23 Alternative Careers for Pharmacists

Updated March 10, 2023

If you have a degree in pharmacology, you can explore many careers outside of becoming a pharmacist. While a career as a pharmacist can provide you with many benefits, other careers in this field allow you to use your degree in various ways. Knowing your career options and what these jobs entail can help you make a more strategic career decision. In this article, we define the role of a pharmacist, list 23 alternative career for pharmacists and provide you with tips for a career in pharmacology.

Related: 16 Pharmacy Career Options You Can Pursue

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What is a pharmacist?

A pharmacist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the preparation and dispensing of prescription medications. Pharmacists counsel patients on their medications, communicate with prescribers and insurance companies, manage a pharmacy staff and ensure patient safety. They also ensure patients receive the right medication and the right dosage.

Related: Learn About Being a Pharmacist

Alternative jobs for pharmacists

Many jobs in pharmacology involve a variety of duties and a lucrative salary. Knowing the daily duties of these jobs can help you determine whether you want to pursue them. Here are 12 jobs where pharmacists can apply their skills:

1. Pharmaceutical research technician

National average salary: $40,248 per year

Primary duties: Pharmaceutical research technicians assist doctors, veterinarians or scientists with the research and development of new or existing medications. They often supervise experiments, document laboratory results, maintain records and test for different compounds. Pharmaceutical research technicians also ensure a clean lab environment.

2. Laboratory technician

National average salary: $49,793 per year

Primary duties: A laboratory technician is a person who performs various procedures in a laboratory setting. They maintain equipment, ensure a clean workspace and help lead scientists with different experiments. Laboratory technicians also analyze samples and conduct laboratory testing based on standard procedures.

Related: Learn About Being a Lab Technician

3. Medical science liaison

National average salary: $66,167 per year

Primary duties: Medical science liaisons act as scientific peers in the medical community. They ensure a product gets used properly and provide scientific expertise to their colleagues. Medical science liaisons also maintain communication and relationships with academic researchers, attend conferences and engage in discussions on drug therapies and diseases.

4. Clinical research coordinator

National average salary: $68,881 per year

Primary duties: Clinical research coordinators administer clinical trials under the supervision of a clinical research manager. They manage and conduct clinical trials, gather data, let participants know about a study's objective and administer questionnaires.

Related: Learn How To Become a Clinical Research Coordinator

5. Medical writer

National average salary: $70,844 per year

Primary duties: A medical writer creates scientific papers such as research- or drug-related documents and literature or content for medical or healthcare websites. They write and edit their medical writing deliverables and work alongside scientists or doctors.

6. Pharmaceutical sales representative

National average salary: $75,327 per year

Primary duties: Pharmaceutical sales representatives sell their company's pharmaceutical products. They educate medical professionals on these products and on how these drugs, devices and treatments can meet their patients' needs. Pharmaceutical sales representatives also help medical professionals see how their products differ from that of their competitors.

7. Medical representative

National average salary: $77,813 per year

Primary duties: Medical representatives sell their company's various products including its pharmaceutical drugs or medical equipment. They travel to different locations and contact potential customers at healthcare facilities like hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. Medical representatives often arrange appointments with hospital medical teams to share their company's products.

8. Clinical research associate

National average salary: $97,140 per year

Primary duties: A clinical research associate manages clinical trials and studies related to pharmaceutical and biotechnological products, drugs and procedures. They perform research to ensure the safety of these products on the market.

9. Research scientist

National average salary: $107,617 per year

Primary duties: Research scientists design and analyze information in laboratory investigations, trials and experiments. They plan and conduct experiments, write grant proposals, complete funding applications and work alongside team members and support staff.

10. Regulatory affairs manager

National average salary: $107,783 per year

Primary duties: Regulatory affairs managers ensure companies remain compliant with rules and regulations set by different regulatory agencies. They oversee the regulation process, create procedures to verify compliance and coordinate company inspections.

11. Clinical research scientist

National average salary: $112,564 per year

Primary duties: Clinical research scientists perform medical research in a laboratory setting. They spend most of their time researching and investigating various diseases to identify health conditions. They use their findings to help physicians provide patients with accurate diagnoses. Clinical research scientists also ensure the safety and effectiveness of medications, treatments, procedures and devices and design trial materials.

12. Pharmacologist

National average salary: $118,271 per year

Primary duties: Pharmacologists study and test new medications and chemical compounds for the development of drug therapies and the prevention of harmful drug interactions. They evaluate potential side effects of different drugs, conduct experiments, interpret data and manage laboratory and staff members.

Related: Learn About Being a Pharmacologist

Additional careers

Here are 11 more jobs where you can apply your pharmacology skills:

  1. Science writer

  2. Toxicologist

  3. Regulatory affairs officer

  4. Product development scientist

  5. Process development scientist

  6. Veterinary pharmacist

  7. Higher education lecturer

  8. Medicinal chemist

  9. Biomedical scientist

  10. Neuroscientist

  11. Medical sales executive

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Tips for a career in pharmacology

Use these tips to help you get a career in pharmacology or advance in this field:

  • Attend conferences. Go to a pharmacology conference to learn new things and meet new people in your field. You can also use these conferences to learn more about other opportunities in the pharmacology field.

  • Network with industry professionals. Socialize with pharmacists in your area. This gives you an opportunity to chat about your experiences and to learn more about the industry in general.

  • Take a class. Even if you already have your degree, consider enrolling in continuing education classes. Taking these classes can help you learn more about your field and help re-ignite your interest in pharmacology.

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