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Career Change to Pharmacy?
Old 06-14-2007, 06:06 PM   #1
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Career Change to Pharmacy?

I am 32 and a chemical engineer that is on track to retire at 50. I am thinking about going back to school for Pharmacy (3 years) weekend only program so I can do this while working. The thought was that should I want to work part-time past 50 (especially if it works out I can retire sooner) this would be easier to do as a Pharmacist than a ChemE.

Anyone out there a Pharmacist? Do you like it or does it suck?

Any ChemE's with part-time jobs out there in semi-retirement?
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Old 06-14-2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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I'm an analytical chemist and set to retire June 29th. I have also pondered working in a pharmacy but as a tech, not a pharmacist. If I work in my retirement it will have to be low stress. I don't think pharmacists have low stress jobs. There is a ton of responsibility with dispensing drugs. I'm a certified drug agent at my current position and the paperwork for controlled drugs is a nightmare. I assume it's the same for a pharmacist....don't want any part of that. They can cart your arse off to jail if your paperwork ain't correct.
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:29 PM   #3
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From what I've read and heard, there's a definite need for pharmacists, so you shouldn't have problems finding parttime work. Personally, I'd think the biggest hazard in a retail environment would be robbery.
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Old 06-15-2007, 08:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by cpolashenski View Post
I am 32 and a chemical engineer that is on track to retire at 50. I am thinking about going back to school for Pharmacy (3 years) weekend only program so I can do this while working. The thought was that should I want to work part-time past 50 (especially if it works out I can retire sooner) this would be easier to do as a Pharmacist than a ChemE.

While you may be correct with the ease of finding part-time work, don't look at how much time/energy/money it will be to simply become a pharmacist. How much is the pharmacy school going to run? Compare that with simply investing it in an index fund for 18 years, then withdrawing 4%....and/or, trying to get a part-time job now for 3 years (instead of going to school) that will add to the stash, invested for 18 years, and so forth.
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Old 06-15-2007, 09:49 AM   #5
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While you may be correct with the ease of finding part-time work, don't look at how much time/energy/money it will be to simply become a pharmacist. How much is the pharmacy school going to run? Compare that with simply investing it in an index fund for 18 years, then withdrawing 4%....and/or, trying to get a part-time job now for 3 years (instead of going to school) that will add to the stash, invested for 18 years, and so forth.
I agree...if you factor in the cost of school and training, why not start a side business....even working at home depot or the like probably would probably put you ahead with maybe a retail discount...
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Old 06-15-2007, 10:48 AM   #6
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Interesting sidelight is that around here anyway many of the pharmacists at chain stores seem to be attractive young Asian women with accents.

To me it looks like an amazing easy job for very good pay. But for someone who has been an engineer, and liked it, dispensing pills could be an overwhelmingly boring way to spend the day or evening.

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Old 06-15-2007, 11:53 AM   #7
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Don't Chemical Engineers make A LOT more money than Pharmacists?
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:21 PM   #8
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ChemE's make a lot more than other professions (BS degree) right out of college but after 5-10 years other professions catch up or pass. I don't know what pharmacists make but if you compare the 2 on salary.com, pharmacists make about 100-105k; ChemE's about 70-80k.

If I had it to do all over again I would be a lawyer, accountant, doctor, pharmacist, just about anything else.
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:35 PM   #9
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Don't Chemical Engineers make A LOT more money than Pharmacists?
It all depends on competency. There certainly is more potential to make more money as a chemical engineer. Average starting salaries with a bachelor's degree are above $50k, experienced technical management (again BS) can easily be in six figures. Advanced degrees increase these numbers by quite a bit.


To the OP:

It probably doesn't make a lot of sense to take the courses unless you seriously dislike your job as an engineer. At the age of 50, you should be at peak earnings; living a moderate lifestyle could allow you, each year, to save enough to be equivalent to multiple years of part-time pharmaceutical work.

In addition, for several years while taking courses, you have cash outflow and little free time. I think you seriously need to examine both quality of life and expected cashflows. You may find that working two extra years in your first discipline is more rewarding in both regards.

Or, of course, you could always take the engineering background and do part-time or project specific consulting work with the previous full-time employer.
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by FancyBear View Post
ChemE's make a lot more than other professions (BS degree) right out of college but after 5-10 years other professions catch up or pass. I don't know what pharmacists make but if you compare the 2 on salary.com, pharmacists make about 100-105k; ChemE's about 70-80k.
I have no idea where salary.com gets the data. I don't trust their numbers.

Are you a Chemical Engineer (CE)? How long have you been working? 70-80K sounds to me like a CE with about 3 years of experience. Don't know if it's still true, but CEs used to make more money than all other engineers. I really doubt a CE would make less than a pharmacist, given the same number of experience.
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:40 PM   #11
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I have no idea where salary.com gets the data. I don't trust their numbers.

Are you a Chemical Engineer (CE)? How long have you been working? 70-80K sounds to me like a CE with about 3 years of experience. Don't know if it's still true, but CEs used to make more money than all other engineers. I really doubt a CE would make less than a pharmacist, given the same number of experience.
I am seriously doing something wrong! I have 10 years experience, a Masters Degree in ChemE plus management experience. My salary is at the very low end of that range. I think I may cry.

Where are you getting your info?
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:43 PM   #12
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:56 PM   #13
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The starting salary for a Chemical Engineer (CN, let's use the correct abbreviation) is around 56K. Engineer usually gets around 10% raise each year for the first few years. So after 3 raises, that CN should be at 74K.

Even Salary.com (which I don't really believe) list 100K for a CN IV, which I think is where you are or should be, given your years and degree.

Anyway, I have a few friends who are CNs with around 20 years of experience. Their salary is in the low to mid 100's.
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Old 06-15-2007, 06:21 PM   #14
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FancyBear, I did not mean to make you feel bad. May be you should just ignore my comments. Consider them inacurate or invalid. Sorry about that.
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Old 06-15-2007, 11:50 PM   #15
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I am seriously doing something wrong! I have 10 years experience, a Masters Degree in ChemE plus management experience. My salary is at the very low end of that range. I think I may cry.

Where are you getting your info?
Specific field and geographic location make a big difference, too. Someone working for an oil company in NJ is going to be making a lot more than someone on a production line in a small town in the midwest. That smaller salary may also still allow a better quality of life in a less expensive area of the country.
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Old 06-16-2007, 02:14 AM   #16
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I am a pharmacist, have a few comments based on what I read on this thread.

Quote:
pharmacists make about 100-105k
This depends. Hospital pharmacy is probably about that, or slightly lower. Retail (ie walgreens) folks make at least that much, and between the mandatory overtime and bonuses, etc.. $110-115k is doable. I can't comment on other subareas like industry, academia, long-term care, nuclear pharmacy, etc.

Quote:
To me it looks like an amazing easy job for very good pay. But for someone who has been an engineer, and liked it, dispensing pills could be an overwhelmingly boring way to spend the day or evening.
Going to assume two things: You say that in jest, and you know nothing about the profession. In many cases, pharmacists are the only safety net preventing your doctor from killing you. In addition, we are seriously responsible for keeping a lid on drug costs.. You would not believe the number of interventions pharmacists make dozens of times a day and how much money this saves the system, as well as patient's well-being.

Quote:
I am thinking about going back to school for Pharmacy (3 years) weekend only program so I can do this while working.
I can hardly believe this is possible. First, there is no such thing as a part-time pharmacy program, and since you have no choice but to be a pharmD, there are not any programs shorter than 4 years, full-time. Doublecheck your claims. Not only that, most programs require either a 4 year degree (which you are more than covered by), or a litany of science/math courses to weed out the noncontenders.

Quote:
I don't think pharmacists have low stress jobs. There is a ton of responsibility with dispensing drugs. I'm a certified drug agent at my current position and the paperwork for controlled drugs is a nightmare. I assume it's the same for a pharmacist....don't want any part of that. They can cart your arse off to jail if your paperwork ain't correct.
Honestly, it depends. I've practiced in two settings, and there are many more I know little about. When you hear the word 'pharmacist', you only think of one thing.. the retail pharmacist behind the counter. There are MANY other opportunities out there with this degree. I am now an informatics pharmacist in a hospital - I deal with healthcare IT, implementing and maintaining our electronic medical record system, helping design a bedside barcode medication system, and lots more.

You are correct about the regulatory aspect - its a blinding mess, especially on the hospital side. Not so on the retail side.. there its pretty much making sure you have all the oxycontin you are supposed to. That being said, regulatory compliance is not the main cause of stress.. its the requirement to handle maddening volumes of prescriptions because the reimbursement is so crappy that you need to really crank the volume. I considered buying a pharmacy (independent) when I graduated... thank God I didn't.

Take my advice for what its worth.. I actually wouldn't recommend doing this just for money. The 4-year program is going to cost you at least $50k just for the school, and like I said - doublecheck on the full-time thing. Its pretty hard to work while attending school also. I managed half-time, working as an intern in a pharmacy, which helped a lot with staying sharp at school. I'll be honest - its a daunting program. We had many weeks with 2-3 difficult exams per week. Its a huge commitment.

I don't regret it - I am only 27, making decent money which is enabling me to invest lots for the 'early retirement' plan. I'd think long and hard before doing it - if you don't hate life every morning perhaps what you need is to do some market salary analysis and make a job move. Anyway, if you have more questions about the profession I'd be happy to answer what I can.
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Old 06-16-2007, 06:06 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by cpolashenski View Post
I am 32 and a chemical engineer that is on track to retire at 50. I am thinking about going back to school for Pharmacy (3 years) weekend only program so I can do this while working. The thought was that should I want to work part-time past 50 (especially if it works out I can retire sooner) this would be easier to do as a Pharmacist than a ChemE.

Anyone out there a Pharmacist? Do you like it or does it suck?

Any ChemE's with part-time jobs out there in semi-retirement?
I'm 34 and a pharmacist for 9 years. I didn't really know what being a pharmacist entailed when I started pharmacy school. (Hmmm...my first post and so far not sounding too smart.) I chose the professional because it was the fastest way to earn a doctorate, make a decent salary and work part-time later. Good thing I like being a pharmacist. People are generally very nice to you. Is it easy to find a part-time job. No shortage there. I could probably work 16hrs/wk forever as long as my health is good.

I can only speak for the retail pharmacy setting. The average salary is $120,000/year in Southern CA not including bonuses or overtime. What sucks about being a pharmacist is the schedule. It's all over the place. Weekends, evenings, holidays - no 9-5 unless you're really lucky. The hefty student loans suck too. $20,000/year for 4 years for tuition alone. But sometimes I can't believe I get paid my salary to do what I do.

When someone tells me they want to go into pharmacy I always ask "Are you suuuure???" The salary is good but there's a lot more to pharmacy than most people think.

I searched the internet and there is a weekend doctor of pharmacy program in PA. It's probably the same one you're referring to since it's the only weekend program available. That must be so intense. I can't imagine. You meet on-site on weekends. It mentions distance learning technologies. Does that mean online courses during the weekday? Third year is dedicated to rotations during the week. I'm sure that's every weekday 8 hours a day. How will you manage that? And you'll probably need to do an internship during school. But before you can even apply, you'll have to complete the pre-requisites. I'm not sure I would change from a chemical engineer to a pharmacist just to be able to work part-time later. It would be different if you didn't have a good job and you wanted to go into pharmacy. There must be a way to work part-time as a chemical engineer without undergoing such a drastic change. Especially if you're on track to retire at 50. How many years would it shave off if things work out?

Funny thought: when I first started investing I thought I should have been an engineer because I could make a decent salary right out of college, start my early retirement fund earlier and not be held back by so much student loans.
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Old 06-16-2007, 12:04 PM   #18
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Going to assume two things: You say that in jest, and you know nothing about the profession. In many cases, pharmacists are the only safety net preventing your doctor from killing you. In addition, we are seriously responsible for keeping a lid on drug costs.. You would not believe the number of interventions pharmacists make dozens of times a day and how much money this saves the system, as well as patient's well-being.
No, I know what I need to know about pharmacy to say that it appears to be overwhelmingly boring; and I did not say it in jest. Remember I didn't say it would likely be boring to anyone, only to an engineer or similar person who had experienced a more creative design-oriented job.

Realize that this does not disrespect how important pharmacy may be or what immense social contributions pharmacists might make.

Bus drivers also hold people's lives in their hands but many of us might find this to be a boring job. I was a life guard and I had all day responsibility for people’s lives. It required constant wearing attention. Still it was really boring.

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Old 06-16-2007, 12:18 PM   #19
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I'm 34 and a pharmacist for 9 years.
Welcome seasurf - I'm just curious about this profession. Maybe you could fill me in?

If the pay is good, but the schedules suck - couldn't someone offer to work for a lower wage for better hours?

Quote:
But sometimes I can't believe I get paid my salary to do what I do.
That kind of statement always makes we wonder if there is a future to this career. At some point, won't businesses be wondering the same thing? I'm ignorant about what the job actually involves, but it seems to me much of it can be (should be? Is being?) computerized. Can the job be done by a person with less education, but supplemented with a computer program/database/crosschecks and maybe an actual pharmacist available for consultation (by phone, on-line conference, or one for ten subordinates?)?

Quote:
When someone tells me they want to go into pharmacy I always ask "Are you suuuure" The salary is good but there's a lot more to pharmacy than most people think.
So, what is involved - I admit I don't understand it. Is it something you can summarize in a post? My impression is that the training is to watch for drug interactions, verify that the med and dosage seems appropriate - those two things I would actually prefer to trust to a well designed computer system than to a variety of humans, some of which may not be fully 'on-task' on a particular day. There is probably much more to it that I just don't know about.

To the OP - wow, this seems like a lot of work for the chance to gain some flexibility in retirement. Giving up weekends now might not be a good trade-off, quality of life-wise. I'd think long/hard about it. There must be part-time/consulting gigs for Chem Engineers? It might be a lot less effort to work on establishing those connections than to study for a different career - just a thought.

-ERD50
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Old 06-16-2007, 01:28 PM   #20
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I am a ChE (somebody calls us 'CNs') with over 30 years experience. I have been a manager (don't like it) and prefer to be purely technical in design. I can get away with that these days.

These days, I am a contractor working for an engineering company in Canada, making about $170k US, but I pay high taxes and have high expenses as I have to work far away from home. I could make more if I incorporated but there would be more paperwork and more expenses and I like things simple. If I went staff, I personally could make about $120k tops. In this business we have limited choices of where to work in the world. I would have to go to Houston to make that kind of $ in the US and we don't want to do that right now. It is an on-and-off business and subject to booms and busts. I was once out of work for 5 months straight. I can generally find work when no-one else can because I network like crazy, have wide experience and a willingness to go places others don't want to go. I have enjoyed the travel, the stimulating work and the people (with a few notable exceptions). I am also away from home a lot. The big money is probably working for an oil company but I haven't found one yet that wasn't full of major a**holes and I am too old to put up with that.

I think pharmacy would be a much more stable career. It looks like you can live and work just about anywhere in the country and stay as long as you like.

This is just my experience. YMMV. By the way, my son says that having seen how I have to live and work, he has no interest in this business.

Now you know why I sign myself...

Gypsy
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