What is it like to be a pharmacist?

How do I become a pharmacist?

“For risks and side effects, read the package insert or ask your doctor or pharmacist” - everyone is probably familiar with this from advertising. Would you like to become a pharmacist and deal professionally with medications and pharmaceuticals? To achieve your goal, you start with a pharmacy degree. You finish this after 8 to 9 semesters with the 2nd state examination. You will then complete a practical year, which you will conclude with the 3rd state examination. You then apply for a license to practice as a pharmacist. Your path will then lead you either to a public, private or your own pharmacy. However, it is also possible to work in research or in a pharmaceutical company.

What does everyday work look like?

As a pharmacist, you do not only work in a pharmacy, but the majority of your colleagues work there. Your day-to-day work could look like this:

8:00 a.m.

You arrive at the pharmacy. Your employees prepare the cash register while you sort the medication that has been delivered.

8:15 a.m.

The branch opens and the first customer is already there. Mrs. Kelber tells about her grandson, who couldn't sleep all night and who has a high fever. You advise her to go to the doctor with him first.

09:00 a.m.

Mr. Rödel will show you his prescription, which he has just received from his doctor. He is no longer sure when and how often to take the tablets. You look in the computer and explain to him how to take it.

11:30 a.m.

Ms. Lukas received an ointment from her dermatologist. Since these are not available in the composition, you produce them for the customer according to an individual recipe.

13:00 'O clock

The pharmacy closes for an hour and a half. For you, this means that you have time to eat something and switch off a little.

2:30 p.m.

Mrs. Lukas is there to pick up her ointment. You describe the correct storage and use to her. Then she gives you a new recipe for another cream. You also touch these yourself.

3:45 p.m.

Mr. Lamertz would like to redeem his prescription for medication. However, the medicine is out of stock. So you order it for tomorrow.

6:30 p.m.

The pharmacy closes. Together with your colleagues, you do the accounting and then also go into the evening.


  • General or subject-specific higher education entrance qualification
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Enjoying advice and working in a team
  • Interest in the latest developments in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Skill and sensitivity for the manufacture of medicines

What does a pharmacist do?

Your main task as a pharmacist is to properly supply the population with medicines. People come to you every day with or without a prescription who need your professional competence and support. You not only inform them about the risks and side effects of the drugs, but also explain to them how to use and store them. In addition, you will give medical advice. If a customer complains about certain symptoms, you recommend the appropriate medication or first refer them to a doctor.
There are medicines that the industry cannot offer itself. These include, for example, ointments with individual active ingredients or medicine for children with low doses. You produce these in a specially separated area in the pharmacy. There you have the opportunity to also make suppositories or capsules. The pharmaceutical technical assistant (PTA) will support you in this task.
Every working day you check at least one industrially manufactured drug in the laboratory as well as the raw materials for manufacturing your own drugs such as ointments. You also check the packaging and the instruction leaflet. This responsible work serves the quality assurance. If you suspect a quality deficiency in one of your random samples, you should inform the responsible authority and the German Pharmacists' Medicines Commission (AMK) immediately. If your suspicion is confirmed, it is possible to recall the drug from all German pharmacies within a few hours. The German Medicines Codex (DAC) prescribes the quality control procedures.
So that the drug supply of the population is also ensured on weekends and public holidays, different pharmacies are always available in so-called emergency services on these days. Only you as a pharmacist are allowed to perform this activity. During an emergency service, you not only hand over painkillers, but also, for example, baby diapers. Another task is advising the patient on which medication would help him or whether he should go to the hospital. Some emergency services run very quietly, with others you don't find time to rest. On average, you help 100 to 150 people on an assignment.

What are the job prospects?

As a pharmacist, you can expect medium career prospects. Because a pharmacy is only allowed to open its doors and dispense medication with a licensed specialist. Employers are also looking for pharmaceutically trained personnel in industry, the public service and science.

What qualities should I have?

  • Scientific understanding

What specializations are there?

During your studies the pharmaceuticals are the main focus, in the pharmacy it is the patients. Therefore, in general pharmacy training, you will acquire additional knowledge of all aspects of communication. Operations and staff management also include part of this area of ​​specialization. This is how you prepare for a management position. It is primarily about working in a public pharmacy.
As the name suggests, in this specialist area you are mainly preparing for the service as a hospital pharmacist. In this activity, you not only develop, test and distribute drugs, but also manufacture special drugs. In addition, you advise both the patient and the nursing staff and are in close contact with the doctors. After your training, you will take responsibility for ensuring that medication is used precisely, effectively and safely in the hospital.
In pharmaceutical analysis you will acquire knowledge about the use of suitable analysis methods and evaluation procedures for the sample utilization of active substances. Chemical, physical, biochemical and microbiological procedures play a major role in this. The sampling is an important part of the quality assurance of the drugs, which is why you examine not only the active ingredients but also the starting materials and the already finished drugs. You then release or report the active ingredient. This area of ​​specialization is mainly used in the fields of science and the pharmaceutical industry.
As a specialist pharmacist for drug information, you are responsible for the collection, processing, evaluation and dissemination of pharmaceutical data. You get this through clinical studies, after drug incidents or from electronic databases. With the help of electronic data processing and statistical methods, you evaluate the information collected. For this job, you will supplement your pharmacological and legal knowledge during your further training.


  • Approval as a pharmacist is only possible if all three sections of the pharmaceutical examination have been passed and the practical year and the 8-week clinical internship have been completed
  • Access to the profession is regulated by the license to practice medicine for pharmacists

Did you already know, that ...

  • ... of around 63,000 working pharmacists, around 50,000 work in a public pharmacy?
  • ... around 20,000 public pharmacies supply the population in Germany with medicines?
  • ... the pharmacist John Pemberton invented the recipe for Coca-Cola in 1886?

This celebrity is also a pharmacist

Theodor Fontane - writer

Theodor Fontane began his apprenticeship as a pharmacist in 1836. In 1839, one year after the publication of his first novella “Geschwisterliebe”, he took up a position as a pharmacist's assistant. Within 7 years he developed into a “first class pharmacist”. For this, Fontane had to prove a scientific training as a pharmacist in addition to the manual skills. (Image: Carl Breitbach)

What speaks for the job

  1. Partly collectively regulated payment
  2. Responsible activities
  3. Daily interaction with people
  4. Self-employment possible

What speaks against the job

  1. Few opportunities for advancement
  2. Emergency, weekend and night services

Starting salary as a pharmacist

After completing your academic training as a pharmacist, you will first complete your practical year. During this time you work as a trainee or intern in a pharmacy and receive an average of € 890 ¹ gross per month. As a licensed pharmacist, your income at the start of your career is around € 3,350 ¹.

Rural pharmacies, by the way, sometimes pay more than the collective agreement dictates, as their location often makes them less attractive to employees. Otherwise, however, the amount of your income is not significantly related to the location of the pharmacy.

Salary based on work experience

In the first few years as a pharmacist you will earn around € 3,450 ¹ per month. After 6 to 10 years in the job, your gross income will be € 3,750 ¹. If you work in a hospital pharmacy, your payment is regulated by the collective agreement for the public service (TVöD). In the course of your career it can rise to € 7,000 ¹. A doctorate increases your income regardless of the industry in which you work.

Salary based on work experience

In the first few years as a pharmacist you will earn around € 3,450 ¹ per month. After 6 to 10 years in the job, your gross income will be € 3,750 ¹. If you work in a hospital pharmacy, your payment is regulated by the collective agreement for the public service (TVöD). In the course of your career it can rise to € 7,000 ¹. A doctorate increases your income regardless of the industry in which you work.

Salary by state

Your payment is usually regulated by collective bargaining agreements and the same in every federal state. It is € 3,650 ¹ gross per month. Exceptions to this rule are North Rhine-Westphalia with a monthly salary of € 3,550 ¹ and Saxony with € 3,400 ¹. While Saxony does not participate in the general collective agreement, NRW has its own. In addition to the salary, there is also remuneration for emergency services, which is not included in the diagram.

With these 30 courses you can become a pharmacist