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Starting a Pharmaceutical Career

Updated on July 2, 2013

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

With the chance to ease pain and save lives, a pleasant and climate-controlled working environment, and the ability to interact with people as an authority figure, pharmaceutical careers may prove ideal choices for many students and jobseekers. Starting in the career can begin before high school and continue to a post-graduate degree.


Those interested in a pharmaceutical career can prepare for it by honing useful skills in elementary and high schools. Good people skills are needed for interacting with customers and doctors, so participating in group activities or student government is helpful. The ability to communicate verbally helps with offering advice to customers and eliciting information from doctors, which can be improved in such activities as speech, debate and drama. Good analysis and an orientation to detail ensure that medicines are correctly mixed and apportioned. Excelling in science and math can highlight these characteristics.


Those wanting a taste of a pharmaceutical career without much investment of time can become pharmacy aides, which only requires a high school diploma. Aides receive much of their training on the job from pharmacists, pharmacy technicians or more experienced aides. These workers learn the clerical side of the industry, performing such tasks as receiving and stocking supplies, greeting customers and answering phones, cleaning public areas, and operating cash registers and packaging purchases. As of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy aides earned a mean $23,350 per year, or $11.23 per hour.


Aides who enjoy their taste of the pharmacy life can become pharmacy technicians who help pharmacists by mixing compounds and medications, counting tables and measuring dosages, and packaging and labeling prescriptions, under the watchful eye of pharmacists. A high school diploma is also the minimum requirement, with on-the-job training. However, postsecondary credentials are available from vocational colleges, which take only about a year to complete. Many states specify the requirements for technicians, which may include background checks, formal training and passing exam. Pharmacy technicians averaged an annual $30,020, or $14.43 per hour.


The ultimate pharmaceutical career belongs to pharmacists who fill the prescriptions of doctors, educate patients on health matters and supervise subordinates. Getting this career started begins with at least two to three years of undergraduate courses. However, most pharmacy training applicants go for the full four-year bachelor’s degree. Students then continue for another four years in Doctor of Pharmacy programs. Advanced pharmacy training, such as in research, typically demands a one to two year residency after completion of the postgraduate program. All states also require a license for pharmacists, which they obtain by passing an exam on pharmacy skills and another on pharmacy law. Pharmacists made a mean $112,160 per year, or $53.92 per hour.


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    • antigravity profile image

      antigravity 2 years ago

      This is good career option because it is evergreen job with a good salary option.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Alocsin, voted up, useful, and interesting. This is the field to be in at this point and time. I wish I could open my own pharmacy, although you are talking about techs. The money in the pharmacy industry is mind blowing, more then many know. Very informative and useful information Alocsin. Take care.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      This is an interesting and useful hub. One of my best friends in college in the early 60s was a pre-pharmacy major. I was in pre-med at the time and I remember we had to take the same kind of chemistry courses which included general inorganic, qualitative and quantitative analysis, and one year of organic chemistry plus lab. The chemistry wasn't easy. We also had to take a course about the Greek and Latin origins of medical terms. I remember that there was a professional pharmacy fraternity for pharmacy majors. My friend went into a prharmacy school after getting a 4 year degree in pre-pharmacy. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Interesting information about the requirements and average wages of a pharmacy aide, pharmacy tech and pharmacist. When you consider the amount of education required to become a pharmacist, even the figure of more than $50/hour is a fairly paltry sum.

      Great hub; voted up and Shared.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great information! I had considered this as a carrer field when I was younger but success depends on great math skills. As a public service, I chose something else. Accuracy and math skills are so important. :)

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      This was one of my careers of choice many years ago. Here in Peru, pharmacists are also paid well and they often do the job of a doctor, prescribing medicines for many common ailments. Although the larger pharmacies have computer systems, many of the smaller pharmacies are much less automated. Voted up and shared!

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 5 years ago from USA

      A very good opportunity to get a profession that might bring a decent income for the family.... However, there's much more to the moral side of pharmaceuticals. It is no secret nowadays that medications can bring more harm than help. Medications can ruin people's health, lives; can alter their behavior.....

      Pharmaceutics is not a healthcare, it is sick care....

      Right eating habits, regular exercises and visits to a chiropractor can do miracles for people without any use of medications....

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My husband's parents were both fact they met at Drake University in Iowa where they were both studying to become pharmacists. Unfortunately my husband's dad died after just coming back from WW2. I wrote about that in my hub Funny Wedding Words of Advice for the Bride ~ 1942 case you are interested.

      All throughout my mother-in-law's pharmacy career she was paid less than her male counterparts in the same pharmacies even though she put in just as much work and hours. Hopefully by now that has gotten resolved. Now there are many more female pharmacists verses back in her day and time.

      It is a good career. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a great career, and one that I considered myself at one time.

      Helping relieve people of their pain and aliments must be very rewarding.

      Voted up and interesting. Tweeting pinning.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Really interesting career, and the wages are pretty good too, which is how it should be for such an important job, great hub, voted up, nell

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      This is a great career choice, rewarding both financially and through helping others.

      Shared, up, useful, pinned and tweeted.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I guess the goal is to become a pharmacist. The entry level jobs are rewarding, but the pay of the pharmacist really proves your efforts pay off.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I have a client whose daughter just received a certificate as a pharmacy technician. It was a great day of celebration. Now, after reading your article I can see why. Thank you for the valuable information.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      My sister in law is a pharmacist and my mother in law was one - so this had particular relevance. Awesome hub and it's amazing how when they went to school, it was like a four-year degree + another year or two specializing would do it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      This is one area I regret that I did not pursue. Now I'd like to be even an aide. Or can I hope to do that well on HubPages. Great hub as usual. Voted Up!