What Are the Requirements to Be a Pharmacist?

Aspiring pharmacists typically need to complete a doctoral program and supervised clinical experiences; they also need to obtain state licensure. Read on to learn more about career pathways in community, specialty, or research pharmacy. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pharmacist Requirements Overview

Pharmacists must complete a degree program, residency and/or fellowship, and attain a license before entering the field. Pharmacists are trained in the use and distribution of pharmaceuticals and other types of medications. They read prescriptions and distribute the appropriate dosages to individuals, as well as advise patients who are taking the medications. Pharmacists work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide feedback and recommendations for prescribing or administering necessary drugs to patients. Some pharmacists are skilled in a specialized area of pharmaceuticals or conduct drug research. Pharmacists work in local drug stores, hospitals, research labs, and community health centers.

Important Facts About Pharmacists

Median Salary (2014) $120,950
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 3% growth
Key Skills Oral and written communication, detailed oriented, analytical thinking, computer competency, leadership and delegation skills
Similar Occupations Biochemists, biophysicists, medical scientists, pharmacy technicians, physicians, surgeons, registered nurses

Educational Requirements

To become a pharmacist, you must complete a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program that's been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). These programs typically take four years to complete. Generally, pharmacy students have to complete at least two years of undergraduate education before entry into a Pharm.D. program, though some schools may require completion of a 4-year bachelor's program. You'll need prerequisite science-related coursework, including chemistry, biology, and anatomy.

As a student of pharmacy, you're introduced to anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, which can include the immune and endocrine systems, as well as genetics and metabolism. As you progress through the program, you'll distinguish among numerous pharmaceuticals and understand their chemical properties and methods of administration. In addition to the study of human body systems in relation to pharmaceutical use, Pharm.D. programs cover patient safety, pharmaceutical laws, and pharmacy operations for a variety of settings. All Pharm.D. students are required to complete professional clinical experience, such as interning in a community or hospital pharmacy.

Additional Training

Upon completing a Pharm.D. program, you have the opportunity to continue post-graduate training in a residency or fellowship program. These programs are typically one to two years in length. Residency and fellowship programs can range from training in research studies to becoming specialized in a focused area of pharmaceuticals, such as HIV pharmacotherapy. Often, these programs include a teaching or research aspect that is coupled with the specialized training.

Licensing

All states require pharmacists to be licensed. The basic requirements for state licensure include completing an ACPE-approved program, taking the appropriate exams, fulfilling a minimum number of hours of an internship, and submitting to a background check. The tests used for pharmacist licensure are the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). Not all states require you to take the MPJE, although some states may have their own jurisprudence exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • South University

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    • Doctoral
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  • American University

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    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master
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  • Johns Hopkins University

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  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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  • Virginia College

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  • University of Delaware

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    Popular programs at University of Delaware:

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