Pharmacist vs. Chemist: Career, Education, Salary

Pharmacists and Chemists are professionals in different fields of study, and specialized knowledge is required for each profession. Both professions deal with pharmaceuticals (chemicals made from plants). They differ by studying different aspects of these substances.

What is a Pharmacist?

As the name implies, Pharmacists specialize in pharmacy and have a deep understanding of pharmacology – the science that involves drugs and their interactions with the human body.

What is the Study of Pharmacy?

The title “pharmacist” belongs exclusively to those who have graduated with a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited school of pharmacy and passed a state examination that permits them to dispense medication under supervision according to their level of training. This ensures that they are well-versed in all aspects of pharmacology, including compounding, dispensing, and administering medication.

Pharmacists go on to study subjects like:

  • pharmaceutics (drug delivery);
  • pharmacokinetics (drug absorption, distribution, and elimination);
  • pharmacodynamics (interactions between drugs and receptors);
  • pharmacognosy (study of natural products, including herbs) and more.

Pharmacists also learn how to compound medication since it is illegal for them to simply fill a prescription. They are obligated to make their versions of the drugs they sell, ensuring that each pill contains exactly what the doctor prescribed.

What Exactly Does a Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals trained in the science of pharmacy. Pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other medical settings.

They may also provide general health care, such as vaccinations, manage medical and cosmetic aids such as hearing aids and braces. They may advise over-the-counter medication, make out prescriptions, and direct customers to the appropriate medication. Some pharmacists also specialize in particular areas of pharmacy, such as pediatric or geriatric medicine.

Pharmacists primarily work with medicines and must understand how to balance benefits and side effects and dosage and interactions between medications. Say for a common and widely-used drug like Ivermectin, a pharmacist might handle the sales and prescribing of the medicine, but the drug wouldn’t exist without chemists.

What is the Average Salary of a Pharmacist?

The salary for a pharmacist is over $120,000 per year on average.

What is a Chemist?

Chemists focus on chemistry related to all living things–including how to create new chemicals for industrial purposes or synthesize natural compounds.

Chemists primarily focus on lab work rather than patient interactions.

What does a Chemist Study?

Chemists need at least a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry followed by an MS or Ph.D. in the field.

A chemist typically attends a four-year undergraduate degree in Chemistry and can branch into many different research areas, including environmental chemistry or nanochemistry. They can choose to specialize in either organic chemistry or analytical chemistry. After graduating, the chemist may continue their education to do postgraduate research on the topic of their choice.

Chemists must also be highly educated in the sciences since they use complex equipment and techniques to develop new drugs or medicines. There are no national qualification exams for chemists, but some employers may require an MS degree since it shows prospective employees have had formal training in chemistry.

What Does a Chemist Do?

Chemists generally work in laboratories alongside other chemists.

What is the Average Salary of a Chemist?

On average, a chemist with a bachelor’s degree will earn around $80,000 per year.


Pharmacologists study primarily how drugs interact with cells, while chemists mainly study how chemicals interact with other chemicals. The difference in pay can largely be attributed to education level and years of experience and the different job responsibilities such as clinical judgment and responsibility for their work.

The job of a pharmacist is more complex than that of a Chemist, requiring higher levels of education and specialized licensing. The main difference between a pharmacist and a chemist is that pharmacists are trained in the science of pharmacy while chemists are educated in chemistry.

A pharmacist can be helpful for people who need to take prescription medications, which require much more supervision than over-the-counter drugs. Chemists may help someone solve an equation or synthesize chemicals required for their research project.