming a pharmacist requires graduating with a doctorate in pharmacy degree after successful completion of at least six years of college (prerequisites plus graduate school). An additional one to two years of post-graduation residency may be required if applying to specialized pharmacist positions. Pharmacists must also pass the NAPLEX® and a state-specific law exam to be able to practice. The typical starting salary for a pharmacist is around $100,000 to $125,000/year depending on the practice setting. The relatively high salary rate is compensation for the huge amount of liability and responsibility the pharmacist endures as the medication expert.

Pharmacy Manager (Pharmacist-in-Charge)

Every pharmacy employs a pharmacy manager, who is also typically known as the pharmacist-in-charge (PIC). This position is legally responsible for all operations of the pharmacy and its employees. The pharmacy manager is also responsible for making sure the pharmacy and its employees are up to date on, and in compliance with, all federal and state rules and regulations. In some settings, the pharmacy manager also works the bench and practices clinically.

Typically, a practicing pharmacist with years of experience is promoted into this type of position when the opportunity presents itself. Some states require a pharmacist to successfully pass a separate PIC licensing exam before transitioning into this position. The starting salary for this position is generally around $130,000+/year, depending on the practice setting.

Other Opportunities in Pharmacy

As mentioned earlier, the field of pharmacy is definitely not “one size fits all”. Although retail and hospital are the most prevalent pharmacy settings, there are many other opportunities available. Pharmacy technicians can also work for insurance companies, in pharmaceutical sales, doing remote prescription data entry work, in long-term care pharmacy, in mail-order pharmacy, and so on. Pharmacists can also work in the following sectors:

  • medical science liaison

  • medication therapy management

  • anticoagulation clinics

  • drug development

  • medical writing

  • federal government

The possibilities listed here are just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the many avenues available to you within the field of pharmacy. That is why it is so important to find your niche within the field and make a career out of your passion.

If you find yourself heading in the pharmacy tech direction, be sure to access our free practice tests, study guides, and flashcards for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board PTCB exam.

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