Pharmacists today increasingly need business savvy along with clinical training and experience if they expect to advance in their careers. Management and administrative pharmacy positions are highly competitive; and those with skills in problem solving, communication and leadership often get the pick of the top jobs. Linking a pharmacy degree with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) also generally means a higher compensation package than those with a pharmacy-only degree.
Pharmacy Curriculum and License Requirements
To become a pharmacist, you will need to acquire a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. It's generally a six-year program, with the first two years devoted to coursework in biology, chemistry and mathematics. The remaining four years are an advanced curriculum in genetics, pharmaceuticals and medical ethics, among other courses. Entrance into a pharmacy program requires passing an admissions test and the Pharmacy College Admission Test, and your college must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. After graduation you will need to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam in order to practice as a pharmacist. Some states require additional licenses to practice.
Dual Degree Pharmacy Programs
In order to make pharmacists more well-rounded in specific job settings, dual degree programs are offered. Pharmacists take graduate-level courses in specific fields so that they become more useful to the organizations hiring them upon graduation. For example, the University of North Carolina offers a dual degree pharmacy program that blends pharmacy and MBA coursework. Other dual programs combine pharmacy with social work courses. At the University of North Carolina, the pharmacy dual degree MBA program is five years long, with coursework about evenly divided between the pharmacy and business school.
Starting salaries for pharmacists range from $80,000 to $113,000, with the higher salaries available at retail stores, according to Pharmacist Education Requirements. Dual degree pharmacists can expect to start at the higher end of the range, as they will most likely be supervising other employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook for 2010-2011 states the highest 10 percent of pharmacists earn an average of $131,440. Some of the highest-paid pharmacists work to develop new drugs and are employed by pharmaceutical companies. Other highly paid pharmacy specialists carry out cost/benefit analysis on specific drugs for the government, or evaluate drugs among specific patient populations. Pharmacists with an additional degree in business, statistics or some other field will advance faster in these specialized areas.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that excellent job opportunities are available to pharmacists through 2018. The pharmacist job category will grow faster compared to all other job categories. Earnings are relatively high but some pharmacists must work weekends and holidays.