How to Become a Pharmacist

Becoming a pharmacist takes a lot of training.  Pharmacy used to be a five-year degree, but it is now a six-year degree.  To be a pharmacist, you must earn your Doctor of Pharmacy degree, or PharmD.  This is a professional degree, not a graduate degree. While pharmacists may be referred to by the title of Doctor, they can dispense drugs but not prescribe them.

The PharmD program is very science-intensive.  High school students should take science every year in each of the disciplines offered – earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics – in order to gain entrance to the university degree program.   AP classes are preferred, if they are available. College courses will include a lot of chemistry, and students who do not do well in chemistry will not do well in pharmacy.  Organic chemistry is often offered early on, as it is a very difficult subject, and it helps to weed out students who are not a good match for the discipline. (I could never have been a pharmacist. I did well on my AP exams for both chemistry and physics, but I never quite grasped organic chemistry!)

Once you get your PharmD, you must pass NAPLEX, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam. It is a computer-adaptive text that was developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.  After you’ve passed NAPLEX, you are officially a licensed pharmacist.  You aren’t done with your education, though, because you must renew your licensure every two years.  This requires taking 30 units of Continuing Education coursework, which will help to keep you abreast of new information as it pertains to your work.

The last step to becoming a pharmacist is to find a job. Sunbelt Staffing can help you find a job near your home or across the country. We can help you get licensed in other states if you accept a travel assignment, so you don’t need to worry about staying in-state.  We’ll even reimburse you for your licensing fees when you complete your assignment!

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