Becoming a pharmacist takes at least six years of study after high school graduation, but if you already have a bachelor's degree, or an associate's degree, you can become a pharmacist in four years. Job opportunities in this field will continue to expand, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as pharmacists take a greater role in counseling and developing drug plans for patients.
Select a doctor in pharmacy degree, or Pharm.D., program. The doctor in pharmacy is not a graduate degree, but a professional degree. There are about 100 accredited Pharm.D. programs in the United States, so the first step would be to search for the right program for you, taking into consideration the tuition, the location of the program and the type of classes offered (see Resources).
Complete the prerequisites for the Pharm.D. program that you have chosen. Generally, the prerequisites are chemistry, mathematics, biology, physics and humanities. Computer proficiency is also required. Because you already have a bachelor's degree, you probably have already completed many of these prerequisites.
Take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) if the program that you are applying to requires so.
Complete the four years of study in the doctor in pharmacy program, then take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam, or MPJE. Most states require a certain period of internship that graduates must complete before practicing pharmacy, but the internship is usually incorporated in the Pharm.D. curriculum.
Continue your education after becoming licensed as a pharmacist. You must take continuing education units yearly to maintain your pharmacy license.
Tips & Warnings
- All states require that Pharm.D. graduates take and pass the NAPLEX and MPJE exams.
- Individual states may have additional exams that must be passed before a Pharm.D. graduate can practice pharmacy.
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