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Pharmacy Degree and Training Programs

Pharmacy degree and training programs can prepare you to work as pharmacy technician or pharmacist. Read on to learn about degree levels, their respective curricula, and possible careers.

What Are Pharmacy Degree and Training Programs?

Depending on the type of pharmacy degree and training program you select, you would receive instruction on pharmaceuticals, dispensing prescription medications and managing administrative functions of pharmacy operations. Training and degrees are available through on-campus and online programs.

Pharmacy degree programs include associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, including the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). Historically, the bachelor's in pharmacy was the primary educational requirement to be a licensed pharmacist in the U.S. However, the or Pharm.D. replaced the bachelor's as the educational requirement for licensure.

A Pharm.D. is a professional practice degree that is more extensive than a bachelor's, but it is not an advanced graduate educational degree, as is a Ph.D. To work as a pharmacist, you need to obtain a Pharm.D. However, if you are interested in research, you can obtain a Ph.D or a master's degree. Associate's and bachelor's degrees facilitate other job opportunities within the pharmacy industry.

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees
Undergraduate Curricula Associate's programs cover administrative and clinical topics; bachelor's program focus more on research and clinical training
Graduate Curricula Pharm.D. programs cover pharmacokinetics and pharmacy law; extensive clinical training is required
Possible Careers Depending on the degree, pharmacy assistant, pharmacy technician, pharmacist, or research scientist
Median Salary (2018)$126,120* (for pharmacists)
Job Outlook (2016-26)6%* (for all pharmacists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

If you enroll in a 2-year associate's degree program, your curriculum may include administrative training in medical terminology, pharmacy management, pharmacy procedures and accounting. Clinical training may be covered through subjects including basic pharmacology and drug administration. A 4-year bachelor's degree program may provide less administrative training and more clinical training in analytical techniques, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and pathophysiology.

The curriculum of a Pharm.D. program usually takes two years of undergraduate studies and 3-4 years of professional studies. Your Pharm.D. professional studies may include integrated pharmacotherapy, principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacy law and health care systems. In some instances, your associate's or bachelor's degree coursework may be used to meet the undergraduate studies requirement for the Pharm.D.; however, you will still be required to complete the program's professional requirements.

Master's and Ph.D. programs are available as individual programs or through dual-program formats. Some schools also offer pharmaceutical specialization options. Your graduate studies may include advanced pharmaceutics, advanced pharmacokinetics, molecular and cellular pharmaceutics, neural injury and toxicological pathology.

What Can I Do With My Education?

If you obtain an associate's degree, you may work as an entry-level pharmacy assistant or technician, under the supervision of pharmacists. You may provide clinical support by labeling prescriptions and calculating drug dosages. Administrative duties may include operating cash registers and answering telephones. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the 2018 annual median salary for pharmacy technicians was $32,700 (www.bls.gov).

With a bachelor's degree, you may serve as a pharmacy technician with more clinical responsibilities, but also under the supervision of pharmacists. Additionally, you may use your bachelor's degree as a platform to enter into graduate studies. With a master's degree or Ph.D., you may work as a pharmaceutical scientist, developing or improving drugs, conducting research or serving as an educator.

If you obtain a Pharm.D., you would be eligible to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which is administered through National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Upon passing your exam, you may work as a pharmacist. The BLS reported that as of 2018, the annual median salary for pharmacists was $126,120.