How To Advance in Your Pharmacy Career (Plus Jobs and Skills)

Updated June 24, 2022

While a traditional pharmacy role can offer job satisfaction and a high salary, you may wonder what's next for your career. Pharmacists can pursue several advanced positions in their field, some of which involve research, law or managerial-related duties. Advancing your career as a pharmacist allows you to accept more responsibilities and increase your earning potential. In this article, we teach you how to advance in your pharmacy career and list job titles to consider pursuing.

Related: 11 Convincing Reasons To Become a Pharmacist

How to advance in your pharmacy career

Here's how to advance in your pharmacy career:

1. Identify your career goals

Identifying why you want to advance in your pharmacy career can help you determine which professional route to pursue. Below are some popular career goals for pharmacy, though remember that it's common to have multiple reasons for desiring advancement:

Increase your earning potential

While pharmacists make relatively high salaries, they can increase their earning potentials by advancing their careers. More money helps you pay off pharmacy school debt, live a more comfortable lifestyle and care for your family. If you want to increase your earning potential, try to find a job title that pays more than your current position. Researching average salaries in your area can help you understand your precise earning potential.

Vary your routine

A pharmacist may experience burnout by performing repetitive tasks in their pharmacy. The good news is that career advancement can help you vary your routine. For instance, pursuing a research position allows you to work in a different environment and perform new tasks. Pharmaceutical researchers spend lots of time conducting experiments and analyzing data in lab settings. Those who want more interaction with the public might consider a legal career related to the pharmaceutical industry.

Accept more responsibilities

A pharmacy career can provide personal satisfaction by allowing you to prepare prescriptions and educate patients. If you advance in your career, your new responsibilities may help you gain even more personal satisfaction. For instance, you might make important discoveries by pursuing a research position. Reporting side effects of medication and developing new treatments helps patients manage various conditions.

Related: 11 Best-Paying Jobs in the Pharmaceutical Industry

2. Determine your interests

It can be challenging to choose a route when there are so many opportunities to advance in your pharmacy career. To stay motivated on your journey to professional advancement, try determining your interests. You can pick a skill or field you're passionate about and consider how it relates to the pharmaceutical industry.

For instance, if you're naturally curious and attentive to the industry's latest news, you might consider a research position. These skills allow you to test hypotheses and share your findings with other researchers. A professional interested in the legal aspect of medications might become a patent attorney for a pharmaceutical company. If you're a natural leader, you might consider a managerial position.

3. Pursue additional credentials

After using your career goals and personal interests to determine your ideal position, you can pursue additional credentials. Consider starting by identifying the position's education requirements. For instance, if you want to become an executive for a pharmaceutical company, you may benefit from obtaining a master's degree in business administration or health care administration. Many professionals complete online programs that allow them to continue working full-time as they complete their education.

Aside from education, your desired position may have license and certification requirements. Try researching your state's requirements to determine when to pursue these credentials. For instance, passing the state and national patent bar exams is a requirement for an individual who wants to be a patent attorney for a pharmaceutical company. You would complete these requirements after graduating from law school.

4. Apply to advanced positions

Consider using your network to find available opportunities or asking your current supervisor for a recommendation. Your previous pharmacy experience and new credentials are often enough to help you qualify for advanced positions. If you want to build your resume even further, try to gain relevant work experience. You might request new responsibilities or take advantage of training opportunities in your new role. You could also apply for internships or complete volunteering opportunities in pharmacies, law firms or health care offices.

Related: 28 Pharmacy Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

What pharmacy careers are there?

Here are six pharmacy careers to consider pursuing:

1. Pharmacy consultant

National average salary: $101,085 per year

Primary duties: A pharmacy consultant is a professional advisor for nursing homes, hospices, rehabilitation centers and mental institutions. They help health care professionals and insurance providers determine appropriate prescriptions for patients. They may also regulate dosages, administer drug therapy and educate patients about their medications.

2. Pharmacologist

National average salary: $101,452 per year

Primary duties: A pharmacologist is a research professional who studies chemical compounds and develops new medications. They may test the effectiveness of medications by evaluating patients and recording side effects. Other responsibilities include writing research grants, standardizing dosages and publishing studies. They often work in labs and offices to conduct experiments and analyze research, though they may also meet with patients in clinical settings.

Related: Learn About Being a Pharmacologist

3. Biostatistician

National average salary: $114,046 per year

Primary duties: A biostatistician works in a research facility to collect and analyze public health data. Their findings allow them to make safety recommendations to policymakers and government agencies. For instance, they might use their skills to monitor a new disease and evaluate how patients respond to medication. These professionals are also responsible for collaborating with medical doctors and geneticists.

Related: Learn About Being a Biostatistician

4. Pharmacy manager

National average salary: $116,685 per year

Primary duties: A pharmacy manager oversees the daily operations of their store. They monitor employee performance and ensure staff members adhere to legal regulations. Pharmacy managers also verify payroll, control inventory and refill prescriptions. These professionals often work at independent pharmacies, though there are also positions within grocery stores and hospitals. Entrepreneurial pharmacists may seek to open their own pharmacies to have more control over the customer service experience.

5. Drugs manufacturer

National average salary: $123,664 per year

Primary duties: A drugs manufacturer oversees the industrial production of medications. They may design equipment or implement systems to ensure the efficiency of manufacturing teams and adherence to safety regulations. Drugs manufacturers also use their supply chain management skills to deliver final products to pharmacies. Some of these professionals are responsible for overseeing marketing campaigns and establishing relationships with clients.

6. Patent attorney

National average salary: $149,295 per year

Primary duties: A patent attorney is a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law. When working for pharmaceutical companies, these professionals ensure manufacturers retain the rights to their medications. Main responsibilities include familiarizing themselves with the science of various medications and filing patent applications. If their company encounters a copyright dispute with a medication, a patent attorney can provide representation in court.

Related: Learn About Being an Attorney

Skills to develop for advanced pharmacy careers

Here are some skills that can help you pursue an advanced pharmacy career:

  • Leadership: Leadership skills are particularly useful in managerial positions, as they allow you to guide staff members and enforce regulations. Pharmaceutical researchers can also use these skills to direct experiments and oversee publications.

  • Organization: By developing your organizational skills, you can create efficient employee schedules and ensure accurate inventories. Organizational skills also help you manage several projects simultaneously while maintaining a company's quality standards.

  • Communication: Advanced pharmacy careers often require communication with patients, employees and fellow management staff. You may be more likely to succeed if you can efficiently convey information and interpret others' ideas.

  • Attention to detail: Attention to detail is useful for maintaining accurate records, making observations during experiments and identifying client needs. Try developing this skill by prioritizing high-quality results while striving for efficiency.

  • Perseverance: Even though you've attended pharmacy school, your desired position may require additional credentials. Perseverance can help you stay motivated as you pursue career advancement.

  • Problem-solving skills: Problem-solving skills are important for identifying potential issues with medications and developing more efficient procedures for your staff. You may also use these skills when resolving disputes among employees.

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