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Working in San Francisco As a Pharmacist

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What’s It Like to Work as a Pharmacist in San Francisco?

If you could work anywhere in the United States, many of us would choose to work in San Francisco. Home to University of California, a world-leading biomedical institution that includes multiple teaching hospitals, not to mention numerous medical groups and other prospective companies, San Francisco holds numerous opportunities for new and experienced pharmacists.

As a San Francisco resident, you’ll also have no shortage of things to do in your free time. You’re less than an hour from Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. You have the (chilly) Pacific Ocean nearby. And you have endless arts, fine dining, and recreational opportunities. What’s not to love?

Well, the sky-high cost of living is something to consider before you move. However, San Francisco has the highest-paying market for pharmacists according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to various resources, the average salary for pharmacists in San Francisco ranges from $144,000 to $167,000.

What kind of pharmacist jobs are available in San Francisco?

As a major metropolitan area, you’ll find everything from pharmacy tech jobs, to pharmacy director jobs to everything in between. Here’s a sampling of potential San Francisco pharmacy careers:

Pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians supply medications to patients, assemble medications for prescriptions and communicate with patients and healthcare professionals. A hospital pharmacy tech may prepare IV admixture, field calls into the pharmacy and restock medications, among other duties.

If you’re just starting out or need flexibility, you could take a traveling pharmacy tech job or pharmacy tech job that brings you in on an as-needed basis. Retail outlets often hire depending on needs. Some hospitals may, as well.

• Pharmacy manager. Pharmacy managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a pharmacy. They manage the ordering of medications and maintain records. They also oversee pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, as well as handle customer complaints. If you have experience as a pharmacist and have an interest in management, consider this career path.

Travel Pharmacy Manager. Do you want full-time benefits with the ability to travel around the United States? You may be a good fit for a travel pharmacy manager position. With a travel pharmacy position, you get to pick and choose when and where you want to work.

Travel pharmacy positions typically last about 13 weeks, but they can range anywhere form four to 20 weeks. Stay as busy as you want while working with a wide range of people and exploring new scenery.

• Clinical Pharmacist. With such an abundance of quality health systems in San Francisco, the city offers many exciting opportunities for clinical pharmacists. Instead of working in a pharmacy, clinical pharmacists work in medical centers, hospitals or health care units.

A clinical pharmacist determines the best medications for patients considering their symptoms and other health conditions. You can find both full-time permanent and temporary contract clinical pharmacist jobs in San Francisco.

Pharmacy Director. As the San Francisco Bay Area continues to grow, and its health systems grow with it, the need for experienced pharmacy directors becomes even more important. Pharmacy directors manage the daily operations of a hospital pharmacy. They work with nursing and administration on various hospital projects and serve as the voice of the pharmacy in executive meetings.

Pharmacy directors often work in permanent, full-time positions; however, many hospitals also need directors on an interim or contract basis. Traveling positions let you take pharmacy director jobs throughout California.

What kind of licensure do I need for a pharmacy job in San Francisco?

To get a California Pharmacy License and become a practicing pharmacist, you must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the California Practice Standards and Jurisprudence Examination for Pharmacists (CPJE). To become eligible to sit for these exams, the California State Board of Pharmacy must determine you have met all requirements for the exam.

What are those requirements? Along with required identification, such as a valid driver’s license and social security card, you must provide proof of the following:

• Graduate of a School of Pharmacy. The school must have an Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) program or be a school of pharmacy recognized by the board.


• Foreign Graduate of a School of Pharmacy. Here, you’ll need to show your Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) certificate issued by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

• At least 1,500 intern hours.

• Proof of license in another state, if applicable.

• A self-query report. You can request one at

• A fingerprint scan.

You can find complete information about the exam and licensure information on the California State Board of Pharmacy’s website.

To get a California pharmacy technician license, you must have earned at least an associate’s degree in pharmacy technology. Like a pharmacist, it must be from an ACPE-accredited program or otherwise recognized by the California Board of Pharmacy. You must also become certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

If you become licensed in California and decide to move to another state, know that not all states offer reciprocity with California. Reciprocity means you can transfer your existing license to one or more states or jurisdictions. Check with that state’s board of pharmacy to find out its requirements.

With its gorgeous scenery, amazing food, and endless opportunities for fun, it’s no wonder San Francisco tops our list of best cities for pharmacists.

To find your perfect job in your “dream city,” browse our latest job opportunities.

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Contributor Kimberly Anders

As the Division Director of pharmacy, allied and healthcare IT recruitment for Soliant, Kimberly brings over 14 years of success in all aspects of the staffing industry to lead operations for a highly recognized and respected brand in pharmacy recruitment. Upon walking into a temporary staffing office, to find part-time work around a college schedule, Kimberly was fixated on developing a career in the recruiting industry. The following 20 years in the profession have provided her the perfect livelihood, a platform to guide, educate and coach talented individuals to fulfilling new jobs. Kimberly is experienced working with pharmacies and pharmacy professionals in large health systems, rural inpatient hospitals, home infusion, ambulatory care, long term care, mail order, retail, PBM and specialty settings across the country. Make sure to check out the rest of her blogs!