Is It Harder To Become A Dentist or Pharmacist? (Real Opinions From Doctors)

Dentistry and pharmacy both are healthcare fields. Dentists and pharmacists hold doctoral degrees. Both get in touch with patients and assist them on a regular basis; however, the kind of contact pharmacists and dentists maintain with patients differs. Although both are into healthcare fields, both career fields differ in terms of salary, duties, responsibilities, etc.

Now, the question is, is it harder to become a dentist or pharmacist?

When it comes to schooling there are many differences. For most the first 4-5 years of becoming a Pharmacist is a bit more challenging then that for a dentist. The last 2 years of a dentist can be much tougher than that of a pharmacist for most. This is because of the hands on training you have to do before you see patients and refine over two years equals lots of stress. So they both are very hard to get into and graduate. 

In terms of credit hours at the time of this writing you needed more for Dentistry then Pharmacy, but that doesn’t mean anything. That is why below we have gone out and got information from actual students, pharmacists, dentists among others on this matter so you don’t have to take our word for this. In the end it will boil down to what you really want to do. If you aren’t really passionate about being a Pharmacist, but go to Pharmacy School that will make it much harder to become on and vice versa for becoming a dentist.

As we know, pharmacists and dentists, both are different in terms of duties, responsibilities, etc., we cannot say that one field is harder or easier than another. In terms of admission, there is no comparison, because getting into dental school is equivalent to getting to a pharmacy school.

If you want to select the career field that is easy (between pharmacy and dentistry), then you need to understand that both are different career paths. For some people, the pharmacy may seem more exciting and easier, while for some, dentistry may seem appealing and easier. It’s mainly about what job you are willing to do in the future.

To help you better understand about pharmacy and dentistry, here we have talked about differences between both fields.


Pharmacists are also known as chemists or druggists. Basically, they are healthcare professionals who specialize in the use of medicines. The job of pharmacists revolves around medications.

They are responsible for the quality of medicines supplied to patients, ensuring that supplied drugs are within the law, making sure that the prescribed medications are suitable, and advising patients about medicines.

Pharmacists work in different environments. Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies and hospitals. Depending on your interests and skills, you can get into community pharmacy, ambulatory pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, academic pharmacy, veterinary pharmacy, pharmacy organizations, etc.


Dentists are also in the healthcare field, but their job is different from pharmacists. They diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of patients’ mouths. Basically, they help their patients with dental issues and help to develop better oral hygiene regiments.

As a dentist, you will be required to clean teeth, correct bite issues, undergo surgeries, extractions, etc. A dentist performs various dental procedures like extractions, root canals, filling cavities, etc.

Dentists work in either private practices, dental hospitals, or institutions (such as prisons, armed forces bases, etc.).

Pharmacy vs Dentistry Lifestyle

Pharmacists and dentists both have different jobs and responsibilities. First, let’s talk about pharmacists.

The duties and responsibilities of a pharmacist will slightly differ based on what specialization you choose. You have different options. You can be a community pharmacist, ambulatory pharmacist, hospital pharmacist, academic pharmacist, veterinary pharmacist, or you may choose any other specialization.

As a pharmacist, you will be responsible for dispensing prescriptions, communicating with prescribers, ensuring patient safety, working with patients in general health, counseling patents, managing staff. Performing administrative tasks and educating health provider colleagues.

Talking about dentists, their duties and responsibilities will differ slightly based on whether they are working in private practices, dental hospitals, or institutions.

As a dentist, you will be responsible for different tasks. The responsibilities of dentists include: diagnosing oral diseases, promoting oral health, oral disease prevention, creating treatment plans for restoring the oral health of the patients, interpreting x-rays & diagnostic tests, ensuring the safe use of anesthetics, monitoring the growth & development of teeth and jaws, performing surgical procedures, etc.

Pharmacy School vs Dental School

You must be confused about whether you should create your career in pharmacy or dentistry. Whether you should go with pharmacy school or dental school is solely based on what kind of job interests you the most.

As pharmacists and dentists’ jobs and responsibilities are totally different, it is obvious the educational requirements to become a pharmacist and dentist will also be different.

The educational requirements to become a dentist are Bachelor’s degree prior to admission to dental school; a doctoral degree in dental medicine or dental surgery; some dental specializations require completion of a residency. Licensure of dentistry is compulsory in all the states.

The educational requirements to become a pharmacist are at least two years of specific undergraduate study and four academic years of pharmacy study (PharmD program). After completing the pharmacy program, the applicant needs to pass the licensure examinations to become a certified pharmacist.

Dentistry or Pharmacy As A Career?

No matter whether you go with pharmacy or dentistry, both career fields have a good scope. For example, after completing your dentistry education, you can work in dental hospitals, institutions, or even start your own dental clinic. Talking about pharmacy, after completing the pharmacy education, you can work in general merchandise, hospital, any health care facility, or you can even start your own pharmacy business.

Talking about pharmacy, as a pharmacist, you will be responsible for dispensing prescriptions, communicating with prescribers, etc. In short, you will have specialization in drugs, and your job will revolve around medication. If you are someone who loves chemistry and physiology, pharmacy is the right career field for you.

Talking about dentistry, as a dentist, you will be responsible for the oral health of the patients. A dentist creates treatment plans, prompts oral health, monitors the growth of teeth and jaws, etc. If you love microbiology, physiology, and anatomy, then dentistry is for you; however, if maintaining the oral health of patients does not appeal to you, dentistry is not for you.

Pharmacist vs Dentist Salary

Pharmacists and dentists, both these healthcare professionals, work in different subsets of their professions. With the varied duties and responsibilities, the salary structure in both the career fields is also different.

Don’t go with the dentistry career option just because it is high paying. Before choosing between dentistry and pharmacy, make sure to select one that interests you the most.

According to data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of dentists is about $159,200, while pharmacists’ median salary is about $128,090. The pharmacy field does not have much job growth, while the dentistry career field has job growth of 7% from the year 2018 to 2028.

Pharmacist or Dentist? Opinions Of Real Current Or Past Students

We didn’t want you to only take our word for it on this matter since it is such a big decision to make with a lifetime career, lots of school, and possibly lots of student loans. So we gathered information from different forums on this subject. Most all of these opinions come from past or current students of Pharmacy or Dentistry.

These are not our opinions as the information was curated from these forums. The only thing we changed is any spelling or grammar errors that made the responses unreadable.

1. Buck-E-Badger “Pharmacy more competitive each year” – As much as pharmacy schools will tell you that there are so many opportunities outside of community/chain pharmacy, those opportunities are already limited and becoming more and more competitive each year. The reality is that most graduates will be working at a chain and for the most part all you do is get pressured to fill 500+ prescriptions a day, manage techs, get pressured and yelled at by management, get pressured and yelled at by customers, get disrespected by customers, get looked down on by doctors, the list goes on and on. As blunt as Rekker’s comment is, it’s not too far off.

2. Dr.D00M “Don’t let tuition price dictate your decision” – Both my parents have a pharmacy background and encouraged me not to pursue it for various reasons that echo @Luther2016 (over saturation, hard to get full-time hours for recent grads, patients are just numbers that you need to meet the quota for, etc.) so it wasn’t too hard of a decision for me. Even though dental school costs more, it seems like the return on investment is higher currently than for pharmacy school.

In any case, don’t let tuition prices dictate your choice. Choose based on what you enjoy more and where you can see yourself working for the next 40 odd years.

3. 321931 “Depends on location” – Out of all my friends in the workforce, my pharmacist friends have it the best. 401k matching, paid time off 2-3 weeks off, all clearing more than 200k, full benefits, minimal loans. Ol

You will never find that as a dentist.

However they got into their lead pharmacy position before the saturation and they also work really rural. They say with the oversaturation problem, pharm outlook doesn’t look to good.

4. Allantois “Both jobs can be monotone”-  Drilling and filling teeth all day is not only monotone, but also back breaking. If OP can get that pharmD degree for 120k, he could easily pay it off in 2-3 years. Good luck repaying that dental loan in 10 years. Even if pharmacy becomes saturated that everyone has to float, a pharmacist could easily work for 30h a week, make that 80-90k, and leave work at work when he goes home; all without having to worry about patients, school loans, or running a business. To each his own.

5. #Cariology “What subjects do you prefer to study?” – Something else to consider is the course material in both programs. There is a LOT of chemistry in pharm school. My friends used to carry around stacks of notecards filled with biomolecules and pharmaceutics over the course of 3 semesters of medicinal chemistry (and another semester of pharmaceutical chemistry just for good measure). They also took multiple courses in pharmacology and biochemistry. This is a very different education than the one you get in dental school, which is more biology and definitely less chemistry. You have to make it through years of education, so definitely factor in what you prefer to study.

6. PHarmkid952 “What can you handle?” – A lot of these posts are anti-pharmacy, but if you’re lacking dexterity and don’t enjoy the thought of sticking your hands in kids’ smelly mouths all day, I doubt you’d enjoy dentistry. Of course, that’s not all that defines the dentist’s profession, but I believe it is synonymous with the idea that pharmacists are just pill pushers. Pharmacists actually rarely count; it’s mostly the techs. Anyway, it’s all about perspective. They are two entirely different careers and neither is an easy route. There are negatives and drawbacks within both professions and it is best to create a pros/cons list and seriously consider what best fits your interests. I would possibly shadow in each of these settings and familiarize yourself with what the profession entails. I’m also unsure why you are only limiting yourself to these two career options: Have you considered PA? If you base your career decisions based only on salary and monetary considerations, you’re likely to be unfulfilled regardless of the career you choose.

7. School4Nerd57 “Shadow both before decision” – Just how like some people are short sighted and say pharmacy is just pill pushers….they are the same people that say dentistry is about helping people and doing different things everyday.

Newsflash. For every one patient that truly appreciates you, you will have 100 that say ” I hate going to the dentist, my filling hurts, I hate needles, it’s to expensive and don’t want to come in ever.” Helping people? I honestly believe medicine helps more people. I can only count on one hand how many people that have truly appreciated my work over 2 years.

Doing different things? Bread and butter is almost the same as pill pushing. Same thig everyday and carries a lot more liability and bitching from patients then just “pushing pills”… In addition when you go home you may worry about that ext that didn’t stop bleeding and hope they don’t end up in the icu. Pharmacy you just check out and you are done.

Let’s not start with the myriad of headaches that come with ownership.

shadow and see what you truly like. Shadow a new grad 1-5 years out not an old dentist. Those days are long over. I enjoy how dentistry gives me the freedom to do whatever whether it’s own my own business or temping for a while. For reference I finished loans early 200k and just chilling now.


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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