Throughout the history of modern medicine, pharmacists have consistently been tasked with understanding the drugs and treatments that have revolutionized the quality of life for millions of people.
The pharmaceutical market, which is currently valued at 1.27 trillion U.S. dollars, is steadily growing and expanding in research, development, testing, and distribution, creating more jobs for qualified pharmacists.
The article highlights the extensive process of becoming a licensed pharmacist.
What Does a Pharmacist Do?
Pharmacists are on the front lines of ensuring individuals receive proper drugs and treatments for health issues. Pharmacists are given great responsibility to ensure safe pharmacological practices, working in tandem with doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the public.
With that responsibility comes years of education to ensure students have gained the necessary skills and knowledge to work in the field.
Whether the aspiring pharmacists are coming from high school or already holding a postsecondary degree or pharmacy tech certification such as PTCB, there are numerous paths available to those who are ready to work hard.
Four Common Steps to Becoming a Pharmacist
While everyone’s journey varies, there are typically four steps to becoming a licensed pharmacist—and the process can be rigorous.
Individual state requirements are different from one another and are subject to change, including licensure standards, exam eligibility, and appropriate pathways, and may differ based on personal student backgrounds.
Students should carry out due diligence and determine their favored pathway and license type.
We will walk you through each of these steps in the following sections.
1. Pharmacy Prerequisites
Typically, to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy, a postgraduate professional degree, you will first need to earn a two-year degree or four-year bachelor’s degree online or in person.
You may take prerequisites such as biology, biochemistry, physics, math, statistics, and psychology as part of your undergraduate degree program.
As mentioned, some programs accept high school graduates directly into a six-year program. In that case, you would likely take the prerequisites within the program.
2. Standardized Admission Test
Some pharmacy course schools like Medical hero helps applicants to pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) before being admitted into a Pharm.D. degree program, although this is not a requirement of all programs.
It is up to the discretion of each program to set these requirements. This test measures the scientific knowledge and general academic ability necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education. The PCAT is a computer-based administered test.
3. Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy
You will have to apply to and complete a Doctor of Pharmacy program that is ACPE accredited before you can get your pharmacist license.
You can choose any accredited degree program, from online options that allow you to complete coursework from the comfort of your home to on-campus doctorate in pharmacy programs.
As part of your education, you will have to complete several hours as an intern, which varies by state. Make sure to verify every detail with your state board.
4. Licensing Exams and Certification
Once you earn your Doctor of Pharmacy, you will need to pass at least two licensure exams.
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) tests pharmacy skills and knowledge, and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific test on pharmacy law. Some states may require the passage of additional exams.
Students may be required to complete additional steps to be licensed and should conduct their research to determine the appropriate steps and pathway for the state they wish to practice in.
Why Become a Pharmacist?
Is being a pharmacist a good career? Individuals become pharmacists for several reasons, including their desire to use their scientific, analytical, and communication skills while also providing personalized patient care.
If you have not yet decided if a career as a pharmacist is a fit for you or what jobs in pharmacy pique your interest, you might consider factors like possible work settings and earning potential.
Pharmacy jobs are varied. There are lots of other places to work if you do not see yourself working in a drugstore or grocery store pharmacy.
Several healthcare settings employ pharmacists, including nursing homes, hospitals, managed care organizations, colleges and schools, and the federal government. On top of that, pharmacists may assume leadership roles like pharmacy executives.
What Is the Average Pharmacist’s Salary?
So, how much do these professional pharmacists earn for their work? While pharmacists’ pay depends on location, employer, number of years of experience, and more, pharmacists earned above-average wages in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual pharmacist’s salary in the US is $143,147 as of Feb 2022.
When you think about the types of jobs pharmacists have, those that work as community pharmacists in drugstore chains and grocery stores may immediately come to mind.
Those that spend most of their time dispensing medications and answering questions about patients’ prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or other health concerns. But there are lots of pharmacy careers to consider as you think about your future.
One career option is consultant pharmacist. They advise healthcare facilities or insurance providers on patient medication use or improve pharmacy services. Also, they are involved in direct patient interactions, such as helping seniors manage their prescriptions.
If you are not too keen on direct patient care, you could serve as a pharmaceutical industry pharmacist and work in marketing, sales, or research and development.
Some help develop new drugs and conduct clinical drug trials. They also help establish safety regulations to ensure quality drug control.
Suppose you want to work in the pharmacy field but do not want to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree or even a college degree. In that case, you could consider becoming a pharmacy technician or pharmacy assistant, or aide.
A pharmacy tech works closely with pharmacists to prepare medications, works with patients to obtain their medication histories, processes third-party billing claims, completes inventories of medicine, and maintains patient records.
But bear in mind that pharmacy technicians need to pass the PTCB exam. Thankfully, there is a pharmacy technician practice test online so you can get ready before taking the certification test.
Now that you know a little more about the pharmacy field and career choices within it, you can consider whether a pharmacy career is right for you.
Do you have strong analytic, scientific, and people skills? If you believe in the importance of pharmacy in the healthcare system. Explore all the options available to you today to become a pharmacist in the future.