Career Development

What Does a Retail Pharmacist Do?

Find out what a retail pharmacist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a retail pharmacist.

Retail pharmacists are the frontline healthcare professionals in your local pharmacy. They’re responsible for helping customers with their medication questions and concerns, as well as providing advice on which medications may be best suited to treat certain conditions or symptoms.

Retail pharmacists also play an important role in ensuring that medications are safe and effective. They commonly perform quality control checks on medications before they’re sold to ensure that they meet safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Retail Pharmacist Job Duties

Retail pharmacists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Monitoring patient adherence to medications and providing counsel on how to take medications properly
  • Providing information on disease prevention and treatment, drug interactions, and possible side effects of medications
  • Counseling patients about the use of prescription drugs such as antibiotics or pain relievers
  • Providing information about medication use and abuse to patients, families, and other health care providers
  • Meeting with patients one on one or in groups to discuss medications and disease states
  • Administering medications such as injections, inhalers, creams, ointments, and pills
  • Preparing and maintaining drug inventories, ordering supplies, reviewing drug records, and preparing labels for prescriptions
  • Educating patients on the proper use of over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers or allergy medications
  • Explaining the purpose of prescription medications to patients and monitoring their use of the medications

Retail Pharmacist Salary & Outlook

Retail pharmacists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $125,000 ($60.1/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $152,000 ($73.08/hour)

The employment of retail pharmacists is expected to decline over the next decade.

The growth in the use of mail-order pharmacies and pharmacy chains has reduced the need for retail pharmacists. Pharmacy chains and mail-order pharmacies can offer many services that were previously provided by retail pharmacists, such as filling prescriptions, reviewing new drug information, and providing patient counseling.

Related: Retail Pharmacist Interview Questions and Answers

Retail Pharmacist Job Requirements

A retail pharmacist typically needs to have the following:

Education: Most employers require retail pharmacists to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. Pharm.D. programs take about three years to complete and include coursework in pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, psychology and law.

Training & Experience: Most retail pharmacies require new pharmacists to complete a training program before they begin working on their own. These programs typically last between six and 12 weeks and teach new pharmacists how to interact with customers, how to stock shelves and how to use the computer systems.

Certifications & Licenses: All pharmacists must earn the Pharm.D. degree to work in the field. After graduating from a Pharm.D. program, prospective pharmacists must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensing Exam (NAPLEX). If a prospective pharmacist has a bachelor’s degree but not a master’s, they can take the Comprehensive Pharmacy Licensing Exam (CPLEx) to become licensed to work as a pharmacist.

Retail Pharmacist Skills

Retail pharmacists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the ability to convey information to others. As a retail pharmacist, you may need to communicate with customers about their medication and treatment options. You may also need to communicate with other pharmacy staff members about prescription orders and other patient information.

Customer service: Customer service skills can help you develop a positive relationship with your customers. You can use these skills to help customers understand their medication and answer any questions they have about it. You can also use these skills to help customers find the right medication for their needs and answer any questions they have about the medication.

Medical knowledge: Medical knowledge is the ability to understand the effects of various medications and treatments. This can help you provide the right advice to customers and answer their questions. Medical knowledge can also help you identify potential health risks and offer preventative care.

Organization: Retail pharmacists often work in fast-paced environments and may need to prioritize tasks and organize their work space accordingly. Organization skills can help you manage your workload and ensure you meet all of your store’s customer service and sales goals.

Technological skills: Pharmacists use computers and other technology to enter patient information, track inventory and complete other tasks. Having strong technological skills can help you learn new software and adapt to changing technology.

Retail Pharmacist Work Environment

Retail pharmacists work in a variety of settings, including chain drugstores, supermarkets, and mass merchandisers. They also work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Most retail pharmacists work full time, and many work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Some pharmacists work in settings that require them to be on their feet for long periods of time. Retail pharmacists typically work in well-lit, clean, and organized pharmacies. They may be required to lift heavy boxes of drugs and stand for long periods of time.

Retail Pharmacist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how retail pharmacists work. Retail pharmacists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Technology in Healthcare

The use of technology in healthcare is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows patients to receive care from a distance. This trend is having a significant impact on the retail pharmacy industry, as pharmacists are now being asked to provide more services online.

As pharmacists become more involved in the use of technology in healthcare, they will need to learn how to use new tools and software to provide care to patients across the country. This includes learning how to use telemedicine platforms, electronic health records, and social media.

Pharmacy Chains Will Consolidate

Pharmacy chains are consolidating at an unprecedented rate, which is creating opportunities for retail pharmacists who are willing to move to new locations.

As pharmacy chains merge, there will be a greater demand for pharmacists who are able to work in multiple locations. This will allow pharmacies to maintain consistent staffing levels while also reducing costs. In order to take advantage of this trend, retail pharmacists should be prepared to relocate to new cities or states.

More Focus on Patient Care

As pharmacists play a larger role in patient care, they will need to focus on providing better customer service.

This means that pharmacists will need to be able to communicate effectively with patients and understand their needs. They will also need to be able to manage time efficiently so that they can provide the best possible care to all of their customers.

How to Become a Retail Pharmacist

A career as a retail pharmacist can be both rewarding and lucrative. It’s important to consider all the factors that will influence your decision, including the type of pharmacy you want to work for, the hours you are willing to work, and the location of the pharmacy.

You should also think about what kind of patient care experience you want. Do you want to focus on providing medication counseling or do you want to specialize in another area of pharmacy practice? There are many different paths you can take within pharmacy, so it’s important to find one that suits your interests and goals.

Advancement Prospects

Retail pharmacists typically start out working in small, independent pharmacies. As they gain experience, they may move up to larger chain pharmacies or hospitals. Some pharmacists eventually open their own pharmacies.

Pharmacists with advanced degrees may move into teaching, research, or hospital administration. Some pharmacists become involved in sales or marketing for pharmaceutical companies. Others work for the government, in areas such as the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Retail Pharmacist Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are committed to providing our customers with the highest level of service possible. We are looking for a Retail Pharmacist to join our team and help us provide excellent patient care. The ideal candidate will have a PharmD or RPh degree, as well as a valid state pharmacy license. He or she will be responsible for filling prescriptions, providing customer service, and performing clinical duties such as immunizations and medication therapy management. The Retail Pharmacist will also be responsible for maintaining inventory and ordering supplies.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • To fill prescriptions and provide information to patients about their medications, including side effects, proper usage, and storage
  • To counsel patients on the use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and make recommendations for non-prescription medicines
  • To collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to plan, monitor, review, and adjust medication regimens
  • To maintain up-to-date knowledge of new drugs and their indications, dosages, interactions, and contraindications
  • To participate in continuing education opportunities to keep abreast of new developments in the field of pharmacy
  • To perform drug utilization reviews and intervene when necessary to optimize patient care
  • To manage inventory levels and place orders for drugs and supplies as needed
  • To oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and support staff, providing guidance and training as needed
  • To ensure that all activities in the pharmacy comply with state and federal regulations
  • To prepare sterile compounded medications as needed
  • To provide immunizations and other vaccinations according to state law
  • To participate in quality assurance initiatives to improve patient care

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or related field
  • State licensure as a pharmacist
  • 2+ years experience working in a retail pharmacy setting
  • Strong customer service skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time and lift 50 pounds

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • 4+ years experience working in a retail pharmacy setting
  • Experience with inventory management
  • Experience with electronic medical records
  • Working knowledge of state and federal regulations governing the practice of pharmacy


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