Careers in Pharmacy

A degree in pharmacy opens the doors to a wide variety of career options. Depending on the specific degree they obtain, pharmacy graduates may end up working in any number of career paths and work environments.

Career paths and work environments include:

Community and Consultant Pharmacists

For many Americans, the community pharmacist has become the first line of defense in the health care system, and six out of every ten pharmacists provide care to patients in a community pharmacy setting. Some pharmacists pursue management positions within chain pharmacy practices or ownership of their own pharmacy. Others go on to found their own pharmacy consultation practices.

Hospitals and Other Institutional Settings

An increased number of pharmacists now practice in hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, neighborhood health centers, and health maintenance organizations. Contemporary hospital pharmacy practice includes a number of highly specialized areas, including nuclear pharmacy, drug and poison information, and intravenous therapy.

Managed Care Pharmacy

Increasingly, pharmacists are employed in various capacities within managed care organizations (MCOs), systems that are designed to optimize patient care and foster quality through greater coordination of medical services; HMOs are the best known form of MCOs. As managed care continues to assume a larger role in our healthcare system, opportunities for pharmacists practicing in these types of settings are expected to grow.

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Another set of career options lie in the pharmaceutical industry. Roles for pharmacy graduates include research and product development, quality control, marketing, sales, and administration.

Academic Pharmacy

Over 3,000 full-time faculty members work in the nation's colleges and schools of pharmacy. They are involved with teaching, research, public service, and patient care. Others serve as consultants for local, state, national, and international organizations. Becoming a member of the faculty at a college of pharmacy usually requires a postgraduate degree and/or training -- for example, a PhD degree in pharmacy, a residency, or a fellowship training following the professional degree program.

Governmental Jobs in Pharmacy

Pharmacy graduates use their basic educational backgrounds in a variety of positions in the federal government. These include staff and supervisory posts in the U.S. Public Health Service, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Food and Drug Administration, and all branches of the Armed Services.