How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Apothecary: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $119,270
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 3.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Flexible Hours
    Career Attribute

Apothecaries, like pharmacists, are responsible for preparing and dispensing prescription drugs. They need to know about ingredients in various medications in order to advice physicians and patients about using medication, and the possible side effects.

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What is an Apothecary?


The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in apothecary roles:

  • Prepare medications following physicians’ prescriptions, flagging possibly contradictory therapies
  • Dispense medication by compounding, packaging, and labeling medication.
  • Provide pharmacological information by responding to queries of health care professionals
  • Maintain records for controlled substances, remove expired stock, maintain registration, study and adapt to new and existing legislation.
  • Main clean, safe, and hygienic work environment.

A Day in The Life of An Apothecary

While apothecaries are not doctors, they are very important members of the medical fraternity. Apothecaries are responsible for preparing and dispensing medication by following the orders of physicians. They need to have significant, accurate, and very current knowledge of pharmacopoeia in order to advise doctors and patients about various drug therapies, and their benefits and potential side effects.

Apothecaries are also responsible for controlling medication, especially the dispensing of controlled substances. They need to be aware of state and federal drug laws, and be updated about any changes to them so that they are always in compliance with them. They need to ensure that they maintain accurate records about the dispensation of controlled substances. Apothecaries need to have computer skills to maintain electronic records if required by their organization.

Apothecaries might also need to administer vaccinations, oversee the work of technicians and interns, keep records, and teach other healthcare practitioners about proper therapies.

Typical Work Schedule for Apothecaries

Most apothecaries work full-time schedules during normal business hours although some do work part time. Night shifts and working on weekends may be required if apothecaries are open 24 hours.

Projected Job Growth for Apothecaries

Demand for apothecaries is projected to increase as people use more prescription drugs. Apothecaries will also be needed to handle patient care and testing. As the population ages, users of prescription drugs will increase, leading to a demand for apothecaries. Also, as the number of people with insurance increases, increasing the number of people able to access the medication they need, there will be an increased need for apothecaries.

Traditional retail employment might see a decline as online pharmacy sales increase, and as the number of certified apothecaries increases, competition for jobs will also increase. Students may wish to improve their prospects by gaining advanced qualifications.

Typical Employers

About half of all apothecaries are employed by pharmacies and drug stores. A few also work for general and surgical hospitals, and some also work in grocery or department stores. Apothecaries often also own their own stores. They thus need to have sound business management skills as well as pharmacological skills to manage their store, staff, and inventory.


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How To Become an Apothecary

The first step to becoming an apothecary is to earn a degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies apothecaries as pharmacists. A science-related degree can be very helpful when preparing to enter a pharmacy school.

To enter a pharmacy school, you will need to pass an admission test, the Pharmacy College Admission Test. You will need to earn a Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) at an accredited pharmacy school.

A Pharm.D program lasts for four years and teaches students about the various aspects of pharmacology. Students also get the chance to intern with pharmacists, thus gaining essential on-the-job training and experience. A Pharm.D program also teaches students skills like communication, management, ethics, and business acumen.

You may need to complete a residency or fellowship for a couple of years if you intend to specialize in specific areas. Besides all this, apothecaries also need to be licensed by passing the North American Licensure Exam. Apothecaries must be certified before they can administer vaccines.

Apothecaries who intend to specialize in certain areas may also earn certificates to demonstrate their knowledge in that field. Various boards offer certification, such as the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.

Apothecaries will also need to periodically demonstrate their knowledge of and compliance with state and federal drug laws. Additionally, some states may require apothecaries to pass further tests before they can practice.


Apothecary Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Apothecary salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Apothecary's can make an average annual salary of $119,270, or $57 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $107,810 or $52 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #30 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Apothecary. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Apothecarys

  • 54.8%   Doctorate
  • 6.1%   Masters
  • 36.6%   Bachelors
  • 0.9%   Associates
  • 1.4%   College
  • 0.1%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Apothecary job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 9,100 jobs for a total of 306,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 3.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #518 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Apothecarys

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Pharmacies and drug stores 125,800 -6,800 -7%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 55,800 4,000 4%
Grocery stores 23,300 1,100 1%

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