Career Guide | What Do Pharmacists Do?

pill bottle

Pharmacists are the clerks that compound and dispense medication to patients. They are the ones who handle our prescriptions and help us get the medicine we need.

Explore this Guide:

Common Pharmacists Duties

What does a pharmacist do? Pharmacists are important healthcare workers. They work behind the desks in pharmacies and manage all the work related to actually getting patients the prescriptions they need. These duties are going to include dealing with different insurance plans, communicating with doctors, and counseling patients about their treatment.

  • dispense medication
  • advise patients on proper medicine usage and safety
  • conduct wellness screenings
  • give out immunizations
  • counsel customers on medicines and offer suggestions
  • supervise pharmacy technicians or pharmacists in training
  • perform administrative functions for the pharmacy

Skills Pharmacists Need

Customer Service: Pharmacists have to deal with people every day. They work on the customer service end of healthcare facilities and are the ones who work directly with patients to get them the prescriptions and medicinal help they need.

Communication Skills: Pharmacists not only have to talk with customers they also have to coordinate their efforts to manage the pharmacy with their coworkers, and getting prescriptions filled out and ready for patients, and communicate effectively with doctors and doctors’ offices.

Follow Instructions: Pharmacists need to be able to accurately interpret the instructions given to them by their patients’ doctors. This ensures each prescription is filled out correctly. Then pharmacists have to reiterate these instructions to their customers, advising them on proper dosages and treatment.

Computer Skills: A lot of the work pharmacists do is on the computer. They use and keep digital files, patient records, and insurance plans. Being able to operate a pharmacy’s computer software is one of the skills you’ll need as a pharmacist.

Attention to Detail: Pharmacists need attention to detail so that they never miss anything important. They have to follow doctor’s instructions exactly since mistakes could be detrimental to the health of their customers. Pharmacists need to get the right dosage, not mix up products, and get the accurate prescription to each of their patients. They need to be very careful and detail oriented workers.

What Do Pharmacists Wear?

The most common dress code for pharmacists working in a pharmacy is business casual. Business casual includes clothing like dress pants and button-down shirts. But pharmacists also wear lab coats over their business casual attire. Pharmacist lab coats are often all the same color to act as a kind of work uniform and represent the specific pharmacy or store they work for.

Community Pharmacists

Community pharmacists refers to the pharmacists who work at pharmacies found within stores. This includes retail stores, drug stores, and independently owned pharmacies.

Other than where they work, they perform all the regular functions of any other pharmacist. They fill out prescriptions for their customers, answer health questions and concerns, advise customers about over-the-counter medications, and often give our flu shots during flu season.

  • give flu shots
  • fill out doctor prescriptions
  • make over-the-counter medication suggestions

Clinical Pharmacists

Clinical pharmacists refer to pharmacists who work in healthcare facilities. This might include hospitals, clinics, and any other facility that mainly deals in health. Clinical pharmacists also fill out prescriptions to patients but they also work in patient care. Clinical pharmacists take their pharmaceutical skills to the next level and play a more active role inside the health facility to advise on patient medications and dosage.

They also do more work educating patients. They help teach better healthcare practices, specific ones to your care and treatment plan.

  • work directly with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • advise patients and other healthcare professionals
  • make recommendations about medication, treatments, and dosage

Consultant Pharmacists

Consultant pharmacists are pharmacists who dedicate their work toward advising and improving pharmacies. They consult healthcare facilities, insurance providers, and pharmacies on ways they can improve and about updates in patient medication and treatment. Consultant pharmacists might also work for individual patients or senior centers, helping patients with their medication.

  • consult patients
  • consult doctors
  • consult other pharmacists
  • consult insurance companies

Pharmaceutical Industry Pharmacists

Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists are research pharmacists and pharmacists that work directly with the pharmaceutical industry. They are the ones who test and develop new drugs. They can also work in marketing, sales, or in developing the drug regulations that keep consumers safe.

  • create new medicine
  • conduct clinical trials on medications
  • create consumer safety guidelines for medications
  • work in the marketing and sales of medications

What Degree Do You Need to be a Pharmacist?

A Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become a pharmacist you need a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree will help you get into a pharmacy program later. As an aspiring pharmacist, you should look for pre-pharmacy degree programs for your undergraduate. There you’ll learn about anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmaceutics, pharmacology, and toxicology.

A Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Pharm. D)

Once you have your undergraduate under your belt you can go on to get your Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Pharm. D). In order to get into one of these programs you’ll need to pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Once you’ve been accepted into the program you can learn all about natural sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacokinetics, pathology, and therapeutics. In the final stages of your pharmacy degree you will start obtaining clinical experience.

What Certifications and Licenses Do Pharmacists Need?

All pharmacists have to become licensed with the state they work in. Every state will have their own requirements for pharmacist certification. Most pharmacists will have to pass 2 exams—the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). The first test has to do with your pharmacy expertise while the second test will include any state-specific pharmacy rules or practices.

If you’re going to give immunizations as a pharmacist then you’ll also need to be certified with the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program.

Pharmacists who want to specialize in a certain area by getting certified with the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. For example, pharmacists can become a certified diabetes, nutrition, or oncology educator.

What Do Pharmacists Make?

On average, pharmacists make almost twice as much as the average US household. The median yearly salary for a typical US household is about $61,937 a year. But in general, pharmacists make a median salary of $126,120 a year!



US Bureau Of Labor Statistics. “Pharmacists.”

General Pharmaceutical Council. “What does a pharmacist do?”

United States Census Bureau. “New Data Show Income Increased in 14 States and 10 of the Largest Metros.”


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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