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Published: Jun 13, 2023 12 min read
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Pharmacists provide invaluable services to the public and other health care professionals by having an extensive knowledge of medications. If you’re trying to hire a pharmacist, you’ll need to understand the education and skill requirements. You'll also need to know how to promote your job opening effectively, whether that’s by word of mouth or using a job search site like ZipRecruiter, which can post on over 100 boards with one click.

Read our complete guide below to learn how to hire a pharmacist, write a pharmacist job description and choose the best candidate for your business.

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What is a pharmacist?

A pharmacist is a health care professional that has an extensive knowledge of medications. They know the proper way to use, store and provide medicine and are responsible for filling prescriptions written by doctors and other health care workers.

What do pharmacists do?

Pharmacists' primary role is to fill prescriptions. However, they may also give advice to the public and doctors about which medications to take, proper dosages and side effects. Pharmacists also provide information about how a medication might interact with existing medications or other medical conditions. In addition, pharmacists may also educate people on how to use medical equipment or over-the-counter health supplies.

Some pharmacists may also be involved in researching new drugs and compounding ingredients to make medications, but modern medications are mostly manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. These companies send the medications to pharmacies, and pharmacists measure out dosages to distribute to patients.

How to hire a pharmacist

Hiring a pharmacist requires a deep understanding of pharmacist job requirements and the hiring process in general. Keep reading to learn how to find great candidates and hire a qualified pharmacist.

Choose which type of worker you need: full-time, part-time or locum pharmacist

The type of pharmacist you hire will depend entirely on your company’s needs. A part-time employee will generally work less than 30 hours per week, while a full-time employee will work around 40 hours per week. There are plenty of pros and cons to hiring each — being aware of these differences will help you understand how to retain employees.

Part-time pharmacists will cost less as they work fewer hours and don’t require benefits. In addition, they can be helpful if you need to fluctuate your weekly schedule, compensate for employee shortages or cross-train your employees to perform varying duties. However, the inconsistency and shorter hours of a part-time schedule may reduce efficiency. There’s also the chance that your part-time pharmacists will have other jobs competing for their time.

Full-time pharmacists will have more consistent schedules, which can improve employee motivation and give them more time to gain experience. While providing benefits can be expensive, some organizations will offer group discounts for more full-time employees. However, full-time pharmacists may face burnout or work-related stress due to working more frequently, which you will need to manage carefully.

Employers can use ZipRecruiter to post part-time jobs and full-time jobs they are seeking candidates for, gaining access to over 3 million job seekers.

Another option is to work with a staffing agency to hire a locum pharmacist. Locum pharmacists can help cover seasonal increases or fill temporary positions until you can find a permanent employee. Staffing agencies can work with you to build a job description and create job listings, screen candidates and conduct interviews and then choose a candidate.

Know the educational, licensing and certification requirements for pharmacists

Pharmacist education requirements include completing pharmacy school and being licensed in your state. Those trying to become a pharmacist must first complete a four-year degree, most often in biology or chemistry. Then they can take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) to apply to a pharmacy school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

After completing the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program, the candidate must complete an internship or residency program to complete a certain number of hours required to become licensed. Depending on your state, the candidate will need to complete two licensing exams and meet the other pharmacist requirements outlined by the state.

Get clear on the skills and level of experience your ideal candidate will have

When evaluating pharmacist resumes, consider looking for candidates with the following skills and experience:

  • Providing patient care, such as counseling and general medication advice, recommending medications and evaluating drug regimens for potential side effects and interactions
  • Customer service, such as filling prescriptions and counseling in a retail drugstore
  • Employee development, such as leading training or making recommendations for educational opportunities
  • Pharmacy services, such as assisting in multiple pharmacies as needed or establishing pharmacy services in health care facilities
  • Inventory management, such as organizing inventory management systems and ordering medications as needed
  • Pharmacy operations, such as budgeting, maintaining records and implementing general policies and procedures
  • Knowledge of additional medical topics, such as drug therapies, allergies or IVs

Write a pharmacist job description on a job posting site or your company’s career page

A job description should include all the necessary information to determine whether a candidate might be a good fit for the job. Start by including a short job summary and a bulleted list of their daily activities and responsibilities. You should also list the education and skills requirements that candidates must meet to qualify for the position. Round out your job description with some general information about your business to tell applicants about your company culture, values and goals. If you want some help, ZipRecruiter has a useful pharmacist job description template to use.

Posting your job description on job boards can help reach a wide audience. Many of the best job posting sites for employers make it easy to receive applications and screen candidates based on their skills and other factors using an applicant tracking system (ATS). If you follow the best practices for using an ATS, it can be an excellent tool for collecting and organizing candidates' information throughout the pharmacist hiring process.

Your company’s career page is also an excellent way to spread the word about your pharmacist job opening. When a candidate visits your company career page, they should be able to view what roles you're looking for, learn about the benefits and perks that come with the pharmacist position and see how they can expect to develop and grow in their career. Learn more about how to create a better career page to attract the best pharmacists for you.

Interview the most qualified candidates

Once you’ve identified some candidates that you think might be a good fit, you can conduct interviews. Your interview should consist of behavioral interview questions and an evaluation of the applicant’s hard and soft skills. Use the following pharmacist interview questions for inspiration:

  • How would you instruct a patient that was prescribed (insert class name) class of medication? This question lets you evaluate the candidate’s knowledge about the class of medication and how well they can translate the information so the general public can understand it.
  • Describe a time you were involved in an ethical dilemma and how you handled it. This prompt allows you to determine whether the candidate upholds ethical standards and how they can navigate difficult situations.
  • Tell me about some of your work values. This question can be used to see how well the candidate’s values align with the company’s. You can also gauge how important patient care is in their eyes.
  • What has been your experience with pharmacy management software? — This question directly evaluates the candidate’s technological knowledge and how well they know how to manage prescriptions or patient and inventory records.
  • Describe your management style. This prompt shows how well the candidate supports other employees and collaborates in a team setting. You can also determine if they have previous experience with leadership roles.

Select and onboard your new hire

Selecting your new pharmacist is an exciting step to bring the hiring process to a close. A combination of skills and education, cultural fit and recruiter instinct goes into choosing the best candidate. Consider the applicants’ past experiences and ability to fit into the company. Will the company and team benefit from having this person around? Do they have the skills necessary to meet your needs? Are they committed to making your business a better place to work and shop?

When you have someone in mind, you can move forward with onboarding them and getting them situated in your company. Use the best background check sites to learn more about them. After they've accepted your offer and filled out all necessary onboarding paperwork, you can begin training and officially close out your recruiting journey.

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Common types of pharmacists to hire

Pharmacist employment opportunities include some of the following roles:

  • Community pharmacist — Community pharmacists work in a retail store or drug store to distribute medications, provide information to the public and offer health services such as flu vaccines.
  • Hospital pharmacist — Hospital pharmacists work in a hospital to provide more direct care and recommend and oversee medications with other members of your health care team.
  • Clinical pharmacist — Similar to hospital pharmacists, clinical pharmacists work in a health clinic or other health care setting to provide more direct patient care and support your team.
  • Compounding pharmacist — Compounding pharmacists work in a specialized type of pharmacy that creates custom medications, such as capsules, liquids, drops or suppositories, for people with specific medical needs.
  • Industry pharmacist — Industry pharmacists work in the pharmaceutical industry to sell and market medications as well as conduct research to design and run clinical trials, develop new medications and improve quality control.
  • Consultant pharmacist — Consultant pharmacists work with health care companies, pharmacies and insurance providers to improve proper medication usage and pharmacy services.

Other types of pharmacists include pharmacist assistants, pharmacist technicians, registered pharmacists and staff pharmacists.

Pharmacist FAQ

What is the cost of hiring a pharmacist?

The cost of hiring a pharmacist will vary widely based on your recruitment process, location and the type of pharmacist you want to hire. In addition to the pharmacist's average salary, you should also consider your recruitment costs, including what you spend on marketing or recruiting software solutions. Additionally, take into account any employee benefits and perks or training and ongoing education that you'll offer.

How much do pharmacists make?

According to a top job posting site, the average pharmacist salary in the United States is $116,109 per year. The majority of pharmacists are paid between $104,000 and $126,500 annually.

Where do pharmacists work?

There is a wide variety of possible places of employment for a pharmacist. Most pharmacists' places of employment include retail stores, drug stores and grocery stores. However, some pharmacists also work in hospitals and other health care settings, universities and research or government facilities. New opportunities have also arisen in recent years to make remote and travel pharmacist jobs available.

Can pharmacists prescribe medication?

Some pharmacists can prescribe medication, but it depends on state requirements. For example, in 2022, the FDA authorized all pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to treat COVID-19 as long as they meet certain conditions. Many states also allow pharmacists to prescribe some medications, such as birth control, tobacco cessation medications and HIV preventatives. In addition, some states allow pharmacists to prescribe any medication, but they may require that the pharmacist earn an additional license.

Are pharmacists doctors?

Pharmacists are doctors, but they are not physicians. Pharmacist schooling awards a PharmD, which is a doctorate of pharmacy.

Summary: How to hire pharmacists

Pharmacists can provide services related to medication distribution and educate others about various medications. While there are many different types of pharmacists, most must acquire a PharmD degree and become licensed in the state to work as a pharmacist.

There are a number of considerations to make as an employer looking to hire a pharmacist. During the recruiting process, in addition to a candidate's education, look for other skills such as customer service and patient care, inventory management, pharmacy services and more.

You can choose many different recruitment strategies, including utilizing job posting sites or updating your company career page to attract talent. Get started by researching the best recruiting software that can help you organize applications, interviews and onboarding.