Nuclear Pharmacy: A Deep Dive into the Role, Responsibilities, and Rewarding Salaries

6 min

Although relatively new in the field of medicine, nuclear pharmacy has made significant stri...

Although relatively new in the field of medicine, nuclear pharmacy has made significant strides in the last 50 years. Nuclear pharmacy is a specialty area of pharmacy practice that involves compounding, preparing, and distributing radioactive materials for use in nuclear medicine procedures. As a specialty pharmacy practice, it offers a rewarding career as a nuclear pharmacist. Discover the rewarding world of nuclear pharmacy and learn about the roles, salaries, and training required to excel in this niche field in this article. Read on!

What is a Nuclear Pharmacist? Understanding the Basics

A nuclear pharmacist (formerly known as a radiopharmacist) is someone who specializes in preparing and distributing radiopharmaceuticals or radioactive drugs that are used in nuclear medicine tests and procedures.

The difference between traditional and nuclear pharmacists is in the type of prescriptions they prepare and dispense. A traditional pharmacist deals directly with the patient, dispensing their prescribed medications to them. A nuclear pharmacist, on the other hand, prepares and distributes radioactive drugs to a hospital’s nuclear medicine department and not to the patient directly. It is a radiologist who will then give the drugs to the intended person as part of the treatment procedure.

Since their job involves handling highly specialized medication, nuclear pharmacists undergo extensive training in radiation safety and the handling of radioactive materials.

How to Become a Nuclear Pharmacist: Training and Certification

That said, a nuclear pharmacist is always in high demand as these are very niche specializations and call for a more refined degree of expertise and skill than the traditional pharmacist roles.

So, how does one become a nuclear pharmacist?

To become a nuclear pharmacist, a person must complete training in basic areas of radiation physics and instrumentation, radiation protection, radiation biology, math related to radioactivity decay, and radiopharmaceutical chemistry.

That’s not all. In addition to academic training, practical training in a nuclear pharmacy is mandatory. To become a Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist® (BCNP), a pharmacist must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Graduate from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or a program outside the U.S. that qualifies that individual to practice in that jurisdiction (foreign-trained pharmacists have to pass the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee examination).

  • Have a current, active license to practice pharmacy in the U.S. or another jurisdiction.

  • Complete up to 4,000 hours of experience in nuclear pharmacy, including a residency accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP); an internship to satisfy the requirements of state boards of pharmacy; and experience in a nuclear practice in a licensed nuclear pharmacy or health care facility (up to 2,000 of the 4,000 required hours can be academic hours, including undergraduate or graduate courses in nuclear pharmacy, an MS or PhD program in nuclear pharmacy, and/or successful completion of a nuclear pharmacy certificate program).

  • Achieve a passing score on the BPS Nuclear Pharmacy Certification Examination.

Exploring Nuclear Pharmacist Jobs: Opportunities and Growth

As specialists, nuclear pharmacists deal with the preparation of radioactive materials to improve and promote health through the safe and effective use of radioactive drugs. So, while becoming a traditional pharmacist is fairly easy, becoming a nuclear pharmacist calls for special skills, knowledge, and aptitude.

That said, nuclear pharmacy offers exciting job prospects and growth opportunities, provided the person is willing to meet the high demands of this specialty pharmacy. However, those who are strong in math and science, especially physics, are more suited for nuclear pharmacy jobs.

Let’s explore the nuclear pharmacist jobs, the areas of work, and the nuclear pharmacist salary that one can look forward to in this domain.

Salary of a nuclear pharmacist

The salary for a nuclear pharmacist varies, depending on location, experience, certifications, and other skills. A nuclear pharmacist in the U.S., according to, can expect an average salary of $154,817 (as of April 2024).

Where do nuclear pharmacists work?

Nuclear pharmacists work in different healthcare settings such as:

  • Hospitals

  • Nuclear pharmacies

  • Medical schools

  • Government and private research institutes

Most nuclear pharmacists, whether hospital-based or commercial, practice in a laboratory environment. This is because the radiopharmaceuticals need to be prepared, tested, and shipped so that they are ready to administer when a patient arrives for a study. Since radiopharmaceuticals must be available 24/7 for emergencies, a nuclear pharmacist is on-call at times. As such, most nuclear pharmacies open early in the morning, with one or more nuclear pharmacists working the “early shift” usually beginning at midnight.

The job outlook for nuclear pharmacy

The job prospects for a nuclear pharmacist are good but it is a highly competitive field and the person must be willing to put in long hours, be flexible for all kinds of shift hours, and be ready to relocate, if necessary. 

Become a nuclear pharmacist with Quad Recruitment

Ready to kick start your career as a nuclear pharmacist? Although it is a highly competitive field, the rewards are enormous, both in terms of financial growth and career advancement. It also helps if you leverage the expertise of seasoned recruitment agencies like Quad Recruitment USA to help you elbow out the competition and land your dream nuclear pharmacy job in a reputed pharmacy. Quad Recruitment is the USA’s leading pharmacy staffing agency that helps connect the right skills with the right employers. So, your wait for that coveted nuclear pharmacy job is over. Contact us today!