Mechanical Engineer Vs Pharmacist

So you are confused about whether to pursue mechanical engineering or pharmacy as a career option, right? Don’t worry; this article is for you. Here we will talk about duties, responsibilities, salary, education requirements, qualifications, etc., of both these career fields.

Mechanical engineering and pharmacy both are unrelated careers. One is about machines & tools, while another one is about the healthcare field. When selecting between these two, what matters the most is your interest.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers develop, design, build and inspect mechanical devices and systems like machines, tools, and engines. Mechanical engineering is a broad field. Mechanical engineers work in different areas like manufacturing, research & development, etc.

The duties of mechanical engineers are not limited to designing and developing mechanical devices. They are also responsible for assuring system and product quality through various testing methods. The mechanical engineering career field is projected to grow in the upcoming years. It is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029.

Duties & responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of mechanical engineers vary according to the size and type of the employer. Here are some essential duties and responsibilities of mechanical engineers:

  • Assessing project requirements
  • Measuring the performance of mechanical components
  • Maintaining and modifying equipment to ensure its safety
  • Writing technical documentation for machine operators
  • Making sure that products meet compliance regulations
  • Undertaking relevant research
  • Providing technical advice
  • Analyzing and interpreting data


First, you need to meet educational requirements to become a mechanical engineer. First of all, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, it’s up to you whether you want to study further and get a master’s degree. Companies often give more preference to candidates with master’s degree.

After obtaining the degree, you need to get the licensure. You want to be licensed as a professional engineer. Besides this, you also need to have better computer skills, with solid experience in CAD, CAM, and Matlab/Labview programs.


These are the skills you need to have as a mechanical engineer:

  • Design skills
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Quality focus
  • Requirements analysis
  • Technical skills
  • Teamworking skills
  • Conceptual skills
  • Control engineering
  • Production planning


Now you know about duties & responsibilities, qualifications, and required skills to become a mechanical engineer. Let’s talk about the salary. The average salary of mechanical engineers in the United States is $88,430. This can vary depending on various factors like experience, skills, company, etc.


Pharmacy is of different types. It includes hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy, compounding pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, consulting pharmacy, and more. Depending on the pharmacy type you work in, your duties & responsibilities can vary. Not just duties and responsibilities, salary also varies based on that.

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense medications and review dispensed medications. One of the significant duties of pharmacists is communicating with prescribers. If any time the prescription is unclear, it is the responsibility of the pharmacist to get in touch with the prescriber and confirm the dosage and formulation. This ensures the safety of the patients. Apart from this, pharmacists are also required to perform various administrative tasks.

Duties & responsibilities

Let’s have a look at some essential 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


To become a registered pharmacist, you need to meet education requirements as well as certification requirements. In order to become a pharmacist, getting a degree is not enough. You need to obtain a license as well. First of all, you need to get a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

After obtaining the PharmD, you need to get the licensure. Without that, 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).


These are the skills pharmacists need to have:

  • Attention to detail
  • Administering medications
  • Analyzing information
  • Focus on quality
  • Productivity
  • FDA health regulations
  • Communication skills


Your salary as a pharmacist may vary depending on the factors such as your experience, skills, pharmacy type, location, and more. Comparing the salary of pharmacists with mechanical engineers, pharmacists make more money than mechanical engineers. On average, the salary of pharmacists ranges between $129,958 and $146,907 in the United States.

Mechanical Engineer OR Pharmacist

So we didn’t want you to only take our word for it. We went out to the internet and scoured every forum, website and sub reddit that was comparing Mechanical Engineer careers to that of a Pharmacist. The responses we got back were very insightful and we hope it will help you make the best choice as well. This information was curated meaning nothing has been changed except spelling and grammar.

Real Professional Opinions

1. Mr. Bonita “Weight the costs” – I just wanted to compare someone who goes into engineering with a BS vs a Pharm.D over a timeline of 20 years.

An engineer needs a BS degree which would cost about $29,800. The starting wage of an Engineer is about $72,000. Over a lifetime an engineer’s wage can go up to 100,000.

For the purpose of 20 years.
10 x 72,000 = 720,000
10 x 100 = 1,000,000
20 year salary – dept = 1,720,000 – 29,800= 1,690,200 over 20 years

A pharmacist
On average, the complete cost of a pharmacy school program can range from $65,000 to up to $200,000. Median wage is about 117,000.
Since it takes 4 more years to go to pharmacy school. Only 16 years of work is to be used.
16 x 117,000 = 1,872,000
Wages – dept = overall pay after 20 years
1,872,000 – 100,000 = 1,772,000 over 20 years.

Conclusion. Basically, both professions over a 20 year period post undergrad, will likely put you in the same endpoint. Of course there will be huge variance, but this is a sample case.

Cost of BS Degree
Here’s how much the average student loan borrower owes when they graduate
Wage of Engineer
The 11 Top-Paying Jobs Straight out of College

The 6 Highest Paid Engineering Jobs

Cost of Pharm.D and wages

Cost vs Reward of Pharmacist School |

2. RedFish955 “Look at your city and area” – If you want to go into engineering. Look up the city you want to live in. Look up the big engineering companies. Look up their entry level jobs. Meet the requirements for those jobs. If it’s in a big city your likely going to need a masters with a 3.0 gpa and internships to sniff the job. If it’s remote lower grades and no masters will likely be required.

3. Run_DMV “Two completely different professions” – I don’t think the two professions compare. For one thing, PharmD takes at least 6 years to complete compare to 4 years for BS in Engineering. So if you’re interested in having different experiences, go in Engineering and be done with it. Go see where it takes you. However, if you’re interested, look up Pfizer’s Guide to Careers in Pharmacy. It’ll show you all of the different paths in pharmacy you can take.

Like someone else said, in engineering, you’re always worrying about lay-offs. Even my uncle who has an Masters in Electrical Engineering was almost laid off. Plus, engineers are often the victim of ageism. The older you are, the more likely companies are looking towards younger engineers to replace you. Let’s face it, who knows more about computers for example, a computer engineer from the 50’s where computer run on vacuum tubes or some young guy who just graduate and spent his or her youth programming, playing on the internet and etc.

If you can’t tell, I was once an engineering major at Drexel and I HATED IT. I was so depressed in that school and in that major. The economy is kind of crummy for engineers now. Even I had a hard time finding a co-op as an engineering undergrad and when I did, everyone at my workplace was moaning about how everyone might be laid off or they have to go work somewhere else. And today’s companies rather hire engineers with a little more experience and willing to work for less money than some kid who just graduate.

Just my 2 cents.

4. BlueClassRing “Engineer Here” – I have firsthand experience about what an engineer does, as I am a chemical engineer at the present.

Engineering can be very rewarding, but I promise you that it is a long and difficult road. The classes are very difficult theoretically and sometimes it is very hard to get conceptually. You will probably get a headache doing problems for 6 hours and getting nowhere. There are countless reports and presentations that you have to generate over your undergrad career. Oh yeah, most of the people you are in class with are nerds. :laugh: I believe that the level of difficulty and workload is comparable to the curriculum at a pharmacy school.(i have not way of verifying this because I’m not in pharmacy school)

I did my undergrad in chemical engineering and generally speaking engineering is the most difficult major you can undertake. My university had its program set up so a student could finish 200 quarter units in 4 years. It’s not impossible but it’s very difficult to do. You are either a genius or you don’t care that your gpa is a 2.0. Personally, I stayed for 5 full years to get my bachelor degree.

Working as an engineer can be rewarding as well if it’s your cup of tea, but let me outline some of the disadvantages.

1. You’re paid on salary. Whether you work 1 hour or 100 hours, you have a set salary. Most engineers work about an average of 60-70 hours/week which can include weekends. You don’t go home until your done with your projects. There are some jobs out there that require you to be on call much like a physician.(that’s the reason you see engineers with both pagers and cellphones) When something in the plant breaks down, they turn to you to troubleshoot and fix it. You may spend lots of hours at the plants trying to meet deadlines or finish projects. Adn the projects keep coming and coming and coming. Average starting pay for chemical engineers is about $53000 which is a little bit over $25-26/hr. Half of what pharmacists get paid and no compensation for overtime.

2. Pay raises are small at best. Most engineers that have been in industry for at least 10-15 years are probably making about 80K. Remember that is after 15 years with the same company. I have a friend that got his masters in chemical engineering and his starting salary was $62,000. He was making about 5K more than someone with a bachelor degree. I’ve seen some companies offer engineers with 8-10 years experience $70,000.

3. You spend a lot of time reading technical papers and writing technical reports. Most of the time corporates want you to document how to do a procedure properly. Most of the time it is documentation and writing how to manuals.

4. Engineers are stereotyped in corporations. Most stereotypes include no social skills, bad hygiene, and black and white thinkers. Most of all, they can’t get a date. :laugh:

5. Responsibility is tremendous. In some organizations, you have several subordinates to manage. Sometimes they like you, but most times they resent you because you’re their manager even though you don’t know crap about the job. It is your job to ensure that they perform well and things get done. This is one of the advantages I think of getting an engineering degree. You’re trusted to manage people and projects from the get-go. ON the flip side of that, you get crapped on when some goes wrong.

6. The work is redundant. Of course you can say that all work is like that to some point. :sleep: There is nothing interesting about writing reports or reading technical papers all day.

7. Working for corporate giants suck. They drone on about mission statements, statements of purpose, and a whole lot of other garbage that doesn’t make any difference anyways. I don’t know about job security as other posters have lead you on to believe but there will always be jobs for engineers. It just may not be the perfect job that you want to use your degree for. There are tons of process engineer jobs out there. Check….

8. Engineering is not something you leave at work(sometimes you never leave work.) Especially if you have a giant project to complete, you tend to take work home with you. I have an uncle who is a civil engineer who does his engineering drawings about home because he’s too busy at work. he probably works about 80 hours/week. He makes about 80K and he’s been doing it for 20+ years. I have another friend that works for a defense contract firm that makes 6 figures but that’s with tons of overtime and not having much of a life.

9. There are many engineering jobs out there where you do not use what you learned in school. In the time that I have been in industry, I have used only about 5%

Would I do engineering over again? Yes and no. It has afforded me the opportunity to travel and work in different countries in the past three years, but also I have found that I could not spend my life doing what I do now. A lot of engineers that post on this website get burned out and find out that working for corporations is not all that great. I also feel that engineers are undercompensated for what they do and the amount of stress that they have to deal with. Organizations can afford to give them this salary b/c there are so many of us out there.

Should you pursue engineering? Before you decide, I encourage you to shadow a couple of them before doing it. See what a typical day is like. If you can’t shadow them, interview one. Most will be happy to talk to you.
You can do engineering as a “backup” if you ultimately decide that pharmacy is not for you, but remember it is not easy doing it this way.

Your engineering degree can take you many places and obtaining an advanced degree is always a possibility. I know many classmates that went to med school, and law school afterwards. The rest went into industry and most of them will remain there.

5. KerKero “Shadow them both” – I highly encourage you to shadow a pharmacist. There will be crazy days in a pharmacy with demanding, unreasonable patients. There will be days when the patient is wrong in their expectations but you have to suck it up and try to handle them politely without losing their business (in retail). Working with the public takes a certain personality and patience and I admire those who can handle it. If you work in a hospital, be prepared to work either nights, weekends, or holidays. This varies with hospitals/positions but you may not be able to pick and choose what you want. These examples are just a couple that I can think of that are very different from design engineering. Do a search on this forum and you’ll see the complaints of people who have worked in different pharmaceutical sessions. Personally, when I considered pharmacy, I decided to look at the “ugly” side of it in order to put everything in perspective. If I could handle it and still enjoy it then I knew this profession was for me.

Also, if you go to pharmacy, it will be a paycut. I say that it’s a paycut because you’re missing at least 4 years of income and you’re accruing debt. Furthermore, you’re missing your annual raises, yearly bonuses, 401K company matching, etc.

Pharmacy school will be expensive and time consuming. However, if you’re willing to accept these risks then go for it. In the end, I strongly believe that you should enjoy what you do since you spend the majority of your day at work.

Final Summary

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, test, and inspect mechanical devices & systems like machines, tools, etc. Talking about pharmacists, they dispense and review prescriptions.

From the above explanation, we can see that the job description and job environment of both are totally different. Before choosing between these two, you need to understand the job description properly. It will give you an idea about what duties you will be performing after selecting a particular career position.


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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