Do Pharmacists Work Everyday? (Hours & Holiday Pay Guide)

Are you planning to pursue pharmacy as your career field? Before pursuing pharmacy as your career, it is imperative to know all the details about it. Details like the job description, salary, types of pharmacies, working hours of pharmacists, etc. Knowing all these will give you an idea of whether this career field is for you.

So, how many days a week do pharmacists work?

Pharmacist on average work 4-5 days a week which seems pretty easy however those days can range from 10-12+ hours. Your work schedule as a pharmacist will be based on where you work. Depending on the pharmacy company, they have their own criteria for pharmacist work schedule.

Pharmacists don’t work daily; the weekly work hours are split. Let say, if a particular store has two pharmacists, both pharmacists split the work hours. The standard work hours at Walgreens are 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM then overlap of something like a 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Most retail pharmacies are all a bit different but in the end it is really the same.

It is common for pharmacists to work night shifts, weekends, and even during holidays. As a pharmacist, how many hours you will need to work will differ based on the type of pharmacy you are in. Let say, if you are a retail pharmacist, your working hours will be higher as compared to the hospital pharmacist.

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How many hours do pharmacists work?

Your pharmacist work hours will be based on various factors such as where (company) do you work and what pharmacy type you are into. As we have already discussed, the work hours of retail pharmacists are more than hospital pharmacists.

Hospital pharmacists usually work 8-10 hours a day, while most retail pharmacists work 12 to 14 hours a day. Talking about full-time salaried hospital pharmacists, they have a work schedule of 40 hours a week set (5 days x 8 hours).

Although retail pharmacists work more hours than hospital pharmacists, those working in both receive about the same payout these day. The difference in salary is starting to even out so try not to pick based on pay as much as what you are going to enjoy as a career. There are of course retails that pay much more especially in remote areas or very busy stores, but those have their big share of downsides and headaches.

Do pharmacists get paid weekly?

This differs depending on the company you select. Some companies pay their pharmacists monthly, while some pay weekly. Everywhere I have worked however has paid bi-weekly. That is both for retail and hospital.

Working for the state it can be a bit different as well as a lot of that is based on budgeting so sometimes getting paid once a month is the norm for that.

Do pharmacists work holidays?

Yes. As a pharmacist, you will be working on holidays, late nights, vacations, and also on weekends. Furthermore, pharmacists normally get a minimal vacation. If you work in the retail pharmacy, you will be spending more hours working than the ones who are working in a hospital pharmacy. If your retail chain is open during the holidays you will likely have a chance of working. Same goes for hospital they may have cut hours which can workout in your favor if you get Holiday pay.

I have worked for companies where I both get Holiday pay and just got extra PTO for the year that I had to use. So for example one retail I worked for I would get 8 hours holiday pay but if I worked lets say a 6 hour holiday shift that day I would get paid the 6 plus the 8.

Hence, if you think after becoming a pharmacist, you will have chilling vacations, weekends, and holidays, this likely will not happen right away as it is based on how many years versus how much vacation time you accrue. The vacation time will be less, especially in a retail pharmacy. In retail pharmacy, you can expect to get just two weeks of vacation a year. When you work with the same pharmacy for several years, it may go to around three weeks.

So, if you are planning to become a retail pharmacist, there are various things you need to take into account. One of those things is the holidays. As a pharmacist, you will be working during weekends, late nights, vacations, and even on holidays.

Hospital Pharmacist Hours

The working hours in the pharmacy field are not fixed. They differ mainly based on your selected pharmacy. For example, whether you are in hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, or any other.

Hospital pharmacy is the pharmacy specialization that is integrated into the care of a medical center. Hospital pharmacists do provide information on potential side effects and can also check that the medicines are compatible with the existing medication.

Talking about working hours, the working hours of hospital pharmacists are lesser as compared to retail pharmacists. Hospital pharmacists usually work for 8-10 hours a day. The total number of hours a hospital pharmacist needs to work every week is 40 hours. It is basically a 5-day a week job or it can be.

Retail Pharmacist Hours

Retail pharmacy is another career field in pharmacy. The tasks of a retail pharmacist are quite different from hospital pharmacists. Retail pharmacy means an independent pharmacy, a supermarket pharmacy, a chain pharmacy, or a mass merchandiser pharmacy.

In a nutshell, a retail pharmacy is a pharmacy where a customer gets medicine directly, as per prescription. Most people find the retail pharmacy job as stressful.

There are several things that make retail pharmacy very stressful. Here are they: dealing with people at their worst, the pressure to do things as fast as possible, constant interruptions, and focus on volume instead of the quality of care.

The working hours of retail pharmacists are more as compared to hospital pharmacists. As we have seen, hospital pharmacists work for 8 hours a day, while retail pharmacists work for about 12 to 14 hours a day. Due to higher working hours and working even during holidays, you may find a stressful retail pharmacy job. It really will also come down to how busy the store is and the actual retail chain. I have worked for retail chains where I worked 12-13 hours by myself with no overlap. Others I had overlap everyday so the hours were shorter. This is definitely something to research based on the company and also bring up in the interview.

Salary: Hospital Pharmacist vs Retail Pharmacist

Although retail pharmacists work more hours than hospital pharmacists normally, the pay is coming to down to be about the same. It used to be that you went with retail for the money now with lots more Pharmacy schools and graduates the pay is coming down for retail. So definitely look into something more specialized.

In hospital pharmacy, you can get about the same pay as retail and your working hours will likely also be less. I think overall hospital can be a much better working environment as you get to focus on the patient more. Retail can be very tough with the hours and extra things that come with it like the inventories.

The salary may differ depending on your skills, experience, knowledge, location, etc. According to Glassdoor’s estimate, the highest retail pharmacist salary was $139,000, while the highest hospital pharmacy salary was $144,000.

What is a Pharmacists Work Schedule Like? Real Pharmacists Opinions

We didn’t want you to only take our word on this. So we went out to forums and gathered up info from other current and past Pharmacists to ask them their opinions on this matter.

Real Pharmacists

1. Houtx “2 week schedule” –

retail 9-9 store

rotating schedule every 2 weeks, SUN-SAT scheduling so I always have one weekend day and one weekday off per week

work every other weekend (only downside to my job)

2. Digs “2 weeks vacation” – Not starting off. From what I’ve been told by most pharmacists is 2 weeks vacation after a year or so is pretty standard, that goes up to 3+ after a few years with some places capping at 3. Hospitals pay lower but *tend* to have better benefits as far as vacation goes (but this varies by institution). Some pharmacists work 12-13 hour shifts resulting in them working 2-3 days on some weeks with rotating weekends. Where I used to work the pharmacists had 80 hours every two weeks so they have normal 40 hr a week pay with one week having them work 2 weekdays, Fri/Sat/Sun and then the next week only working 2 weekdays basically giving them 5 days off (this would be my dream schedule). If they wanted to take an extended vacation they could leave on the week they worked 5 days and then only take a few days vacation the next week basically giving them near 2 weeks off with only filing for about 1 weeks vacation. You can sometimes work things out or pull out extra hours to make up for unpaid vacation after you reach your allowed days.

3. Gwarm01 “1 month vacation” – Clinical/staff, rotating 8 hours shifts, every other weekend. Get about a month of vacation per year but have trouble scheduling that much time off.

3. ChalupaBatman85 “Leave work and forget about it” – In my office 9-10 hours per day Monday to Friday, on my laptop for a few hours most Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I always feel like I am supposed to be working and it makes it difficult to enjoy my time off. The great thing about retail and non-management jobs was walking out and being totally free until my next shift.

4. PumpkinSmasher “Ambulatory” – Amb care. Most days 8 to 4 but sometimes I will flex 7 to 3 or 10 to 6. Monday through friday. We are closed on weekends and all holidays

5. JBRL “Different scenarios” –

Psychiatric hospital LTC:
Pharmacist 1: comes in a 7:30am, out by 3:30pm.
Phramacist 2: in at 11:00am, out by 7:00pm
And others in-between. Work on every 3rd weekend.

Hours vary. Can work from home on some days if needed or allowed, depending on function. Some come in at 7am and out at 3:30-4pm (1hr lunch). Others come in at 9am. Depends on personal preference and manager. There’s some flexibility in setting hours day-by-day as long as they are somewhat consistent every week. Most leave by 5pm, almost all leave by 6pm. I’m usually one of the last, if not last to leave, actually…

Supermarket Retail:
9am to 9pm on weekdays. 1 pharmacist per shift. Work every other weekend 9-6 and 9-4. Split hours 40/40 between two pharmacists, so 3 days off every week.

6. Confettiflyer “Inpatient” – Inpatient clinical: 0600-1630, occasional floating to 1130-2200 maybe 2-3 times every 2-3 weeks (these days set in a row).

7. Science “3 one week and 4 the next” –

Most pharmacists I know in retail work 3.5 days a week (3 days one week, 4 the next) with very long shifts. Some like to split shifts and work more days per week.

Some retail night shifts work 7-on 7-off which sounds attractive to some people but I’m told that it is gets old really quick.

8. Mgarph “CVS” – I’m with CVS and our area does require splits now in regular 8a-9p stores, they do allow 1 long day if you want and you don’t have to split weekends obviously, but they left the 24 hour stores up to us since we do such high volume, don’t mess with what is working, etc. I prefer only working 3-4 days per week so I typically don’t split unless my partner or I need part of a day off. From what I understand WAGS always splits and typically works 8 hour shifts

9. Maria10h “CVS long hours” – At cvs the 8a-9p stores without overlap split shifts as either 8a-2p, 8a-3p, or even 8a-2:30p in my area.

10. Sine “13 hour days” – I do six 13-hour shifts in a pay period and split the other days out of compassion for other pharmacists. I would love to do 7 weekday shifts only (like I did before) but that meant two bad floaters instead of only one bad floater like it is now

11. Farcus “Normal” – 9-530 usually, but i staff one week a month depending, which can be 7-330 or 11-730 or 2-1030, not too bad

12. JakeSill “Hospital vs Retail” – If you’re in a hospital setting, are you more likely to work 5 days a week? Compared to retail(apart from Walgreens) where you can work 3-4 days a week?




Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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