How do I become a Pharmacist?

Are you thinking of becoming a pharmacist? It does take a substantial amount of formal education, however, the rewards will outweigh your hard work, no doubt. You will be responsible for making a substantial difference in someone’s health and well-being. At some point in every consumer’s life, we must all be dependent on hard-working and well educated people to fulfill the role of pharmacist to assure and to administer effective and safe healthcare. As you consider the long educational journey needed to obtain your online doctorate degree in pharmacy, the PharmD degree, please consider the dedication and compassion required to care for your customers in order to perform your career as a pharmacist.

A pharmacist is responsible for the distribution of prescription drugs to patients, as well as, the education of medication side effects and their uses. They also educate patients on illness and disease prevention, all while working closely with consulting physicians. You’ll most likely work in a drugstore, hospital or other healthcare facility. Pharmacists are required to hold a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree and be licensed in the state in which you practice. Please be sure to check your state to verify license requirements.

While considering a career as a pharmacist, first, you should decide which pharmacy degree is best for you. Although somewhat similar in coursework, the PharmD degree and the PhD degree are each required for different careers. You may choose an online doctorate degree in pharmacy, the PharmD degree, which is required to be a pharmacist or a PhD degree which is generally related to positions in the academic world or in pharmaceutical research.  Also,  you may choose to combine both degrees if you have an interest in research and would like to practice as a pharmacists.

There are several steps on your road to becoming a pharmacist. You may start by obtaining your online bachelor’s degree, preferably a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree with an accredited school offering at least two years of pre-pharmacy or related courses. Such classes may include anatomy, calculus, chemistry, biology, humanities, physics and sociology. However, some pharmacy schools just require that you take the necessary pre-requisite classes, not necessarily by obtaining a bachelor’s degree, in order to apply to their school. These classes provide a firm foundation for advanced pharmacy classes.

Next, after obtaining your bachelor’s degree, you must then enter a pharmacy doctorate degree program, therefore, you will need to pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) which is a standard four-hour admission test with roughly 232 questions in the categories of writing, reading comprehension, verbal ability, chemistry, quantitative ability and biology.

PharmD programs typically take four years to complete. The coursework may include medicinal chemistry, biopharmaceuticals, pathophysiology, patient care, pharmacy ethics and law, toxicology, drug absorption rates and disease treatments. These courses will prepare you for the scientific and the technical aspects of patient care as a pharmacist.

Most PharmD programs provide opportunities for clinical training in their curriculum. While applying what you’ve learned in the classroom, you can gain practical experience under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Some programs provide specialized training in a specific area such as geriatrics or pharmacology.

Upon graduation of the PharmD program, you must then obtain your license to begin your career. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination is given by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Also, most states require an additional exam be administered called the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination. This exam covers federal and state laws within the pharmacy realm. Other requirements may include a criminal background check.

Once licensed, you may choose to perform your duties as a pharmacist in your community, government or a consulting pharmacy. The average median salary for a pharmacist ranges between $121,500 – $150,550 or more per year, depending on experience and location. Check out our picks of the Top 3 Online Schools for Doctor of Pharmacy!