Pharmacy career options

Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.

Future pharmacists can get the right start at PennWest California, which offers an Early Acceptance Program with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), enabling PennWest California biology majors to move on to professional education and a career in pharmacy, dentistry or osteopathic medicine.

Under the Early Acceptance Program, qualified PennWest California undergraduates in the B.S. in Biology: Pre-professional program can be assured of provisional acceptance (a “reserved seat”) in LECOM's School of Pharmacy, School of Dental Medicine  or the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Students in the Early Acceptance Program must complete a successful interview and meet all academic requirements.  

Positive Job Outlook

Pharmacists work in pharmacies, including those in drugstores, general merchandise outlets and grocery stores. They also work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), a four-year professional degree. They also must be licensed, which requires passing two exams. 

The median annual wage for pharmacists was $124,170 in May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The American Pharmacists Association explains that many pharmacists specialize in practice areas similar to medical specialties, and some have created unique skills and opportunities. Pharmacist specialties are wide-ranging, including adult medicine, ambulatory care, cardiology compounding, critical care, diabetic care, hematology/oncology, hospice, immunization services, internal medicine/general practice, long-term care/geriatrics, nephrology, neurology, nuclear/radiopharmacy, nutrition support, pediatrics, poison control, psychopharmacology, sports medicine, transplant and veterinary pharmacy.

Many pharmacists have obtained additional training in a specific disease state or have gained extensive on-the-job experience and have gradually migrated into that clinical area. Most started in traditional pharmacy practice and then pursued the clinical practice area for which they had a passion.

Job Outlook

Employment of pharmacists is projected to grow 6% through 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increased demand for prescription medications will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical dervices, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More pharmacists will be needed in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals and clinics. These facilities will require more pharmacists to oversee the medications given to patients and to provide patient care, performing tasks such as testing a patient’s blood sugar or cholesterol levels.

The large baby-boom generation is aging, and older people typically use more prescription medicines than younger people. Higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes among all age groups also are expected to increase the demand for prescription medications. In addition, scientific advances will lead to new drug products.

Employment of pharmacists in some traditional retail settings, such as grocery stores, is projected to decline slightly as mail-order and online pharmacy sales increase, says the BLS.

The number of pharmacy schools has grown in recent years, creating more pharmacy school graduates and therefore more competition for jobs. Students who choose to complete a residency program gain additional experience that may improve their job prospects. Certification from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties or as a Certified Diabetes Educator also may be viewed favorably by employers. 

States with the highest employment level for pharmacists include California, Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Get your start today in the dynamic field of dentistry with foundational study in biology at PennWest California. Apply now!   

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Qualified biology majors can be assured of provisional acceptance in LECOM's College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Pharmacy or School of Dental Medicine.

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The pre-professional biology program at PennWest California and the Early Acceptance Program with LECOM can put you on the path to a successful career in dentistry.

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Healthcare occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups. Discover professional opportunities in pharmacy, dentistry and osteopathic medicine.

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