Legal Professions for Pharmacy Degree Holders

Explore new career options that put your pharmacy degree, experience, and background to use.

A pharmacy degree provides many opportunities within the profession, including positions in hospital, retail, and industrial workplaces. But some pharmacists may not realize that the same degree opens doors to different areas that can be just as gratifying.

In my 15 years as a pharmacist, I have enjoyed traditional roles in pharmacy management and operations, but as my career has transitioned, I have found other areas just as exciting.

Here are some legal professions to explore:

Patent Agent

If you are currently a pharmacist, then you may be an ideal candidate to become a patent agent, which involves crafting patents for new or enhanced inventions from individuals or companies.

Intellectual property is a thriving area, allowing scientists—including pharmacists—to prosecute patents within the United States.

Pharmacists can also be useful in creating patents for pharmaceutical companies that develop new drugs or enhance current ones. Filing a patent along with FDA approval through clinical trials are steps in the process of bringing new drugs to the market.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows select candidates to apply and sit for the patent exam. To see whether you qualify to take the patent exam, go to the USPTO website and search for the Registration Examination page for more details under the General Requirement bulletin.

For pharmacists, science classes taken during pharmacy school would be used to qualify for the exam. I qualified under Category B and had to provide my transcripts and course descriptions to sit for the exam. Additional training is required to teach candidates about the USPTO and Patent Exam process.

The Patent Bar is not easy, but it is worth passing. Becoming a registered patent agent allows you to enjoy patent opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry or prosecute patents for inventors’ extra income. Once registered, practitioners can prosecute and file patents for all types regardless of subject matter.

Compliance Officer

Compliance is one of the hottest areas in health care. Compliance officers are responsible for health care entities, including hospitals and pharmacies, to adhere to state and federal laws in concurrence with internal policies and procedures.

Compliance officers are usually not working within the pharmacy, but in an outside department that oversees all auxiliary departments, including pharmacy, laboratory, billing, and administration.

With your pharmacy background, more training would be required to become a Certified Compliance Officer. This training would encompass pertinent legal areas including fraud and abuse, the Sunshine Act, and billing and coding.

The Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) provide national certifications in health care compliance. Online training from Healthcare Compliance Education Prep allows candidates to prepare for the certification exams offered by the HCCA and AAPC.

If you have any general questions regarding these professions, please feel free to contact me at