Several different paths exist for those hoping to become pharmacy managers. It is possible to become a pharmacy manager without necessarily becoming a pharmacist, but some pharmacists do take over the management of pharmacies. Significant competition from well-qualified pharmacists and better than average pay within the industry means that those without a pharmacy background should gain one if possible to provide themselves with the necessary background and qualifications needed to manage a pharmacy.
Obtain a bachelor's degree in pharmacy studies or a related area like premedical studies to ensure entry into a professional degree program in pharmacy or a graduate degree program related to the field of pharmaceutical sciences. Another possible route for becoming a pharmacy manager is to obtain a background in business and pursue advanced degrees in business or health administration.
Pursue a graduate or professional degree in the pathway that you choose during your undergraduate education. Bachelor's degrees in these different fields take about four years to complete, giving you plenty of time to decide which path you want to take. Some major retail pharmacy chains only require a bachelor's degree in the pharmacy field to assume management positions, but many still prefer candidates with a graduate level education. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree will take about four years to complete, while most master's degree programs in business administration or health administration take about two years.
Obtain a pharmacy license in the state in which you plan to work as a pharmacy manager. Most states require that you have the Doctor of Pharmacy degree, so if you plan on going the business degree route, ensure that that the degree will qualify you for a pharmacy license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require the doctorate degree and a series of examinations testing the applicant on pharmacy knowledge and skills as well as the laws governing the pharmaceutical industry.
Gain experience by working as a pharmacist. The number of years of required experience will vary by employer. Some employers will accept applicants with as little as one year of experience, while others will require four or five years of experience. In some cases, prior management experience may be required also. It may be necessary to work as a pharmacy manager in a smaller privately owned pharmacy before applying for positions with hospitals and retail pharmacy chains.
2016 Salary Information for Pharmacists
Pharmacists earned a median annual salary of $122,230 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, pharmacists earned a 25th percentile salary of $109,400, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $138,920, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 312,500 people were employed in the U.S. as pharmacists.