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What does a pharmacist do?  

Pharmacists sell medicine to people who are sick when a doctor says that they need it. They tell people how to use the medicine correctly. They warn doctors if the doctors have asked their patients to take any medicine that might hurt them. Sometimes, pharmacists mix the medicine themselves. Most often, though, they sell medicines that have been made for them.

Pharmacists most often work in drug stores. These stores are clean and have a lot of light. Many pharmacists must stand most of the time while they work. Pharmacists must wear gloves and masks when they work with things that could hurt them. Some pharmacists work at night or on weekends. This is because sick people may need medicine at any time. Most pharmacists work about 40 hours a week, but some work longer hours.

How do you get ready to become a pharmacist?  

Pharmacists must have a license from the State in which they work. To get a license, a person must have gone to college to study pharmacy. (It usually takes at least 6 years of study, including college and pharmacy school, to become a pharmacist.) The person must pass a test given by the State government. The person must also work with a licensed pharmacist for a period of time to get on-the-job training.

People who want to be pharmacists should be good at science and math. They should be good at dealing with people. They should also be able to work carefully, because they often deal with strong drugs.

How much does a pharmacist make?  

The middle half of all pharmacists made between $66,210 and $87,250 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $54,110. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $94,570 a year.

How many jobs are there?  

There were about 230,000 pharmacists in 2002. Most of them worked in drug stores. Some worked in hospitals and other places.

What about the future?  

Employment of pharmacists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2012. The reason is that there will be more elderly people in the future, and they will probably need medicines to deal with the problems of getting old. More pharmacists also will be needed as more new medicines are developed in the future.

Very good employment opportunities are expected for pharmacists. This is because not enough qualified people will be available to fill all the job openings.

Are there other jobs like this?  

  • Biological scientists
  • Chemists
  • Medical scientists
  • Pharmacologists
  • Pharmacy aides
  • Pharmacy technicians

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where can you find more information?  

More BLS information about pharmacists and similar jobs can be found in the Careers Database

Questions or Comments?
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