If you are considering a career in the healthcare field, you may have wondered how to become a pharmacist. Becoming a pharmacist does involve a fairly long educational track and you will need to work towards a Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited college or university in order to become a licensed professional in the field. Pharmacy career options are plentiful for those who have a doctorate degree and several years of work experience. Pharmacist career options are fairly limited if you only have a graduate degree, so most students complete the full doctorate degree training program when they are interested in a lifelong pharmacy career.

Reasons to Pursue a Pharmacy Career

Many people decide that becoming a pharmacist is the right career path for them because they have a genuine desire to help people get better, and want to work in the healthcare industry. Pharmacists are employed all over the world by hospitals, medical institutions, retail stores and research facilities, and pharmacy careers are an attractive option for many.

Some of the key reasons why you might consider pursuing pharmacy careers include:

  • Wanting to help people get well and improve their health
  • Working directly with patients and providing a variety of health care services
  • Enjoying a variety of career options and job opportunities throughout your lifetime
  • Fulfilling the increased demand for trained and licensed pharmacists
  • Having job mobility and flexibility
  • Being a part of major advances in the drug therapy field
  • Serving as a health professional and being a valuable part of a healthcare team

How to Become a Pharmacist

There are several things you need to know when considering pharmacy careers and learning how to become a pharmacist. Most pharmacist jobs require the applicant to have completed clinicals, research projects, and to have excelled throughout their educational track. The pharmacy career track is fairly competitive, so students need to be at the top of their class and be prepared to take several intensive courses throughout their training.

Becoming a pharmacist may not be easy, but many people who complete the necessary training and education requirements enjoy very rewarding pharmacy careers and job opportunities.

Consider the following steps when you are learning how to become a pharmacist:

  1. Decide if a pharmacy career is the right fit for you. Pharmacists work in a variety of healthcare and customer service settings, and may also be hired by pharmaceutical research companies to work in private labs. You will need to consider whether the roles and responsibilities of a pharmacist are the right match for you, and how committed you are in furthering your education and career over your lifetime.
  2. Review doctorate degree programs. In order to apply for attractive positions throughout your pharmacy career, you will need to have a Pharm.D. degree. These doctorate degree programs are offered by colleges and universities listed by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Some of these degree programs can be completed partially online, or in a distance-learning format. In most cases, it will take you at least three to four years to complete your Pharm.D. degree.
  3. Choose your bachelor's degree carefully. You will need at least a few years of college-level experience or a bachelor's degree in order to apply for a Pharm. D. degree program. Choose a medical or health-related field during your undergraduate studies so that you can strengthen your skills in subjects including upper-level mathematics, science, biology and physics.
  4. Complete a residency or fellowship. Your admissions advisor or counselor can provide you with information on residency requirements at the Pharmacy School. You may need to complete a fellowship or fulfill residency requirements for one to two years before you can take the licensure exam.
  5. Take the pharmacist licensure exam. You will need to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) in order to get your license. Check with your State to find out what the licensing requirements are.