Pharmacy and law both are totally different career fields. Depending on your skills and interest, the ideal career field may differ for you. If you are confused about whether to become a lawyer or pharmacist, then this post is for you.
Here we have talked about duties & responsibilities, skills required, education requirements, qualifications, salary, etc., of both these job positions. This will help you select the right career field.
Lawyers or Attorneys are certified professionals who advise and represent juristic persons in legal matters. A lawyer provides counsel and represents individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes. As a lawyer, one of your main duties will be to uphold the law while protecting the client’s rights.
You will be advising, researching, and collecting evidence. Apart from this, lawyers are also responsible for drafting legal documents such as divorces, contracts, and real estate transactions. Depending on the practice environment and field of specialization, your duties may vary. In short, some of the main responsibilities involved in the day-to-day life of a lawyer are performing legal research, drafting legal documents, provide legal advice to clients, and argue motions & attend pretrial court appearances. As a lawyer, you can represent either the party that is filing the legal action or the party that is being sued or charged.
Duties and responsibilities
Here are some duties and responsibilities of lawyers:
- Interview new clients and meet with existing ones
- Draft and review legal documents
- Perform legal research to know about the facts
- Interpret laws, rulings, and regulations for natural and juristic persons
- Explain the law and give legal advice
- Offer legal representation to clients in court proceedings on civil or criminal matters
- Follow up after a court decision has been handed down or a settlement has been reached
Education requirements and qualifications
To become a lawyer, you need to fulfill the education requirements and also get the licensure. The education required to become a lawyer includes completing a minimum of seven years’ post high school education. Seven years of education consists of a four-year undergraduate degree and three years of full-time law school. When you choose the part-time program, the law school can require four years.
First of all, you need to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Apart from this, you will also need to pass a bar examination in each state you wish to practice. And you also need to pass an ethics examination.
The salary of lawyers varies depending on practice setting, geographic location, and specialty. The average salary of lawyers in the United States is $122,960 a year. The top 25 percent of lawyers make $186,350 a year, and the bottom 25 percent earn $80,950.
Here are the skills required to become a lawyer:
- Great oral skills
- Great written skills
- Empathy and compassion
- Analytical skills
- Honesty and trustworthiness
We have seen that lawyers are professionals who advise and represent in legal matters. Talking about pharmacists, they are healthcare professionals responsible for dispensing and reviewing prescriptions. Pharmacists make sure whatever medicines are dispensed to patients are safe. This is the basic duty of pharmacists.
Apart from dispensing prescriptions, pharmacists perform many other duties. Duties and responsibilities can vary depending on the pharmacy type. It includes hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, compounding pharmacy, consulting pharmacy, and more.
Duties and responsibilities
Here are some important duties and responsibilities of pharmacists:
- Prepare medicines after reviewing and interpreting patients’ orders
- Dispense prescriptions
- Counsel patients
- Communicate with prescribers
- Ensure patients’ safety
- Work with patients on general health
- Manage staff
- Perform administrative tasks
Education requirements and qualifications
To become a pharmacist, first, you need to meet the education requirements. First of all, you need to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Getting the degree and meeting education requirements is not enough. Obtaining the license is so important. Without the license, you won’t be considered a registered pharmacist. Depending on your state, license requirements may vary. You must pass NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) by the North Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Apart from this, most states also require candidates to pass MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam).
The salary of pharmacists can vary depending on the type of pharmacy, location, skills, experience, etc., factors. On average, your salary as a pharmacist in the United States will range somewhere between $129,958 and $146,907 a year.
Here are the skills required to become a pharmacist:
- Attention to detail
- Administering medications
- Analyzing information
- Focus on quality
- FDA health regulations
- Communication skills
Lawyer OR Pharmacist
From the above comparison between lawyer and pharmacist, you can see that lawyers work on legal matters, while pharmacists work in the healthcare facility. The primary duties of lawyers are to advise clients on legal matters, prepare legal documents, and conduct legal research.
Talking about pharmacists, their primary responsibilities are to dispense prescriptions, review prescriptions & ensure safety, perform administrative tasks, and manage staff. After considering various factors, you need to figure out which career field interests you the most.
So we didn’t want you to only take our word for it so we went out and scoured the internet to get real Lawyers and Pharmacists opinions on this matter. The information was curated from forums, websites and sub reddits. Everything is the same as the original except any spelling or grammar that needed to be changed.
1. SHC1982 “Depends on what kind of lawyer” – You need to mention WHAT KIND of lawyer you are considering. There are many different kinds of lawyers and the pay ranges for them are very different. For example if you were OJ Sampson’s lawyer you make millions. LOL… One thing good about law over pharmacy is that some lawyers make millions of dollars. While pharmacists have a salary cap. I would say 99.99999% of pharmacist make between 90K to 150K a year.
I chose pharmacy over law b/c English is my second language. You need perfect English and a huge vocabulary to become a lawyer. My little sister score perfect on the verbal section of the SAT and GRE. So she chose law, but I didn’t so I chose pharmacy. LOL…
2. Shmooy8850 “Pharmacy” – I am finishing law school at a top 10 school. I would recommend that you stick to pharmacy. Here’s why:
Based on your questions, you seem more interested in the lifestyle/remunerative aspects of a career. Law is a field that you probably won’t enjoy if you aren’t interested in it for intrinsic reasons. If you didn’t grow up dreaming about being a lawyer, it’s hard for me to believe that you would enjoy it just as a “job.” If you have the skill set for pharmacy, stick to it. The market is better. These days, the majority of law schools seem to be charging tuition as if they offered the same post-graduation employment opportunities that the very top schools do. If you can’t get into one of the top 14 schools or secure a full ride at a good school in the first or second tiers, I don’t think it makes economic sense to go. Don’t go to a third or fourth tier school, period. Quite frankly, the field is saturated like never before. Whereas our aging population seems to suggest an increasing need for pharmacists, there is no such predictable trend in law. The overall health of the economy has a major impact on the legal market, and in the past few years, major firms have engaged in widespread layoffs, salary decreases, and hiring freezes. It is simply not a healthy market, and I fear that a growing number of law graduates will never end up practicing law (or paying off their loans, for that matter). Even three years from now, the opportunities for anyone who is not at a top school are probably not sufficient to justifiy the extreme cost of going. If you don’t already have a fairly specific idea of what kind of (realistic) legal career you’d pursue, you will go to law school with limited direction, and you’ll already be behind many of your peers.
There are a plethora of people writing about the problems in the legal market right now. I suggest reading all of these and browsing through the comments to some of the posts.
3. BWG08 “Both job markets are saturated” – Depends where you would want to practice too. I know in my state a new governor is coming in on the 4th and is proposing big state cuts so jobs will go down and seeing as working for the state attorneys or feds is a big part of law that is something to consider. Just as in Pharmacy now you have to have more than just a JD to stand out. My brother graduated in May with a JD and has been working as a temp with a firm but is finding a hard time trying to find people that want to hire full time. The reason he believes he has the temp job now is because he dualed and got his MBA same time as JD. Also sitting here writing this a Circuit Judge is over my shoulder telling me how the market is saturated like some others have mentioned.
Salary wise a Pharmacist stays pretty consistent with no major changes up or down. A lawyer can expect a wide range of salary options but depending on who you work for some of the benefits you receive that don’t show up on the paycheck are nice like debt forgiveness i.e. if you give a certain amount of time to the government they’ll waive the rest of the debt that you have accumulated. Or if you work in a big private practice you’ll make $$$. However both take a lot of time to accumulate and you must stay consistent.
And as stated A Few Good Men and Legally Blonde are not the reasons to become a lawyer just like House and Scrubs are not reasons to go into the medical field. Sounds like your kinda confused my advice take a year off and shadow both heavy and see which ones you really want to do. Pharm and JD are very expensive to be wavering going in. You’d be better off shadowing many types of both and figuring out for sure what you want. Both are to difficult if you’re not fully invested.
4. Fauxden “PharmD” – I would look into PA school. It quick (relatively) and you get the benefit of actually working with patients as well as prescribing, surgery, etc. Good wage. In demand. No med school loans, or malpractice insurance. I think pharm is going the way of law school as far as saturation is concerned. I am looking into going to PA school after I graduate pharm school (im in the middle of it, so it I can’t really just drop out– $$ reasoning).