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CAREER Paths in pharmacy

Finding Your Pharmacy Career Path to Success

Whether your passion is interacting one-on-one with patients, educating future pharmacists, developing safe and effective medications or improving the care of animals, you can discover a rewarding and inspired career in pharmacy.


Academic Pharmacists play a key role in educating future pharmacists and researching future pharmaceutical breakthroughs. Among the advantages of a career in an academia is having a flexible work schedule, interacting with students and the many opportunities for advancement. Areas of academic pharmacy include:

  • Clinical Practice
  • Economic, Social and Administrative Sciences
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences

Clinical Specialties

Pharmacists with an interest in a specific field can become board-certified specialists. Some specialty areas include critical care, nuclear pharmacy, oncology, pediatric and psychiatric pharmacy.

Community Pharmacy

As patients’ most accessible health care provider, community pharmacists play a critical role in maintaining and improving their patient’s health. Community pharmacists work with patients to fill their prescriptions, explain proper medication use and provide clinical services like vaccinations. They also work with physicians to identify possible drug interactions. Community pharmacy careers include:

  • Chain Community Pharmacy Management
  • Community Health Center
  • Compounding Pharmacy
  • Independent Community Pharmacy

Government Pharmacy

Careers in government pharmacy offer a variety of interesting opportunities, including clinical, research and administrative roles at the local, state and federal agency levels.

Hospital Pharmacy

Working directly with physicians and nurses, hospital pharmacists ensure that patients receive the correct medication in the right dosage at the right time. They may also consult with patients on how to take their medications once they are discharged from hospital care. If you’re interested in a strong interprofessional, patient care setting, hospital pharmacy may be right for you.

Long-Term Care Pharmacy

Long-term care pharmacists provide medicine and drug treatments for long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living communities, group homes and rehabilitation facilities. They also may serve specialty areas such as patients with HIV, multiple sclerosis or developmental challenges.

Managed Care and Pharmacy Benefit Management

Pharmacists working in this field are responsible for dispensing drugs, monitoring patient safety, developing clinical programs and managing costs. Many pharmacists in managed care work for health plans and pharmacy benefit management companies. Careers include:

  • Managed Care Outpatient Pharmacy
  • Mail Service
  • Pharmacy Benefit Management

Medical Communications

Pharmacists who specialize in medical communications work to educate health care professionals, consumers and other pharmacists about pharmaceutical products, including prescription drugs.

Work settings can include medical communications and education agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, learning institutions, managed care organizations, poison control centers and hospitals. Careers can include:

  • Association Management
  • Drug Information
  • Pharmacy Law, Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy

Nuclear Pharmacy

Nuclear pharmacists specialize in radioactive drugs and treatments for diseases such as cancer. Like community or hospital pharmacists, they fill prescriptions, but with radioactive medications. Nuclear pharmacists may work in larger hospitals or at commercial nuclear pharmacies where radioactive drugs are prepared and delivered to smaller hospitals.

Primary Care

Careers in pharmacy present a variety of rewarding opportunities to improve patient outcomes through direct patient care. Ambulatory care, home health care and office-based medication management are all settings that offer the chance to provide direct patient care. Learn more about these primary care careers:

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Home Health Care
  • Office-Based Medication Management

Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical researchers develop new medications, test new substances, evaluate existing products and create new dosage forms. They ensure that drug labeling is accurate and meets all state and federal requirements.

Careers in research and development can come with a high degree of pressure, but it also offers the satisfaction in helping discover innovative new treatments to improve patient care. Careers include:

  • Contract Research Organization
  • Corporate Management
  • Medical Science Liaison
  • Research and Development
  • Sales and Marketing

Specialty Pharmacy

These pharmacists focus on appropriate drug use in conjunction with ongoing monitoring of patient care. As a specialty pharmacist you develop expertise in dispensing medication for specific chronic and life-threatening conditions.

Veterinary Pharmacy

A key responsibility of a veterinary pharmacists is compounding medications to meet the specific needs of pets, their owners and veterinarians. Because the weight and size can vary greatly in different animal breeds, prescriptions need to be handmade to provide safe, optimum treatment. Veterinary pharmacists complete specialized training in veterinary pharmacology and therapeutics.

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