While pharmacists and anesthesiologists are both highly paid medical professionals, their jobs are very different. Pharmacists do not treat patients; instead, they prepare medications that have been prescribed by physicians, dentists or other medical professionals. Anesthesiologists are physician specialists responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring patients who are preparing to undergo surgery.
Pharmacist Job and Work Environment
Pharmacists work almost exclusively in drug dispensaries called pharmacies, but pharmacies appear in several types of locations. For example, most large hospitals have their own pharmacies, but pharmacies are also contained in freestanding drug stores, grocery stores and department stores. On the job, pharmacists fill and dispense prescription drugs, making sure to give patients the exact dose and number of pills prescribed. In addition to filling prescriptions, pharmacists also spend time interacting with customers; many states legally require that pharmacists verbally ensure that patients understand how to use their medication. Pharmacists also oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and may perform administrative tasks, such as answering the phone, taking down prescriptions and taking payments from customers.
Anesthesiologist Job and Work Environment
Anesthesiologists work in surgical units, primarily in general hospitals and in the offices of physicians. However, some find employment in the offices of dentists or in the labor and delivery or critical care units of hospitals. Before surgeries, anesthesiologists consult with patients and physicians to decide on the best type of anesthesia to administer and explain the procedure to the patient. Once anesthesia has been administered, anesthesiologists monitor the patient's response during surgery and afterward. Anesthesiologists also help patients manage their pain following surgery.
To become a pharmacist, you need Doctor of Pharmacy degree, sometimes called a Pharm.D. degree. This usually takes between 7 and 8 years of college -- a premedical bachelor's degree and between 3 and 4 years to complete the Pharm.D. While becoming a pharmacist requires many years of study, a career as an anesthesiologist requires even more. Anesthesiologists first take 4 years of premedical school, followed by 4 years of medical school, followed by 4 years of specialized education and training.
Differences in Pay
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacists were very well-paid as of 2012. The average pay for a pharmacist was $114,950 per year, well above the national average for all American workers. However, anesthesiologists earned significantly more, perhaps because they need several more years of education and training. As of 2012, the BLS reports that anesthesiologists earn an average of $232,830 per year.