Is It Harder To Become A Nurse Or A Pharmacist?

Are you confused between pharmacy and nursing? This post will help you.

Though nursing and pharmacy both are related to the healthcare sector, the responsibilities, duties, salary, education qualification requirements, job growth, etc. of both are totally different.

Is nursing school harder than pharmacy school?

Neither pharmacy nor nursing is easy. But, if we compare both of them, it is based more on what kind of nurse you want to be. Pharmacy School is much harder then Nursing School in that you have 6 years of schooling total where Nursing you have 4 years and also can become an LPN before that 4 years with the correct certifications. 

Hence, if we compare in terms of getting the nurse/pharmacist position, becoming a nurse is quite easy. Note that, training for nursing would be very stressful. The nursing field is for you only if you can work really hard and handle too much stress.

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Which Job is Better Pharmacist or Nurse?

First of all, you need to keep in mind that pharmacy and nursing both are different career fields. Though both fields come under healthcare, however, they are different. We cannot say, between these two career fields, one is better than another.

Nursing and pharmacy both jobs are great.

What is a pharmacist?

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who practice in pharmacy. Pharmacists have the involvement in medical delivery to patients, preparation & packaging of medicine, and selling medication over the counter.

What is a nurse?

Some places where nurses practice their patient care are emergency rooms, mental health facilities, and neonatal units. Some responsibilities of nurses are providing advice to patients regarding diet, listening & recording patient’s symptoms, assisting doctors and technicians during diagnostic tests, etc.

Which you should choose is solely based on your interest and your goal. For example, if you are willing to help people, nursing would be a good career option.

Though the pay scale of nurses is comparatively low as compared to pharmacists, it provides diverse career opportunities. With the shortage of nurses, there is a great job growth for nurses.

Talking about pharmacists, they have comparatively higher pay scale than nurses, but there is no job growth.

Do Pharmacists Make More Than Nurses?

Before pursuing any career field, it is essential to know the average pay scale and job growth in that career field.

If we compare pharmacists and nurses, generally, pharmacists make more money than nurses.

If we talk in terms of job growth, there is a shortage for nurses due to which, the demand for nurses is increased. Also, there is great job growth in nursing.

Talking about pharmacists, they do get paid well, but the demand for pharmacists is not increasing year by year just like nurses. Hence, the job growth of pharmacists is not much.

Talking about educational requirements, the educational requirements to become a pharmacist is a doctoral degree and the educational requirements to become a nurse is bachelor’s degree.

As of the year 2019, the average salary range of pharmacists was $81k-$130k per year (According To Payscale). And, the average salary range of registered nurses for the year 2019 was $60k-110k per year (According to

Note that the salary could differ depending on the type of nurse. Overtime is definitely more accepted in the nursing field so you can make up a big difference with that.

Pharmacist vs Nurse Practitioner Salary

As we have said, the salary will differ based on what type of nurse you want to become. When it comes to becoming a nurse, you can be a nurse practitioner, registered nurse, etc.

Both, nurse practitioner and registered work closely with patients to monitor their health and providing care for their illness. But still, both have a different salary, authority, and duties. As we have already seen, the median salary of registered nurses is somewhere around $70,000.

Comparing the salary of pharmacists with nurse practitioners (NPs), the average salary range of pharmacists is anywhere from $81k-$130k per year (According To Payscale), while the average  salary range of nurse practitioners is $79k-$120k per year (According To Payscale). The range is mainly due to specialty and which state you live in, cost of living, etc.

The minimum educational requirement to become a nurse practitioner is the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). And, the educational requirement to become a pharmacist is the PharmD program. After the successful completion of the PharmD program, you are required to take two licensing exams.

Switching From Nursing To Pharmacy

Nurses and pharmacists play a crucial role in the healthcare sectors. Both work closely patients, but the educational requirements for both the career fields are different. For example, if a registered nurse (RN) wants to become a pharmacist, he/she will require some additional education.

Switching from nursing to the pharmacy will require you to spend some more years on education. Here are certain things which makes pharmacy different from nursing: education & training, pre-pharmacy coursework, PharmD coursework, and experience & specialization.

Here are the steps you need to follow to transition from nursing to pharmacy:

First, you need to qualify and complete the 4-year PharmD program. Then, you need to comply with the practical training. After that, you need to take and pass the NAPLEX (licensure) examination. Most states require to take and pass two licensure exams: NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) by NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) and MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam).

Nursing VS Pharmacy (Opinions Of Real Students)

We have curated information from a few different Healthcare Forums so you don’t have to take our word on anything. These are opinions on schools and overall job outlook.

Nothing has been changed except the grammar/spelling these are not our views but those of actual or past students.

Real Student Opinions: Nursing VS Pharmacy

1. Legaldrugnerd “Nursing higher job outlook” – Nursing has a higher job outlook than Pharmacy (and MD also). But I can’t say I know any nurses who majored in chemistry then backtracked to do a nursing major. I’d do some research for your living area or where you intend on living and go from there.

2. Pharmacy Princess “Just make sure you look at Nursing Day To Day Tasks”- I myself was also concerned with going to nursing versus going into pharmacy. In my opinion… I am a princess… I don’t like to do the stuff nurses do even if you want to become a nurse practitioner you have to become an RN first. This means cleaning excrement from other people… you know nurse stuff :hungover:. However, if you see yourself doing it go for it!!!

3. Lalaland33 “Nursing very physically demanding” – I just wanted to say that based on what my mom and sister are doing (mom is a registered nurse, sister is a nursing student/nurse assistant), it is a very physically demanding job. You have to be able to clean up other people’s feces and work with catheters, etc.
But….if you work hard enough and get through the first few years, like you said, you can move forward with your career by doing a masters/doctorate in nursing, nurse anesthetist, nurse practioner etc. and work in higher positions 🙂 So if the physically demanding part of the job is making you worried, at least know that it’s not the end of the road in that career.

I also had to make the choice between the two and to be honest, I don’t have the patience to do any of the above so pharmacy was a clear choice for me.

4. Mcar11 “Nursing Great Deal Of Stress” – As a non traditional, (much older lol) med-student, with several friends who are active nurses, I can tell you that these are all bad primary reasons to go into nursing.

Nursing requires a great deal of unappreciated, underpaid, very hard work. Most importantly, it requires a passion for medicine and patients. Perhaps I missed it, but I saw nothing indicating your desire to work with people. You HAVE to love what you do. If you don’t, you will be miserable and bitter about your choice every day and your patients WILL feel it.

If I were you, I would investigate your options regarding Chem a bit more. Beyond pharmacy there is R&D, technical writing, forensic science—some very lucrative fields under the right circumstances.

If nothing else, you are young! 🙂 Find an internship or very intense medical volunteer work that will give you some exposure to nursing.

Don’t wait forever to go back to school like I did, but do yourself a favor and don’t jump into such a mental, physical, and financial investment lightly.

5. BeautifulRobot “Shadow both Pharmacist and Nurse before decision” – I would recommend shadowing nurses or working as a nurse’s aid to get some first hand experience – even though you have family members who are nurses, you won’t really know if you like it or not unless you try it out yourself.
Also, why not medical school or dental school? What about optometry or podiatry? Or why even limit yourself to clinical work? Why not business, research, academia, or government (i.e. regulatory) work? Shadow as many different professionals as you can before making a decision. As I’ve gained more experience working in healthcare as a pharmacist I’ve learned a lot about different career paths that I wish I had known before I had gone to pharmacy school – a lot of the assumptions I made about different professions and specialties ended up being inaccurate. So my best advice is to actually go out there and try things for yourself. Reading things on the internet is fine, but is no substitute for shadowing/interning/volunteering.

6. GirlInTheWindow “Job security probably go with Nursing” – Pharmacy, nursing, and dentistry while may all fall into the “healthcare” category of careers are very different from each other. I won’t waste my time or yours explaining the difference in those fields as you must already know a lot about what each career entails. You must first ask yourself what it is that you want to do. If it’s just the money then any of the careers you mentioned will suffice.

If it is job security, I see your argument regarding nursing and dentistry being more secure, however nursing schools (especially ones with accelerated programs) are pumping out thousands of nurses every year so saturation is bound to occur there as well.

At the end of the day it’s all about what you make of it — if you go to any of the above programs and do the bare minimum then you will not have much of an advantage over the next guy and will have issues finding and maintaining a job. If you go into a program and work hard at every opportunity (and I’m not talking about just getting straight A’s — anyone can study for 10 hours a day) but participate in volunteer opportunities, research, and network heavily then I don’t care if the number of pharmacy schools double every year you will stand out and you will have good job security after you are done with school.

Between Pharmacy and Nursing, Which is Better?

Both, pharmacy and nursing are different career fields. Both have different educational requirements, salary criteria, job growth, skills, and experiences.

If you want to become a nurse, you can be a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP). Again, the salary, educational requirements, etc. of RNs and NPs are different. Being an NP, you have more authority and responsibility as compared to an RN.

Which career field you should choose is mainly based on your interest and goal. Understand the job responsibilities, job growth, duties, salary, etc. of both the career fields and then make the wise decision.

If you like to have the functionality to work in many different roles Nursing would definitely be the way to go as you can be a nurse in so many different specializations and your role can change dramatically. Nurses are always in need and work right in the front lines. So it will be a very individual decision.



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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