Pharmacists work in a variety of professional job roles. Pharmacists can be found in retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, working for drug companies, or teaching at pharmacy schools. The level of responsibility of a pharmacist is very high; after all the pharmacist is responsible for ensuring the safe and accurate dispensing of medication. If you want to become a pharmacist it’ll take many years of schooling leading to a Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD.) degree.
The time frame to become a pharmacist can vary but usually is anywhere from six to eight years to complete. An interesting fact is that technically you do not need a Bachelor’s degree before going to pharmacy school as 2 years of science undergraduate coursework is generally sufficient. However it is advisable for many students get obtain a Bachelor’s degree first in the event pharmacy school does not work out for the student.
Undergraduate requirements are a minimum of 2 years of education including many science and math classes. Since requirements at each pharmacy school can vary widely, it is good to check each school to make sure requirements are met. Some schools have pre-pharmacy tracks that ensure students have the requirements for that school’s pharmacy programs. Many students complete a 4 year Bachelor’s degree before pharmacy school.
Credit: By Tom Varco (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Once admitted to a pharmacy school, students have a minimum of 4 years of classroom learning, lab courses, and internship rotations to complete. Someprograms require more than 4 years. After pharmacy school one has to past a state licensing exam in order to receive a license to practice pharmacy. Note that some jobs may not require a license, such as pharmaceutical research, while jobs in retail pharmacy and hospital pharmacy always require a license.
For practicing pharmacists the education is life long. As long as you are a licensed pharmacist you’ll need to take continuing education (CE) credits and coursework either through pharmacy association publications, classes, or employer training.
The journey to become a pharmacist can be a long and daunting process. But the pay off both financially and personally can be great. Pharmacists are often the most seen health professionals and are often the most easily accessible healthcare provider in their community. Salary wise many retail and hospital pharmacists make over $100,000 a year full time and those in research or production of pharmaceuticals may make even more. Plus job demand is overall good for pharmacists creating good job security.