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Pharmacy Manager Career Guide

What is a pharmacy manager?

A pharmacy manager is a professional who coordinates and oversees the daily operations of a pharmacy. This individual is usually a licensed pharmacist with significant experience in the pharmaceutical field, as its role requires a deep understanding of medication, customer service, and regulatory compliance. As leaders within their respective pharmacies, they inherently shape the quality of care provided to the customers and ensure the pharmacy operates efficiently and effectively.

These professionals simultaneously juggle multiple roles. While they contribute greatly to patient healthcare by providing medicine-related advice, they also have a say in business operations, including the pharmacy’s strategic planning and financial management. In this way, they not only ensure optimal patient outcomes but also contribute toward the pharmacy’s overall success and profitability.

Duties and responsibilities

A pharmacy manager’s duties and responsibilities encompass patient care and administrative tasks. They are responsible for overseeing the distribution of medicine to ensure that prescriptions are accurately filled and handed to customers efficiently and on time. They also oversee the activities of other pharmacy staff, such as pharmacy technicians, and provide them with guidance when necessary.

From a more administrative perspective, professionals in this role manage the pharmacy’s inventory, keeping track of stock levels and ordering new stock as necessary. They also must adhere to various regulations and standards, meaning they need to be aware of any changes in legislation and implement these changes. Additionally, they may assist in budgeting, pricing, and the financial management of the pharmacy.

Work environment

A pharmacy manager typically works in a pharmacy located within a drugstore, grocery store, hospital, or standalone establishment. They work in clean and organized environments designed to maintain the integrity of medicines and other pharmaceutical products. Since they often interact directly with customers, they also work in areas where privacy and confidentiality can be maintained, such as private consultation rooms.

Typical work hours

The work hours of a pharmacy manager can vary greatly depending on the type and location of the pharmacy. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours, requiring shifts at all hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. However, in many cases, these professionals work standard business hours, such as a 9 am to 5 pm schedule. It is important to note that they can be called upon during off-hours for emergencies or urgent matters related to the pharmacy’s operations.

How to become a pharmacy manager

This career guide section outlines the process of becoming a pharmacy manager. We will explore this career path’s key strategies and requirements, including educational accomplishments, training, licensures, and essential work experience.

Step 1: Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent

The first step is completing high school education or its equivalent. This will provide a fundamental knowledge base upon which further education and training in the pharmacy field will build.

Step 2: Earn a bachelor’s degree

While not always a requirement, a bachelor’s degree can be beneficial in fields relevant to pharmacy, such as chemistry or biology. This formal education can provide foundational knowledge for your future studies in pharmacy school.

Step 3: Complete a Doctor of Pharmacy program

This is a critical step in becoming a pharmacy manager. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree is the standard for pharmacists in the United States. These programs typically take four years to complete and cover topics like medicinal chemistry, patient care, and pharmacy law.

Step 4: Complete a state-approved internship

An internship is a hands-on experience where you can apply the knowledge you’ve gained in your schooling. Most states require an internship completion as part of the licensure process.

Step 5: Pass the NAPLEX and MPJE

All pharmacists must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) to practice. In addition, most states require the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), a test of pharmacy law. These exams confirm that you have the required knowledge to practice pharmacy.

Step 6: Obtain state licensure

After passing the exams, you can apply for a pharmacist license in your state. The requirements for licensure often vary by state, so it’s important to verify the specific requirements in your location.

Step 7: Gain work experience as a pharmacist

Gaining several years of experience working as a pharmacist is crucial. It not only develops your skills but also allows you to understand the operations of a pharmacy better. This step is necessary before advancing into a management position.

Step 8: Pursue a management position

After you’ve gained ample experience, you may start to consider a move into management. Pharmacy managers are typically promoted from within, so it’s a good idea to express your interest in management to your superiors.

Step 9: Continue professional development

Even after securing a management position, it’s important to keep improving. Whether through additional certifications, industry seminars, or continuing education, continual professional development can aid your long-term career advancement.

How much do pharmacy managers make?

Pharmacy manager salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Factors such as the volume of the pharmacy, the complexity of the medications managed, and whether the pharmacy is part of a larger health system can significantly impact compensation.

Highest paying industries

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals – $145,500
  • Outpatient Care Centers – $142,700
  • Health and Personal Care Stores – $140,350
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises – $138,750
  • Scientific Research and Development Services – $135,120

Highest paying states

  • California – $155,180
  • Texas – $150,890
  • New York – $148,400
  • Massachusetts – $145,500
  • New Jersey – $143,330

Browse pharmacy manager salary data by market

Types of pharmacy managers

Below, we explore common career types and areas of specialization for pharmacy managers. This section is designed to highlight the varied pathways possible within this profession.

Hospital pharmacy manager

This role primarily exists in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics. These professionals have the responsibility of overseeing the operations of the hospital pharmacy. Their daily activities include administering medications, managing the stock of pharmaceutical supplies, and ensuring compliance with regulations. They also need to work closely with medical professionals, ensuring the right medicines are available for patient care.

Retail pharmacy manager

These individuals are found in retail settings like drug stores or supermarkets with pharmacy services. As well as handling administrative duties, their tasks often include advising customers on their medications. A role in retail offers more customer interfacing opportunities, making excellent customer service skills pivotal.

Clinical pharmacy manager

These professionals usually operate within hospital settings but with more involvement in clinical trials and research. They may also be responsible for educating healthcare staff regarding new drug therapies. Contribution to the development of drug-related policies and guidelines are important aspects of this specialty.

Supply chain pharmacy manager

A more logistical and operational-focused aspect of the pharmacy industry is managed by professionals excelling in this specialization. Here, the primary job is to supervise the entire pharmaceutical supply chain, ensuring an efficient process for the timely delivery of drugs and medications from the supplier to the organization.

Managed care pharmacy manager

In roles like these, managers work for entities such as health insurance or pharmacy benefit management companies. They often develop and manage medication-related programs. Also, they might be asked to evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of different medication therapies offered to members or patients.

Pharmaceutical regulation and policy manager

This job usually exists within governmental or regulatory bodies. Individuals responsible for making or revising pharmacy-related regulations and policies usually occupy this position. Essential roles include considering the wider public health impact, ensuring safety, and fair access to pharmaceutical services. This job typically involves a lot of research, policy analysis, and stakeholder consultation.

Top skills for pharmacy managers

This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as a pharmacy manager.

Understanding of pharmaceutical operations

A successful professional in this field will have in-depth knowledge of pharmacology, including understanding the chemical and physical properties of drugs, the drug development process, common drugs for various conditions, and drug interactions. They also need to be able to use this information in practice, for inventory management, and in advising customers about prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.

Strong leadership skills

Leading a team of pharmacists effectively requires excellent leadership skills. The ability to delegate tasks, harmonize team efforts, solve conflicts, and motivate team members will contribute to their success in this role. A good leader also knows how to cultivate a positive and productive work environment, ultimately improving customer service and operational efficiency.

Quality customer service

Having excellent customer service skills is also important as these professionals often consult with customers and provide information on their medications. This skill will create positive experiences for customers, build trust and a strong reputation for your pharmacy, and encourage loyal patronage.

Eye for detail

Meticulousness and an eye for detail are vital attributes of a pharmacy manager. The role typically involves handling and dispensing medications, where errors can have severe consequences. Paying close attention to details ensures correct and safe dispensation of medications and promotes accurate record-keeping and financial management.

Solid financial skills

Financial management is a primary duty. It involves setting budgets, tracking expenditures, overseeing pricing strategies, and conducting financial audits. A solid understanding of financial principles and a knack for numbers is beneficial for this aspect of the job.

Pharmacy manager career path

This position allows professionals to further expand their reach and influence in the healthcare industry through various potential career progression opportunities.

After gaining experience and expertise as a pharmacy manager, different avenues open up for career advancement. One such path is the progression toward a regional pharmacy manager role. This role requires managing multiple pharmacy locations, which requires gaining a broader perspective of the business operations. It involves increased decision-making responsibilities and a higher degree of collaboration with leaders across other sectors within the organization.

A parallel progression could be transitioning into a specialized role like a clinical pharmacology manager. This position involves a deeper focus and expertise in the therapeutic uses of drugs, incorporating elements of precision medicine and ensuring optimal pharmacotherapy outcomes.

Apart from moving into a regional role or specialization, these professionals have the potential to venture into other areas of healthcare management. They could consider becoming a healthcare consultant, guiding pharmacies and healthcare organizations on operational improvement and strategic planning. Another option is to move into policy and advocacy roles, shaping rules and regulations applicable to pharmacies and medicine distribution.

Pharmacy managers possessing entrepreneurial skills might consider owning and operating an independent pharmacy. An independent owner can influence healthcare at the local level, connecting directly with the community, providing tailored services, and making strategic decisions for the betterment of the community.

Finally, academia is another field where experienced managers can make substantial contributions. On this path, they can utilize their experience and knowledge to teach and mentor the next generation of pharmacy professionals.

The role of a pharmacy manager has changed dramatically in recent years. Key industry trends such as the rise of personalized medicine, increased utilization of technology, and the shifting healthcare landscape have made this position even more critical. Managers in the pharmacy sphere are now required to have a deeper knowledge of the latest medications. They must also possess strong leadership and management skills to address these changes effectively. The right candidate will understand the intertwining relationship between healthcare policy, pharmaceutical development, and the delivery of care.

The expansion of technology has greatly impacted this career path. From e-prescriptions to automation in dispensing medications, technological fluency is essential for any pharmacy manager. With companies continually innovating in the healthcare technology space, these professionals need to stay conversant with emerging tools and applications. This will not only improve the efficiency of the job but also enhance the safety and quality of patient care.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of pharmacists, including managers, is projected to grow by 2% through 2031. Although the advances in pharmaceutical research and its increased application in patient care may require more pharmacist services, this may be balanced by the automation of some routine aspects of the job. Therefore, job growth is likely to remain stable in the near future.

Pharmacy manager career tips

Understand comprehensive drug knowledge

As a pharmacy manager, you must thoroughly understand drugs, including their uses, side effects, and interactions. While this is an essential education part, it’s also important to continually update your knowledge. This industry experiences regular developments in medication, improved treatments, and new research. Constant self-updating helps you provide the best advice and care to your patients.

Build a professional network

Networking can lead to job opportunities, increased knowledge, and professional partnerships. You should strive to connect with both peers and senior professionals in your field. Some relevant professional associations and networks include:

  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
  • National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)
  • Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW)
  • American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP)

Focus on strategic business planning

Understanding business strategies can significantly improve your management skills. This understanding can help optimize pharmacy operations, leading to better patient outcomes and increased revenue. This could include staff management, inventory, budgeting, and customer service strategies.

Prioritize regulatory compliance

In the field of pharmacy, adherence to regulations is non-negotiable. Keep up-to-date with changing pharmaceutical regulations and protocols. This knowledge will not only ensure the health and safety of your patients but also protect the pharmacy from potential lawsuits and damages.

Engage in continuous learning

New pharmaceutical developments and healthcare technologies are constantly emerging. Committing to ongoing learning is vital for staying current and providing meaningful patient care. Some ways to continue learning within this profession are:

  • Attend annual or semi-annual pharmaceutical seminars
  • Take part in relevant online courses
  • Read recent pharmaceutical research and literature
  • Consider earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree if you haven’t already, or an MBA degree to enhance your business acumen

Where the pharmacy manager jobs are

Top employers

  • Walgreens Pharmacy
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Walmart Pharmacy

Top states

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • New York

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Pharmacy Times Careers
  • ZipRecruiter


What does a day in the life of a pharmacy manager look like?

Most days in this role are filled with administrative tasks, interacting with patients, resolving any pharmacy-related complaints, managing a team, and operating the business side of the pharmacy. You would also ensure the quality of the medications dispensed and oversee the accuracy of prescriptions.

What specific skills are most useful for pharmacy managers?

Excellent communication skills, strong business acumen, analytical thinking, and leadership skills are important. A deep understanding of pharmacology is also critical. Extraneous situations may require patience and strong problem-solving abilities.

What education is required to become a pharmacy manager?

A bachelor’s degree in pharmacy is the bare minimum requirement. However, most people in this job have a Doctorate in Pharmacy. Additional studies in business management might also be advantageous. Of course, you would need to get licensed to practice pharmacy and expect to participate in continuing education throughout your career.

What type of personality traits are best suited for pharmacy managers?

Being a people person is key. You should have empathy and a true desire to make patients healthier. Good ethics, integrity, and honesty are also imperative because you’re dealing with people’s health and private information. Of course, discipline, organization, decision-making skills, and responsibility also factor in.

What challenges might a pharmacy manager face?

Some might face difficulties managing all responsibilities within a given timeframe, such as completing administrative work, counseling patients, and dealing with unexpected situations, all while time is restrictive. Additionally, regulations are always changing, and staying current can be challenging.

How stressful is a pharmacy manager job?

The environment can be quite fast-paced, especially if the pharmacy is often busy. This job isn’t just about medicine; it’s managing a business and a team as well. So, it can be stressful when it’s a juggle between meeting the demands of patients, staff, and administrative duties.

Is there a high demand for pharmacy managers?

This job’s demand fluctuates with shifts in the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare sector, and population demographics. As healthcare needs increase, the need for pharmacy manager services should also rise, by extension. Keep an eye on industry trends and changes in healthcare policies for future job prospects.

How long does it take to become a pharmacy manager?

The timeline varies for everyone. Post-high school education can take four to eight years, depending on the level of higher education pursued. Afterward, gaining adequate experience, which helps to improve managerial capabilities, can take an additional few years.

How is the work-life balance for pharmacy managers?

Work-life balance can be difficult as the job is demanding, frequently requiring work on weekends, evenings, and occasionally on holidays. However, leveraging good time management skills, hiring sufficient staff, and defining clear professional boundaries would help achieve a reasonable work-life balance.

What variety of tasks are expected from a pharmacy manager?

They have to manage all tasks related to operating a pharmacy, including ordering and managing inventory, supervising pharmacy staff, liaising with healthcare professionals, and hiring and training. In addition, they’ve got to ensure all pharmacy services are carried out according to regulations and policies. The main goal is to ensure the safe and effective dispensing of medication to patients.