How To Become A Pharmacist

Stan T.Career, RequirementsLeave a Comment

How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More


Pharmacists dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners and provide information to patients about medications and their use. May advise physicians and other health practitioners on the selection, dosage, interactions, and side effects of medications.

Becoming One
Very Hard
Doctoral degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth


Table of contents
  1. Summary
  2. Steps to become one
  3. Popular degree levels
  4. How long does it take


Degree Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree
License or certification Required
Duration to become one Six to eight years
Difficulty to become one Very Hard

Pharmacists need to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, which typically requires an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree. Aspiring Pharmacists typically major in science-related fields such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. After earning a Pharm.D. degree, Pharmacists need to pass two exams to become licensed in their state.

Pharmacists Requirements

Step 1: Take Science Courses in High School

Aspiring Pharmacists should excel in science. During high school, try to take the highest level of science available at your school. Most high school students complete Biology and Chemistry. After completing the minimum science credits in your state, continue to take additional science classes such as Physics and advanced placement (AP) science classes.

Several universities also offer special programs for high school students who are interested in careers in Pharmacy. These programs often include a tour of the campus and the pharmacy department along with workshops and lectures to learn more about the duties of the Pharmacist.

Step 2: Earn an Associate’s Degree

Before enrolling in a Pharm.D. program, you need to obtain at least an Associate’s degree. Aspiring Pharmacists typically major in the sciences, such as Biology, Physics, or Chemistry. Some colleges and universities also offer Pharmaceutical Studies programs. These programs offer training and education that is directly related to the work of a Pharmacist. You may complete courses in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Drug Development, Pharmacy Calculations, and other relevant topics.

If you choose another major, you may still need to complete specific courses to qualify for a pharmacy school. Pharmacy schools often require students to complete certain college-level courses such as Calculus, Organic Chemistry, Anatomy, and Microbiology.

Pharm.D. programs typically require an Associate’s degree. However, there are also six-year programs that eliminate the need for a postsecondary degree. Before earning an Associate’s degree, you should review and compare the Pharm.D. programs that you would like to attend. You may be able to enroll in a six-year program immediately after high school.

Along with six-year programs, there are specialized programs for those who already have a Bachelor of Science degree. The specialized programs may only take one to two years to complete and are intended to bridge the gap between a Bachelor’s degree and a Pharm.D. degree.

Step 3: Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree

Some Pharm.D. programs require applicants to have a Bachelor’s degree instead of an Associate’s degree. However, an Associate’s degree is the minimum requirement for most programs.

You may also need to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). The PCAT measures your general academic abilities and scientific knowledge. It also tests your writing skills, reading comprehension, and critical thinking skills. The test was developed by Pearson, the leading testing organization for a wide range of industries.

Getting accepted to a Pharm.D. program is competitive. Along with a good score on the PCAT, you may need to complete 90 credit hours of university coursework before entering a program. Some schools require applicants to complete college-level courses in the Sciences, Mathematics, and Humanities.

The programs that you apply to should be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). If you complete a program from an unaccredited school, you may not qualify for the exams needed to become a licensed Pharmacist.

Step 4: Pass Exams to Become a Licensed Pharmacist

Every state in the United States requires Pharmacists to become licensed. To earn your license, you will need to pass two exams and complete a specific number of hours of work experience.

The number of hours of experience required to become licensed varies from state to state. Most states require 1000 to 2000 hours of practical experience and training. Aspiring Pharmacists typically gain this experience when completing their Pharm.D. degrees. Most schools have internships and school-supervised clinical rotations.

Along with meeting the training requirements, you need to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). This exam tests your pharmacy skills and knowledge and is a requirement in every state. The NAPLEX was developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to assess the competence of aspiring Pharmacists.

After passing the NAPLEX, you need to pass either the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific exam administered by a governing board in your state. The MPJE is completed online. However, some states have separate tests and requirements for the second exam.

Arkansas and California administer individual exams and have separate requirements for Pharmacists. In Arkansas, you must complete 2000 hours of practical experience or training. Residents of California need to complete 1500 hours of experience and pass the California Practice Standards and Jurisprudence Examination.

Step 5: Complete a Residency Program for Pharmacists

Pharmacists who choose to seek specialized positions, such as Clinical Pharmacist or Research Pharmacist, may need additional training. There are residency programs available for specialty areas of Pharmacy. The residency programs typically take one to two years to complete.

Completing a residency typically provides training in a hospital setting. However, you may complete rotations in multiple departments.

Step 6: Earn Additional Certifications to Advance Your Career

There are several professional certifications for Pharmacists who want to seek higher positions. Most professional certifications require several years of work experience and the completion of an exam.

The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) offers certification in 13 specialty areas, including Cardiology, Pharmacotherapy, Psychiatric Pharmacy, Geriatric Pharmacy, Critical Care Pharmacy, and Pediatric Pharmacy. Obtaining certification in one of these specialties may lead to additional career opportunities.

For example, completing the Geriatric Pharmacy certification may qualify you to work in nursing homes and other elder-care facilities.

Some states also require additional certification for Pharmacists who perform specific tasks. If your job requires you to administer immunizations and vaccinations, you may need to complete the Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program, which is offered through the American Pharmacist’s Association.

What degree do most Pharmacists have

Doctoral degree

We did a survey to ask other Pharmacists what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.

First Professional degree

Doctoral degree

Post Baccalaureate certificate

How long does it take

Six to eight years

Aspiring Pharmacists need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), which typically takes four years to complete and requires at least an Associate’s degree. Pharmacists who seek advanced positions may also need to complete a one-year to two-year residency.

Learn more about Pharmacists

Job Description
Requirements (You are here)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.