Physical Therapist Vs Pharmacist

Are you confused between the physical therapist and pharmacist career options? If yes, this blog post is for you. Here we have shared a detailed comparison between both the career options. Understanding the differences between both would let you make the right decision.

Before choosing any career option, it is imperative to have a clear idea about the duties and responsibilities of the job position. Salary plays a crucial role in any job position, but sometimes, salary isn’t everything. Your interests and skills can also affect the decision.

Both physical therapists and pharmacists are healthcare professionals. The duties and responsibilities of both are totally different. In a nutshell, if you are interested in the healthcare field, you can choose between these two.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists plan and work on improving the physical health of patients. As a physical therapist, you will be responsible for so many tasks. As a physical therapist, you will be diagnosing and treating patients with health conditions.

Your job won’t just be to help restore physical functions; it will also be to help promote the overall health and wellness of the patients. As a physical therapist, you will be helping your patients avoid getting surgery and requirements for prescription drugs.

Here are the main job responsibilities of a physical therapist:

  • Planning and implementing medically prescribed physical therapies
  • Providing the best quality care to patients
  • Determining physical therapy treatment plans
  • Helping patients accomplish treatment plan
  • Evaluate and record the patient’s progress
  • Provide instructions to patients about in-home exercises and therapies

These are the responsibilities. Talking about skills, essential skills required to be a physical therapist are communication, interpersonal, motivation, time management, persuasion, and computer skills.


Pharmacists are healthcare professionals whose main responsibility is to dispense drugs. They supply medicines in the most economical and effective way possible. Apart from prescribing drugs to patients, pharmacists also need to continually monitor the quality, safety, and use of medicines.

Pharmacists are of different types. Depending on your interest and qualifications, you can work in a hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy, industrial pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, etc. Pharmacy isn’t just about prescribing medications. Your duties and responsibilities as a pharmacist can vary slightly depending on the type of pharmacist you want to be.

Here are the primary job responsibilities of a pharmacist:

  • Dispense prescriptions
  • Communicate with prescribers
  • Ensure the safety of the patients
  • Perform administrative tasks
  • Control medications by monitoring drug therapies

The skills required to be a pharmacist are administering medication, analyzing information, verbal communication, management, productivity, focus on quality, and attention to detail.

pic of physical therapist and pharmacist

Physical Therapist Vs Pharmacist

Although physical therapists and pharmacists are healthcare professionals, the duties, responsibilities, salary structure, skills, etc. of both are different. Before choosing between physical therapist and pharmacist as a career option, you need to know the job description of both.

Duties & responsibilities

Like pharmacists, a physical therapist is also a healthcare professional. The main responsibility of a physical therapist will be to diagnose and treat patients. As a physical therapist, you will be helping your patients avoid surgery and reducing the need for prescription drugs. Some regular jobs of physical therapists are consulting with patients to learn about their physical condition, diagnosing movement dysfunction, and providing assistance to patients about the use of equipment like wheelchairs/walks.

Talking about pharmacists, their major responsibility is to prepare and dispense medications. The pharmacist needs to prepare medications by reviewing and interpreting physician orders. Some essential duties & responsibilities of pharmacists are: dispensing prescriptions, communicating with prescribers, ensuring the safety of patients, working with patients on general health, and managing staff.


As the duties and responsibilities of both the career options are different, the required skills are also different. To become a physical therapist, the required skills are communication skills, interpersonal skills, basic computer skills, persuasion skills, and motivation skills. On the flip side, the skills required to become a pharmacist are analyzing information, attention to detail, focus on quality, productivity, verbal communication skills, and pharmacology.


Before choosing between the two, considering this factor is so important. Considering this factor will give you an idea about how much time it will take to achieve that job position. Education and experience requirements to become a physical therapist are DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy), licensed as a physical therapist, BLS (basic life support) certification, and a minimum of one year of experience in physical therapy.

Talking about pharmacists, the education & experience requirements to become a pharmacist are a graduate degree from ACPE accredited pharmacy college, completion of Pharm D. program, valid state pharmacist licensure, and current BLS for Healthcare Provider CPR.


Salary is another crucial factor to keep in mind when choosing any career option. Don’t get into a particular career field just because it has more salary. Give attention to your interest as well.

The average salary of a physical therapist in the United States is around $82,574 a year, while the average salary of a pharmacist in the United States is about $117,132 a year.

Physical Therapist or Pharmacist? (Real PT & PharmD Opinions)

We didn’t want you to only take our facts into account so we scoured the internet to get feedback from real Physical Therapist and Pharmacist. This information was curated so nothing has been changed except any spelling or grammar where needed.

Real PT’s & PharmD’s

1. Trente Steele “Not a lot of hope in PharmD field” – If you ask a physical therapist if its a good field to get into, they will always say yes. I feel bad for new students coming into pharmacy to be honest, not a lot of hope out there IMO unless you want to live in undesirable locations.

2. GoYo1010 “Go with what you see yourself doing” – If you like PT, then go for PT. If you know pharmacy will be miserable for you, then why pursue it? Yes, pharmacists make more than PTs on average, but like you, I could never see myself trade PT for Pharm.

3. Flare469728 “Go with what motivated you” – This is like comparing apples to oranges because PT and Pharm are entirely different professions. Pharmacy is all about drug interactions and PT is about rehabilitation of mostly musculoskeletal systems. Also, consider where your interests lie. PT might be easier in the long term finding a job,but make less money. Pharmacy is more saturated right now, but if you perfer working with drugs and their interaction in the body for research / dispensing drugs in a retail setting and / or clinical aspects in a hospitals I would suggest pharmacy. Far as patient interact Pharmacy is usually more limited because in a retail setting you can advise customers on their prescriptions and in a clinical setting you might talk with them more, but in PT you get hands on interaction. Make a list of pros and Cons of each profession and figure out where your heart lies. you need the motivation and drive to succeed in either of these professions. I advise against looking at either profession strictly for the salary and using that as a deciding factor. Also, my advice is to do either degree as cheaply as possible (especially PT, prestige of school doesn’t really matter here). Choose a pharmacy school by picking an accredited, well respected school with good networking connections in areas of pharmacy your interested in. Cost of a tuition does not indicate a better school. Good luck

4. CallMeCrazy “Go in field you enjoy” – Neither is easy but not enjoying the field will make either significantly harder. I know I wouldn’t cut it in pharm school because I despised every advanced chem course I’ve taken. I’m sure plenty of pharmacists feel the same about PT topics. There is a lot to be said for things coming easier when you take interest in what you are studying.

5. Azimuthal “Not retail Pharmacy” – I personally do not like the retail setting in Pharmacy, more so in retail chains like Safeway and Wal-Mart. The provider to patient relationship is more like a retailer to customer relationship in those settings. From what I have observed, I wouldn’t mind tearing some “customers” heads off, but I can’t. Most of my family are pharmacists or in school to become one. So in that respect, Pharmacy is harder for me.

6. OTWonnaBe “Leaning toward PT” – Well, I am the opposite as well. I have been thinking about OT but after shadowing and researching the tuition cost, I am leaning more towards PT. Most OTs don’t seem to enjoy their job. Cost for tuition for OT is almost similar to PT about $80,000 at schools closest to me (can’t relocate due to personal reasons). Yet PTs make about $10,000 more per year.

I curently make close to the starting pay of OT graduates, so I am wondering why in the world I would add $800 per month in student loan payments and end up being poorer than I am.

I am considering PT but I will do more research and calculations to make sure it is worth it financially. I have concluded that OT is not worth if financially for me. But your situation may be different.

I just visited one OT school today. This is the infor. I got:
Cost of two year program 75k-80k.
Average student is able to work only 16 hours a week.
Average starting salaries in St. Louis, MO–Hospitals $44,000, Long-term care $48,000 ,which everyone hates because you become more or less of a glorified CNA—wiping butts all day, community setting $30,000, school districts $40,000.

Those salaries are pretty disappointing.
Average monthly loan payment: $850 per month for 10 years, plus two years of tremendous stress.
This is pretty much what I am making right now with no student loans. I guess I would end up poorer as an OT. I was going for it simply for the diversity in employment opportunities and money as well.
Relocating is not an option due to family obligations.
I guess I will stick with what I got or go back to the drawing board for PT. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

7. SuperKirby “Choose Wisely” – nut shell: if you’re good at chem, do Pharm. If you’re good at physio and anat but CAN’T do Chem, do PT.

basically, if u can do O-chem, you’re gonna make some awesome money as a PharmD, OD, DDS, MD, etc…

sadly, PT’s are for those who can’t do the chem, but at the same time, PT is the BEST non o-chem profession EVER.

Bottom Line

Follow your passion if you are in love with medicine and want to help people out that way then go with getting your PharmD. Lately PharmD’s get a bad rap as far as job outlook, but all my friends still get jobs when they need them. I have lived in a couple different states so if you are willing to move you will have no issue. I would stay away from retail if possible, but not all retail is bad do your research.


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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