(8.2 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||69,700|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Healthcare Jobs||#3|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#3|
Even during a tough job market, the unique mix of medical knowledge and people skills required to run a pharmacy counter remain in demand. The more than 272,320 pharmacists in the United States dispense medicine and advice in tens of thousands of retail pharmacies and hospitals, as well as in mail-order, clinical, or corporate settings. Earnings potential remains relatively high in the field, and wages have climbed slightly from a year ago. While hiring has cooled a bit in recent years, experts say an aging population and increasingly complex medicines will keep industry growth healthy for years to come. A recent focal point in the industry is medication therapy management, or MTM. Pharmacists counsel patients by thoroughly reviewing their medications and finding the best way to reduce drug-related costs, but more importantly, the goal of MTM is to improve the quality of a patient's life.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 25.4 percent employment growth for pharmacists by 2020, with the field adding 69,700 new jobs. Solid employment growth and a high median salary help make pharmacist a top contender on this year's list of Best Jobs.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a pharmacist was $113,390 in 2011. The best-paid 10 percent made approximately $144,090 a year, while the lowest-paid made approximately $84,490. The field's best-compensated areas include residential mental health or rehabilitation facilities and consulting services. The highest-paid in the profession work in California near the metropolitan areas of El Centro, Napa, and Santa Cruz-Watsonville.
There's a long learning curve for pharmacists, usually starting with two years of professional study at a college or university before beginning a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program at a college of pharmacy that generally takes four years to complete. Then, there are several examinations to pass, and often a one- or two-year postgraduate residency program, or fellowships designed to prepare pharmacists for specialized areas like clinical practices or research labs. Some degree plans also include a master's degree in business administration (MBA) or public-health component. All states require a license to practice pharmacy and a specified number of hours worked in a practice setting as well. Some require additional exams covering pharmacy law.
The job hunt should start during school, with internships early in the process. "Exposure to patients and patient care during school will make them more successful," says Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy professional services at CVS Caremark. Also, while technical skills matter, evidence of leadership, communication, and conflict resolution can help set applicants apart from the pack. Business acumen also counts, since pharmacies are often part of larger retail operations. Broadly, pharmacists begin their career dispensing drugs and advice, but can move into supervisory or administrative positions covering multiple pharmacy locations or larger geographic regions. Also, jobs in mail-order or Internet pharmacies or wholesalers are expanding as well. Large pharmacy groups also often maintain administrative, lobbying, marketing, or real-estate arms staffed with trained pharmacists. "Today the options have broadened so much," Tankut says.
|Upward Mobility||Above Average|
|Stress Level||Above Average|
Last updated by Kirk Shinkle.