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What are the Requirements to Become a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists everywhere must hold specialized degrees, usually at the doctorate or Ph.D. level.
Attention to detail when filling out prescriptions is an important part of being a pharmacist.
Pharmacists should check patients' medications to ensure that there won't be any dangerous interactions between them.
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  • Originally Written By: K T Solis
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2014
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Different countries and jurisdictions tend to have different requirements to become a pharmacist, which can make setting out a hard and fast checklist somewhat difficult. In general, though, requirements include education, licensure, and work experience. Candidates are typically required to complete graduate-level university coursework and pass national or regional licensing exams. These tests tend to be comprehensive and must usually be repeated every few years in order to ensure that professionals have the most current knowledge. It’s usually also important for people to get work experience, whether by participating in internships or working for a few years before seeking full credentials. Some jurisdictions mandate this for licensure, and most degree programs also require it for graduation.

Education

Pharmacists everywhere must hold specialized degrees, usually at the doctorate or Ph.D. level. These programs tend to be very competitive, and usually themselves require a number of courses and scientific expertise. Academic counselors usually advise people hoping to enter pharmacy to take a lot of math and science classes in high school, and ideally to get a degree in something like chemistry, biology, or applied mathematics at the undergraduate level. Not all pharmacy schools require applicants to hold science degrees, but heavy coursework in these fields is usually considered essential.

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Graduate programs often take at least four years to complete. This means that a person hoping to become a pharmacist must usually be willing to set aside at least eight years for formal university training, sometimes more once clinical experience and internships are factored in.

It’s often the case that a degree completed in one place will be honored and recognized elsewhere, but not always. Different countries and localities have different requirements when it comes to the exact coursework and degree programs a person needs to get started. A bachelor’s degree in pharmacy might be enough in some places, for instance, and some countries will accept degree programs from foreign universities on an equivalency basis; other authorities are much stricter and may require in-country training. People hoping to practice somewhere other than where they currently live are usually wise to research the rules of their desired location before getting started on a degree.

Licensure

Education is usually only part of the process. Pharmacists, like most medical professionals, typically need to be licensed in order to work. Handling medication and advising patients are jobs that are considered highly specialized in most places. Governments usually have an interest in making sure that the people in these roles are both qualified and up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques.

People sit for licensing exams shortly after getting their degree in most places. Exams are typically written tests that can span several days, and are usually quite comprehensive. Some of the questions cover more general chemistry or math concepts, while others may involve hypothetical patient situations or specific drug dosing or interaction questions. There may also be an oral component where candidates have to answer questions on the spot in front of a panel of professionals.

Pharmacists often have to re-certify every few years, though this is rarely as involved as repeating the whole licensing process. Sometimes simply attending lectures and earning continuing education credits is enough, but professionals may also need to sit for more periodic exams. These tend to be shorter than the initial licensing tests, and often only cover developments over the last few years. Re-certification usually happens on something of a cycle, with professionals having to renew things every few years. The time between re-certification often grows with a pharmacist’s seniority, such that a new worker may have to sit for an exam every year or every other year, but someone who’s been on the job for a decade or more may get to wait three or five years between tests.

Experience

Field experience or on the job training is also required in many places. Some jurisdictions have formal apprenticeship programs where pharmacists-in-training shadow more established professionals for a certain amount of time, often a calendar year, before they are able to work independently; others simply require internships or a certain number of hours of supervised experience before a license will be issued. It’s often the case that pharmacology degree programs take these requirements into account and most people graduate having met or exceeded their locality’s rules. People looking to work in a different place may have some catch-up work to do, though.

Core Job Duties

Pharmacists can work in a variety of different settings. The most commonly known work in retail pharmacies or within hospitals or medical clinics, but this is by no means the extent of the profession. People can also work in research, manufacturing, or health policy. Getting started in any of these areas usually begins the same way, though, and people in all parts of the profession typically have the same basic education and certification. More job-specific training — interacting with patients, for instance, learning dispensing techniques, or understanding journal publication rules — usually comes with time.

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Discuss this Article

anon935522
Post 58

I did my b.pharm in 2010 and m.pharm in 2013. I married and came to the US. How can I get a job in US and what are the requirements for it?

anon929736
Post 57

I got my b.pharmacy in India. I got married and I came to the USA. So I would like to get a job in the USA. Is it possible with my degree? What courses do I need to take to get a job? I completed my b.pharm in 2012. And also what kind of jobs are available in the USA? I want to be a pharmacist in the USA. Please kindly help with a reply.

anon927994
Post 56

I have my diploma in pharmacy and am working in the UAE as a pharmacy technician. How I can get a B.pharm while working here? Are there any possibilities for an online class?

anon351860
Post 55

I finished my m.pharm degree in India and I got married to a software person in the UK. My post graduate degree is valid in the UK. What are the procedures? How can I get a job in the UK?

anon347340
Post 54

I finished my m.pharm degree in India and I got married to an Indian doctor who is in Germany. My post graduate degree is valid in Germany. What are the procedures?

anon341717
Post 53

Please guide me about salary prospectus about pharmacy in India and the U.S., as I am interested in the field. Are placements better in Indian colleges?

anon341466
Post 51

What subjects should I take in high school to become a pharmacist?

anon340307
Post 50

I completed my D.Pharmacy in 2009 at Gujarat University (62 percent) and also completed a B.Pharmacy in 2012 at Gujarat Technological University (74 percent) in India. I m a registered pharmacist in Gujarat. Now I wish to go to the USA. I also scored 6.5 on the IELTS. I want to know whether I am eligible to take the NAPLEX in the USA or not? I want to become a registered pharmacist in the USA, so which exam should I take?

anon336566
Post 48

I got my b.pharmacy in India. I got married and I came to the USA. So I would like to get a job in the USA. Is it possible with my degree? What courses do I need to take to get a job? I completed my b.pharm in 2012. And also what kind of jobs are available in the USA? I want to be a pharmacist in the USA. Please kindly help with a reply.

anon328546
Post 47

I would contact the pharmacy board in whichever state you want to work or study in. They will go over your transcripts and tell you the requirements. You can also look up the state requirements online.

anon319853
Post 46

My daughter is in the 11th grade and wants to be a pharmacist in the future. What subjects should she take in 11th and 12 grade?

anon277196
Post 45

I am a Pharmacy graduate from India. I completed four years of degree coursed in India. I checked online about FPGEE. I saw that to give that exam you must have completed a five-year degree and I have just a four year degree. I want to become a pharmacist in USA. Someone please help me. What should I do? Is there any alternative way?

phuctra
Post 44

I completed my B.pharmacy in India and have a friend who has finished his M.Pharm in India. What is the procedure to work as a pharmacist in the USA?

anon241818
Post 41

I want to be a pharmacist but am average when it comes to biology but I am strong at chemistry and mathematics.

anon187852
Post 40

I have completed my b.Pharm this year in india and i want to work as a pharmacist in canada. what are the regulatory requirements and tests to be qualified.

sunakshi
Post 39

I am in 11th standard. I have taken physics, chemistry and mathematics. I am from cbse board, India. I want ta become pharmacist. So can you please guide me for my future?

narranikhil
Post 37

I am nikhil. i completed my bachelers in pharmacy in india, and at present i am doing my ms in pharmaceutics in new york, so what is the way to become a pharmacist in canada and what exams i should take for it?

anon168677
Post 35

I have obtained a master of pharmacy with a 2.1 from the university of Aston in the UK. I wanted to know if is possible to obtain a d pharm in the US and how long a b pharm would take to complete? And is it possible to get registered in the us with m pharm from the uk? thank you!

anon154924
Post 34

I have b.sc in pharmacy. can I work with this degree in canada?

anon153501
Post 32

I'm 14 and i want to become a pharmacist when i grow up. I wanted to know how long it takes to become a pharmacist.

anon144942
Post 29

i have done my pharmacy from india so i want to become registered pharmacist here. can you please help me? what should i do?

anon131351
Post 28

if a person has a low grade in some field of science, will he or she be able to get a pharmacy course and job? Please guide me. I'm begging you. thanks a lot!

anon127479
Post 26

i have completed my pharmacy from India and i got u.s average credit score about 3.52 equal to diploma pharmaceutical science. and i want to become a registered pharmacist here. i am living in Chicago. what i have to do?

anon123973
Post 25

I completed my bachelors of pharmacy from india. right now I'm doing a master's in health care in US, so how can i work as pharmacist here?

anon121112
Post 24

I'm 12 years old and I'm thinking of becoming a pharmacist in the future. I live in the U.K. What shall i do?

anon119401
Post 23

i would like to continue my b.pharm either in msc degree or pharmd. now i am working as licenced pharmacist in ethiopia, so show me the way.

anon117477
Post 22

i have a friend in india. he has a bachelors in pharmacy. what is the procedure to work as a pharmacist in usa?

anon115165
Post 20

I just finished high school and i been thinking about becoming a pharmacist I want to know if it's too hard and what classes i should be taking. please someone, answer my question.

anon113493
Post 19

I am a 13 year old student who is in seventh grade. I have wanted to become a pharmacist for years. Can someone please help me find a good college in California? I am strong in all areas and I am a hard worker.

anon112822
Post 18

What is the next step after b.Pharm in india?

Can i continue ms or pharmd there?

anon108869
Post 17

i completed my b.pharmacy in india and i want to become a pharmacist in the usa can you tell me what the steps are to be taken as to become a pharmacist in the usa? Please guide me. thank you.

anon92233
Post 16

i had always a dream that one day i will be a pharmacist. i just finished high school one year ago and started college. i really don't know where to start or what class to take. could someone help me?

anon88662
Post 15

i have my bachelor degree in pharmacy from india and i want to be a pharmacist in the usa. What steps do i have to follow to do so?

vdhola
Post 13

I'm now studying in b.Pharma at india.

What should i have to do if i want to become a registered pharmacist in usa?

anon71860
Post 11

Can you get a biology degree in college then move on to pharmacy school?

anon67594
Post 10

I was wondering if someone could be a pharmacist with a previous mental health record?

anon65180
Post 9

i want to become a pharmacist. i have a strong interest in medicine, and would enjoy doing this as a career, but i might steal all the pills what should i do?

anon64128
Post 8

I have a friend in India. He has finished his Bachelors in pharmacy. What is the procedure to work as a Pharmacist in the USA?

anon55815
Post 7

What classes in high school should I be taking?

anon55247
Post 6

i want to become a pharmacist because i really want to be in the health care field, but I'm not really into actually caring for the patients so i thought that becoming a pharmacist was the next best thing.

Amatel1221
Post 5

Hi, I just turned 20 and I recently decided that I really wanted to become a pharmacist. I love to help people and I just wanted to know if it was even possible for me to become a pharmacist.

I never graduated high school but I did receive my GED once I turned 18. Science isn't my strong point but I am a really hard worker. Where should I start?

I am moving to Orlando, FL and I don't really know what I should do first, how long it's going to take or what courses I should take? If you have any suggestions I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

anon53033
Post 4

I am a fully licensed pharmacist. I have been a pharmacist for over 30 years. I am willing to take questions.

anon35430
Post 2

I have passed 12th exam with pcm.I want to know whether i can do b.Pharmacy

rickypatel26
Post 1

Right now I'm studying at community college. I came into the USA like 8 months ago. I graduated from high school from India with science subjects. I'm looking forward to becoming a pharmacist.

What classes should I take? I'm in Florida. Do I have to get into pharmacy school after finishing with community college? plz guide me..thank you

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