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Pharmacist Careers: How to Become a Pharmacist….

If you’ve ever been sick, you’ve likely counted on the expertise of a pharmacist to help you decide on the best over-the-counter medication to stop your symptoms—and you’ve most certainly counted on them to vet and fulfill prescriptions from your doctor. Pharmacists, then, have an important role in our health and healthcare system. And if you’d like to fulfill this important role, here’s everything you need to know about working as a pharmacist.

What Does a Pharmacist Do?

A pharmacist’s primary role, of course, is to review instructions from physicians and then dispense medications accordingly. But they also offer expertise in the safe use of those prescriptions, can advise on over-the-counter and vitamin options, can provide health screenings, vaccinations, and just overall help people live healthier lifestyles.

Put another way, a pharmacist is responsible for doing everything from checking whether a prescription will have a bad effect with other medications you’re taking to giving flu shots.

How to Become a Pharmacist

There are many steps to becoming a pharmacist. Here are the essential ones you’ll have to take:

1. Complete an undergraduate program. You’ll need a doctoral degree to work as a pharmacist, but before you can get it, you’ll need to complete an undergraduate program. While doctoral admission requirements may vary based on the university, most programs “require applicants to take postsecondary courses such as chemistry, biology, and physics,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test). The PCAT is a standardized test all prospective pharmacy school students must take and pass before getting their next degree. It’s offered each year in January, July and September, and takes about four hours.

3. Get a doctoral degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “pharmacists are required to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, a postgraduate professional degree.” (You can find a list of accredited Doctor of Pharmacy programs at this link.) Most universities’ Doctor of Pharmacy programs will take three to four years to complete.

4. Complete a residency or training. “If you would like an advanced position, such as a clinical pharmacy or research job, may need to complete a one- to two-year residency,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, you may want to specialize in an area — such as internal or geriatric medicine — which can require additional training.

5. Get certified and licensed. Every state licenses its pharmacists, and you will need to pass additional exams to get those licenses. Those exams include the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which tests pharmacy skills and knowledge, and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which is a state-specific test on pharmacy law. Additionally, if you would like a job that will require you to administer vaccines, you will need to get certified in vaccinations and immunizations.

How to Become a Pharmacist

How Much Does a Pharmacist Make?

Pharmacists’ salaries may range depending on where they work. But on average, according to Glassdoor data, pharmacists earn $127,516 each year. According to the data, the highest salaries go to hospital and staff pharmacists, while retail pharmacists can earn $119,000.

How Much Does a Pharmacist Make?

Pharmacist Job Market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates employment for pharmacists will grow by 5.6 percent between 2018 and 2026, which is a slower rate of growth than the estimated 7.4 percent for all jobs. Other areas of pharmacology are expected to experience higher growth rates, though: 11.8 percent for pharmacy technicians and 19.4 percent for pharmacy aides.

Pharmacist Job Market

Where Do Pharmacist Work?

Pharmacists can work in a variety of medical, retail, administrative and academic settings. Those might include:

  • Retail pharmacies
  • Hospital pharmacies
  • Extended care facilities
  • Nuclear pharmacies
  • Infusion centers
  • Compounding pharmacies
  • Administration
  • Academic research
  • Pharmaceutical development and marketing
  • Food and beverage stores
  • General merchandise stores



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