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Tips On How To Become A Pharmacist?

Pharmacist careers are on demand and the jobs in pharmacy sector is expected to increase by 25% between 2010 and 2020. If you are planning for pharmacist career then, you have a lot of opportunities to begin with. But, to start the career you must know how to become a pharmacist. The article discusses building your career as a pharmacist and the career opportunities for a pharmacist.

How To Become A Pharmacist?

How To Become A Pharmacist

To become a pharmacist, it is necessary for you to possess formal education for few years and additionally training to obtain the essential skills and knowledge along with certification. Prospective pharmacists can dedicate six years in the case of fast-track or a good amount of thirteen years in completing the pre-requisites like the Pharm.D course, national exams, and clinical rotations. By pursuing these courses and examinations, you will reach your goal directly. However, there are few critical aspects one must know when choosing pharmacy as their career. Say, for instance, is bachelor’s degree essential to pursue a pharmacist career. And can you transfer your pharmacy license to another state? If you cannot pass the NAPLEX so what next?

The article gives you clear insight regarding your desired path. As you read, you will unleash the other path to attain your goal. Let us first see what a pharmacist do to know how to become one.

What A Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacist distributes the necessary medication and approved remedies. And follow the patient visit to a doctor. The pharmacist requires understanding of chemical reactions, allergens, required dosage, regulation and manage assistants in the area. Pharmacists also should possess knowledge of safety and public health. And also the pharmacist should ensure that everybody under their supervision should meet the safety protocol regarding the distribution of medicine and storage. Drugstores, hospitals or private businesses employ pharmacist.

The pharmacist must possess analytical thinking and must know complete detail regarding the pharmacy organization with accuracy. Communication is one more pre-requisite as pharmacists you are required to explain clearly and step by step involved in the medication and to regard preventing probable side effects to the patient. Computer skills are required to computerize the health records and managerial skills to manage the staff and guide them in a right direction.

To Become A Pharmacist

Step 1: Pre-Requisite Course For 2 to 4 Years

The probable pharmacists have to pursue their pre-requisite course in any of the laboratory sciences preferably chemistry and biology. By pursuing these courses at the undergraduate level, it helps you in great deal to pursue your pharmacology studies during your graduation. Students looking forward to Pharm.D program can choose between multiple options to pursue laboratory science course.

  • Most of the colleges have designed a two-year laboratory course to help the students to fulfill the required two-year course to get into Pharm.D. Additionally, these courses are designed to help the students with Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) following the university requirements.
  • Earning a Bachelor’s degree in any of the laboratory science gives flexibility to the students to choose between many options post-graduation. The lab-related course helps students to get into Pharm.D program. Additionally, students find more time to prepare for PCAT.

You can get into the Pharm.D course in case you choose any of the below subjects during your academics:

  • Biochemistry for Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • General Physics
  • Fundamentals of Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pharmacy Orientation
  • Immunology

Pursuing Pharm.D (Degree Course)

Completing your Doctor of Pharmacy or Pharm.D is the first step towards your career as a pharmacist. You will take four years to complete the course. In the first year of your course, you will learn reading and understanding the dosage forms, basics of trade, pharmacy ethics and laws, counseling the patients, diagnostics, working with doctors, drug action, pathophysiology, and pharmacy calculations.

During your second and third year, you will concentrate on advanced principles as a continuation of the first year. And the course is also subjected to areas like biostatistics, pharmacotherapy, initial clinical rotation steps, institutional pharmacy (IPPE), and health management. The pharmacist students in their second and third year should hone themselves on a pharmaceutical specialty where they are likely to work after the graduation.

Fourth-year is about the practical experiences. You are sent to clinical rotations to acquire practical knowledge and experience. The practical includes communicating with the patient, recommending variations in medication if required, guiding the staff to help them assist their community members and customers. You are likely to perform between seven and ten rotations lasting around four or six weeks.

Obtain National License

A pharmacy student requires a license to practice. To obtain a license, the student is required to clear one or more exams. North American Pharmacist Licensing Exam (NAPLEX) is the primary test with 185 questions to analyze your knowledge on practicing pharmacy. To be precise, NAPLEX analyze the following:

  • Your ability to identify safe pharmacotherapy and positive standards of pharmacotherapy
  • Your ability to optimize the therapeutic and medical outcomes
  • Your ability to dispense medications accurately and safely
  • Your ability to educate patients on finest healthcare

The majority of the students are licensed pharmacist once they get through the NAPLEX. However, in few states students are required to clear Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination or MPJE to obtain the license. The MPJE is a 90 question test for two hours to gauge the student in pharmacy law.

Students graduating from outside US require Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification. However, students from Canadian pharmacy schools are exempted in few states. Students take up practice tests and review course to pass the test in minimum number of tries.

In case, if you fail the NAPLEX test then you can take the test for the second time. However, taking the test once more need a written approval by national or a state pharmacy body and you should pay the exam fee again. Some states restrict the number of attempts to clear the exam. In California, if you fail to clear the California Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination for four times then before proceeding for the next time you need to complete additional units of 16 semester.

Pharmacist Schools

You are required to complete your two-year undergraduate course before getting into pharmacy course of four years. It is essential for you to choose one of the best pharmacist schools to complete your degree course.

If you are busy and do not find enough time out of your busy schedule and you desire to pursue your Pharm.D course, then there are few schools that offer online programs.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012 claims on an average a pharmacist, gets $56.09 or $116,670 per hour. Half of the group makes more while the other gains less. Top 10 percent of the pharmacist earns more than $145,910. So, you can have a great career being a pharmacist. Working as pharmacist in retail pharmacies and department stores relatively get higher salaries.

If you are interested in pharmacist career, then you can also enter into nursing, physician, pharmacy techs, or biochemists. The salary of the pharmacist also depends on the location.

Professional Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment projects the employment growth to be 14 percent for the pharmacists between 2012 and 2022. The factors that probably contribute to the growth are the increased chronic diseases and aging population that needs medication. Additionally, federal health insurance legislation reform continues to change the scene by bringing more people into the prescription coverage that result in recruitment of more number of pharmacists to assist the patients and fill prescriptions.

Pharmacy Careers

Most of the pharmacists get employed in the community pharmacies. However, a wide variety of pharmacists is required for various occupational settings. These include:

  • Managed Care Pharmacy
  • Hospital and Institutional Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Industry or Sciences
  • Informatics
  • Consultant Pharmacy
  • Ambulatory Care Pharmacist
  • Community Pharmacy
  • Academic Pharmacy
  • Federal Pharmacy – Public Health
  • Federal Pharmacy – Armed Services

Academic Pharmacy

Being an educator in pharmacy has far-reaching effects. As an educator, you have a wide range of a horizon as you will interact and teach the prospective pharmacists. You will be the one laying stepping stone for your students for pharmacy career. As an academic pharmacy, you can work as researchers, teachers, patient care and public service. They have a varied range of responsibilities and hold various positions.


You can enjoy some benefits as pursuing career in academic pharmacy, they are:

  • By improving the learning experience of others, you can in turn enrich your knowledge base
  • Active contribution to the clinical and scientific knowledge
  • You can be creative and come up with your own interests to improve
  • Develop your own identity and be special
  • You can work together with professionals from other sections
  • Primarily you gain personal satisfaction as you train the students, graduates, fellows, and residents.

Additionally, an academic pharmacy has a huge scarcity of pharmacists as they are running in short of appropriately and adequately trained individuals.

Hospital And Institutional Practice

As there is an increased demand for public health care, the pharmacist professionals in hospital and institutional care are on demand. There is a lot of requirement for health centers, hospitals, extended care facilities and nursing homes. Knowledge of clinical skills and contemporary trends in pharmacy make the individual more authoritative source of pharmacy info. The contemporary pharmacy includes nuclear pharmacy, poison and drug information, intravenous therapy, and highly specialized areas. Also to this the pharmacy professionals serve in the department of pediatrics, adult medicine, psychiatry, oncology, and ambulatory care.

Pharmaceutical Industry Or Services

Healthcare distributors may not known for the patients. But, they are essential to provide necessary medicinal supplies and medicines. The pharmaceutical industries ensure that they provide accurate services that are timely and efficient in required location. These professionals have widened their service range to make sure that the customers receive effective and efficient service. They form the integral partners in providing health care service to patients and in turn reduce the health care cost.

Distributors are vital in providing effective health care. And they are attributed with the credit of reducing around $50 in the transactions of health care yearly. These professionals manage inventories, reduce dispense expenses, make sure of the product standards and simplifies the dispense cycle and make the product available and accessible easily at any location.


Information Technology is growing in a wide range, and it is never possible to leave out pharmacy. Yes, it is essential for a little of information technology in the pharmacy. The healthcare professionals are adapted to the computer and are acquainted with the required knowledge to access the required service. It is a unique field that brings together information, people, and systems. A person employed as pharmacy informatics will get an opportunity to work with doctors, information technology professionals, nurses, health care professionals and pharmacists. The pharmacy informatics strives to put in place a good practice environment with suitable systems.

The Pharm.D programs offered by the schools include informatics training. With the knowledge of required system support and the apt one in the place, they have a huge impact on patients.

Community Pharmacy

Yes, it is about people. As a community pharmacist, you will enjoy working with people from aiding them suffering because of pain and ache to sophisticated therapies. You can build an enduring relationship with the people. For most of the citizens, the healthcare pharmacist is the primary reach for all their healthcare needs as he or she is readily available and easily accessible. Pharmacy is the first place to visit by patients in case of health and medical questions.

If you are a person with strong communication and interpersonal skills, then this is apt for you. This involves working with people and need intense focus, efficiency, environment, and organization.

Consultant Pharmacy

Consultant pharmacy traces from nursing services to pharmacy services. Now it is termed as nursing facilities and long-term care. The consultant pharmacy concept evolved since three decades. There are more than 10,000 consultant pharmacists serving today. The consultant pharmacists are into clinical services, dispense services, and administrative services. Consultant pharmacists account for several billions of dollars of medical expenses.

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