Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may provide advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, and oversee the medications given to patients.

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Profession overview

Pharmacists typically do the following:

Some pharmacists who own their pharmacy or manage a chain pharmacy spend time on business activities, such as inventory management. Pharmacists must also take continuing education courses throughout their career to keep up with the latest advances in pharmacological science.

With most drugs, pharmacists use standard dosages from pharmaceutical companies. However, some pharmacists create customized medications by mixing ingredients themselves, a process known as compounding.

Is pharmacy a possible career for you?

Do you have the following qualities? If so, a career in pharmacy might be a good fit for you!

Professional education

Degree Offered

Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Years of Study

Six to eight years (two to four years undergraduate education plus four years professional education at a college of pharmacy)

The majority of programs accept students after three or more years of college and the completion of college course prerequisites; some pharmacy schools require or give preference to applicants with a bachelors (B.S./B.A.) degree.


PharmD graduates must pass a state licensure exam as well as a national pharmacy law exam in order to practice.

Choosing a pharmacy program

Choose a pharmacy program carefully based upon factors that are important to your own learning needs. Consider program content, geographic location, faculty, facilities, experiential training opportunities, class size, student demographics, extracurricular opportunities, and cost.

For state-supported public institutions, legal residence may have a significant impact on admissions decisions. Private institutions may offer out-of-state and foreign applicants a greater number of positions as compared to state-supported, public institutions.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook