How to Become a Pharmacist
What Does a Pharmacist Do?
Why Study Pharmacy?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacist?
Pharmacist Education Requirements
4 Common Steps to Becoming a Pharmacist
Is it hard to become a pharmacist? While everyone’s journey is different, there are typically four steps to becoming a pharmacist—and the process can be rigorous. Individual state requirements will vary and are subject to change, including licensure standards, exam eligibility, and appropriate pathways, and may differ based on individual student backgrounds. Students should do their own due diligence and determine the appropriate pathway and license type for themselves.
In the following sections, we’ll walk you through each of these steps.
- Pharmacy Prerequisites
Typically, to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy, which is a postgraduate professional degree, you’ll first need to earn a two-year degree or four-year bachelor’s degree online or in-person. As part of your undergraduate degree program, you may take prerequisites such as biology, biochemistry, math, physics, statistics and psychology.
As mentioned, there are programs that accept high school graduates directly into a six-year program. In that case, you’d likely take the prerequisites within the program.
- Standardized Admission Test
Some pharmacy schools require applicants to pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) before being admitted into a Pharm.D. degree program, though it is not required of all programs. It is up to the discretion of each individual program to set these requirements. This standardized test measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education. The PCAT is administered in a computer-based test format.
- Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy
Before you can get your pharmacist license, you’ll have to apply to and complete a Doctor of Pharmacy program that is ACPE accredited. You may choose from a number of accredited degree programs, 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’ll have to complete a number of hours as an intern, which varies by state. Be sure to verify the details with your state board.
- Licensing Exams and Certification
Once you earn your Doctor of Pharmacy, you’ll need to pass at least two licensure exams—the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which tests pharmacy skills and knowledge, and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific test on pharmacy law. Some states may require passage of additional exams.
Students may be required to complete additional steps in order to be licensed and should complete their own research to determine the appropriate steps and pathway for the state they wish to practice in.