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The way to Change into a Pharmacist (5 Important Steps)

Maybe you’ve all the time identified you wished to work in healthcare, stirring collectively “therapeutic potions” as a toddler utilizing something you could possibly discover round the home — from shampoos to flower petals. Or maybe you concluded at a later stage in life {that a} science profession — or a profession that means that you can assist others — could be proper up your ally.

It doesn’t matter what brings you to this text, we’re right here to shed some mild on the pharmacist’s profession path: what they do, how a lot they earn, what their work atmosphere is like, and the way you could possibly go about turning into one. Let’s reply some questions!

What’s a pharmacist?

A pharmacist (often known as a chemist throughout the pond within the UK) is a healthcare skilled that fulfills your prescriptions and recommends drugs based mostly in your wants and medical profile, making certain that you just obtain the right dosage on the appropriate frequency.

What are the several types of pharmacists?

Pharmacists can work in a spread of settings and, because of this, their each day duties may also differ considerably. Some varieties of pharmacists embody:

What does a pharmacist do?

Pharmacists have numerous obligations. Certainly, their day-to-day could also be much more different than you’ll anticipate! They:

What’s the office like?

As we have now seen, pharmacists could change into employed in numerous settings, from clinics to army posts, relying on the trail they select.

In line with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nevertheless, the vast majority of pharmacists within the US work in pharmacies and drug retailers, like Walgreens and CVS Well being. For these professionals, going to work means spending a whole lot of time on their ft, in addition to interacting with folks from all kinds of backgrounds and of all age teams.

The second largest proportion of pharmacists work in hospitals, which, after all, may be very totally different to working in a retailer setting. These professionals have direct, each day interactions with each docs and sufferers.

What number of hours do pharmacists work?

The vast majority of pharmacists work full time, or round 40 hours every week. Very similar to their working environments, pharmacists’ working hours may also differ relying on who they’re employed by.

Self-employed people, for instance, can resolve their very own work schedules (and can sometimes have further obligations to maintain — ones that include working your personal enterprise).

When working in services which might be open across the clock, like hospitals, pharmacists could should work evening shifts, on weekends and on holidays.

What do pharmacists earn?

With a imply hourly wage of $64.81 (that’s $134,790 a yr), in keeping with the BLS’s Occupational Employment and Wages survey, pharmacists earn greater than double the nationwide common for all occupations. The bottom tenth percentile, in the meantime, earns an annual wage of $89,980, whereas the best tenth percentile takes residence $168,650 a yr.

So far as the top-paying states for pharmacists go, they’re:

  • California ($157,280/yr)
  • Alaska ($151,600/yr)
  • Oregon ($149,550/yr)
  • Washington ($148,550/yr)
  • Minnesota ($143,210/yr)

In a snapshot:

Pharmacist Salary

What’s their job outlook?

The BLS’s Employment Projections survey forecasts that, within the 2022–2032 interval, employment of pharmacists within the nation will develop by 2.6%, which is about the identical as the common for all occupations. That is the equal of 13,400 openings per yr over the last decade.

At the moment, there are 334,200 pharmacists in employment; by 2032, the quantity is anticipated to develop to 342,900. Of those, 0.9% are at present self-employed, a determine that’s anticipated to fall to 0.7% by the top of the 10-year interval.

What are the entry necessities?

We’ve checked out what a pharmacist’s work atmosphere sometimes seems like, in addition to how a lot they will doubtlessly earn. However what are the necessities of touchdown your first job on this area?


Pharmacists within the US will sometimes want a Physician of Pharmacy (or PharmD) diploma from an accredited program with the intention to apply the career. To enroll in this sort of program, candidates should first full a bachelor’s diploma in a STEM area akin to chemistry or organic sciences.

Alternatively, some college students full a pre-pharmacy program as a substitute of an undergraduate diploma.

Expertise and qualities

To seek out work as a pharmacist, you will need to be capable to reveal a spread of abilities and qualities in addition to treatment experience. These embody:

Licensing and certification

The pharmacist’s career requires licensure in all states. These necessities can differ, nevertheless, relying on the place you reside.

No matter your location, you’ll have to go the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) take a look at, in addition to the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) take a look at or one other state-specific take a look at.

Would you make a superb pharmacist?

Spending just below a decade of your life making ready for a particular profession path is a giant dedication. To be sure that that is certainly the appropriate alternative for you, you’ll wish to take a better take a look at your strengths, pursuits, persona and motivators, and mirror in your total profession targets.

A psychometric take a look at (or a sequence of them) may give you treasured insights into your work persona, profession pursuits and motivators, and reasoning means. Our very personal career-matching platform CareerHunter may even match you towards a database of greater than 250 careers, in addition to offering you with the insights, so you may look at all of your choices.

5 steps to change into a pharmacist

The trail to working as a pharmacist is sort of longwinded. Let’s take a look at 5 steps you will need to full with the intention to apply this career:

Step 1: Full your highschool schooling

Within the majority of instances, turning into a pharmacist takes a lot of learning at tertiary degree — eight years of it, to be precise. So, with the intention to embark on this lengthy instructional journey efficiently, you have to first purchase your highschool diploma.

Incomes your diploma is a good suggestion, no matter what profession path you’re hoping to pursue sooner or later. In line with the BLS, highschool diploma holders earn greater than those that by no means full highschool, they usually’re additionally rather a lot much less prone to discover themselves unemployed.

Step 2: Earn a bachelor’s diploma

Earlier than you may work as a pharmacist, you’ll have to get licensed, and earlier than you are able to do that, you’ll want to finish a Doctorate of Pharmacy program. And, with the intention to enroll in an accredited program, you’ll first have to full a associated undergraduate diploma — though, in some instances, a two- or three-year affiliate diploma could suffice.

Some topics you may pursue at undergrad degree embody pharmaceutical research, biology and chemistry. In case your college presents it, you may additionally be capable to enroll in an built-in program that results in PharmD admission.

Step 3: Apply to pharmacy college

When taking a look at graduate packages, be certain that your chosen ones have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Training!

Then, you should utilize PharmCAS to submit your purposes. The centralized utility service will allow you to discover totally different packages in addition to examine their entry necessities.

By way of the platform, you’ll be capable to submit your private assertion, transcripts and letters of advice.

Up till January 2024, graduates thinking about pursuing a pharmacy diploma might sit the Pharmacy Faculty Admissions Check (PCAT) to spice up their probabilities of being chosen. This take a look at, nevertheless, has now been retired.

Step 4: Full your PharmD diploma program

Sometimes, your PharmD program will take between three and 4 years to finish. Throughout that point, you’ll be taught on a spread of associated topics, from pharmacy regulation to pharmacology, cell biology and non-prescription therapies.

You’ll additionally usually full hands-on pharmacy apply, which is able to let you apply what you be taught within the classroom in a real-life setting.

Being a pharmacist comes with nice accountability, because the well being of your sufferers will lie in your means to pay attention actively, make well-informed selections and empathize successfully. The extra you get to apply your principle in a affected person care setting, the extra you’ll strengthen important abilities and construct a way of confidence in your means.

Step 5: Obtain your license

As talked about above, there shall be two units of exams that you will want to take a seat with the intention to acquire your license. All US-based pharmacists should go the NAPLEX examination and the MPJE take a look at or one other take a look at required by their state.

The (non-negotiable) NAPLEX examination, issued by the Nationwide Affiliation of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is designed to evaluate your means to:

  • Get hold of, interpret or assess knowledge, medical or affected person info
  • Establish drug traits
  • Develop or handle therapy plans
  • Carry out calculations
  • Compound, dispense or administer medicine, or handle supply techniques
  • Develop or handle apply or medication-use techniques to make sure security and high quality

Closing ideas

Across the US, there are round 140 accredited pharmacy faculties that aspiring pharmacists can select from. Regardless of the place you earn your Physician of Pharmacy diploma from, although, one factor is definite: a whole lot of arduous work is required to kick-starting your profession within the area.

Nevertheless, if you happen to’re in search of a significant career that mixes job safety with a fantastic wage, the hassle shall be value it. You simply have to remain dedicated and be somewhat affected person!

So, do inform: Are you able to see your self working as a pharmacist sooner or later? Share your ideas with us within the feedback part!

This text is an entire replace of an earlier model initially printed in February 2014.

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