Pharmacologist vs Pharmacist Career Differences

Are you considering a career as a pharmacist? Or have you developed an interest in pharmacology, and what is the difference? Some careers can be in the same field and be quite similar, whereas some are very different.

When it comes to choosing a career that requires schooling, it’s always a good idea to get as much information as possible so you can ensure that you are on the right track, and that you don’t waste any time. Of course, it’s always a possibility to switch careers and educational paths any time, but if you are looking to get into a career as quickly as possible, you want to be sure you are making the right educational choices.

When it comes to a career in the pharmaceutical field, it’s a good idea to get a strong sense of where you are going before diving in to your education. This is because the education requirements are fairly extensive and time-consuming. It’s important to be sure you are focusing your efforts in the right place.

When it comes to being a pharmacist vs. a pharmacologist, there are significant differences, let’s look at them now.

What Is A Pharmacist?

If you’ve ever been sick and needed to pick up a prescription, you’ve dealt with a pharmacist. A pharmacist generally works in either an independent pharmacy, a hospital or clinic pharmacy or a chain pharmacy found in national drug stores. A pharmacist works in conjunction with various pharmacy technicians and assistants to meet the needs of customers and patients that come to them for medication and medication advice.

Duties of a pharmacist typically include dispensing prescriptions for patients and ensuring prescription safety. This is a big part of the job. The pharmacist has a responsibility to patients and customers to ensure they are not getting the wrong medication, or medication that could result in dangerous  drug interactions, and that one drug does not interfere with the efficacy of the other.

Pharmacists are also there to educate patients and customers, and to be sure they understand the drugs that have been prescribed to them. This includes informing them of possible side effects, how often to take them and what to do if they miss a dose. The pharmacist has a great deal of responsibility, and works directly with patients and customers.

What Is The Education Level of a Pharmacist?

A pharmacist must complete a bachelor’s degree followed by a doctorate degree in pharmacology. In addition, sometimes they must complete an additional one or two year residency.

How Much Does A Pharmacist Earn?

The pharmacist enjoys a stable job with high earnings. Most pharmacists earn over $100,000 per year, although in some cases they earn a bit less. Much will depend on location and position. For example, a drug store pharmacist in the midwest will likely earn less than a seasoned pharmacist working in a hospital in a big city such as San Francisco or Seattle.

What Does A Pharmacologist Do?

There are big differences between the pharmacist and the pharmacologist. A pharmacologist does not work in a pharmacy, instead they work in laboratories. They are essentially scientists who work to help companies make drugs safer, help develop more drugs and help to test new drugs to ensure they are safe. They may work to determine what the safest dose of a new drug is, or they may work to find what types of drug interactions may occur when two or more drugs are taken together.

As you can see, a pharmacologist is not nearly the same as a pharmacist. The pharmacologist works in a far more research-heavy environment. You will not generally work directly with patients or customers, you will often report to the head of the lab, and will probably work as part of a larger team.

Educational Requirements for a Pharmacologist

You will need a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate degree in pharmacology. You’ll want to have a solid educational background in toxicology, chemistry and biology. For those looking into this as a career, you’ll need a love of research as that is a big part of the job.

How Much Does A Pharmacologist Earn?

The average salary of a pharmacologist hovers at just around $100,000, although some will make less than that to start. You will likely need to find work in a location that has laboratories and companies who are doing pharmaceutical research, so career opportunities may be limited in your area depending on where you live.

Which do you choose? This is likely not a tough decision, as these are drastically different jobs. For many people, the idea of being a pharmacist is more appealing. There is a stronger focus on caring for others, and more interaction with patients and customers. There are plenty of opportunities to move ahead and the salary, though similar, is still higher, and can climb to over $150,000.

The educational requirements are similar, however you may wish to put a larger focus on research and science if you are looking into a career as a pharmacologist.

Job stability may favor the pharmacist, however the field as a whole is always growing, especially as the demand for new medications is constantly growing.

How Do You Choose?

The best way to determine your direction is to further research each job and what it takes to achieve it. You’ll want to look into quality of life, pay and benefits, and how easily you’ll be able to find work in your location of choice. You may wish to consider finding a person who is already working in the field and talk to them about what they do. What do they like about it, and what don’t they like about it. Then, discuss your education options with a professional, and find out what the best education track is for you. You’ll need to start off with a bachelors degree either way, so start there.

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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