A pharmacist's responsibility for providing patients with high-quality pharmaceutical care extends beyond the human species. Although colleges of pharmacy and licensing boards have focused almost exclusively on human pharmacotherapy, society and regulatory agencies expect an equally competent quality of pharmaceutical care and products to be provided for non-human family members and livestock. Veterinarians are well-schooled in providing quality care and products to animal patients, but few pharmacists are. Any pharmacist encountering veterinary patients, should be equipped with a working knowledge of veterinary pharmacotherapy and develop a clinically and legally sound algorithm for processing veterinary prescriptions.
A veterinary pharmacist dispenses drugs intended for animal use and provide information to clients with regard to dosage and safety concerns. Veterinary pharmacists also provide consultations on dosage and side effects, providing compounding services, ensuring that all regulatory directives are properly followed, taking inventory, and supervising pharmacy technicians or other support staff members. Those working in academic settings may be involved with teaching classes for veterinary students. Those working in regulatory roles may be involved with testing, research, education, and enforcement.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have a category for veterinary pharmacists, but it does include them in the more general category of all pharmacists. The median annual salary for pharmacists was $116,670 ($56.09 per hour) in the most recent survey results (May of 2012). The lowest paid 10 percent of pharmacists earned less than $89,000 per year ($42.79 per hour) while the highest paid 10 percent of pharmacists earned more than $147,350 per year ($70.84 per hour).
The field of veterinary pharmacy is relatively new and is continuing to expand each year. The BLS reports that job growth for the category of all pharmacists is expected to grow at a rate of 14 percent over the decade from 2012 to 2022. This rate of growth is approximately the same as the average for all professions surveyed. Veterinary pharmacists with significant education and experience will continue to enjoy the best job prospects in the field.