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Medical education

How to Be a Pharmacist?: Step-by-Step Guide

To become a pharmacist, you will require a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.); every state requires pharmacist licensures after attaining the Degree. Dispensing and managing medications is the primary function of any pharmacist, with a 2% expected employment growth rate in healthcare in the upcoming years.

This article will discuss how to be a pharmacist and the procedure and time required to become a licensed pharmacist. On average, around $128,570 is the median annual salary for the pharmacist, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour and Statistics.

How Long to Become a Pharmacist?

After completing your prerequisite pharmacy undergraduate coursework, the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) takes four years with two years of added training to start practicing Pharmacy with a license.

How Long to Become a Pharmacist

Pharmacy is a challenging career but equally rewarding. It requires significant dedication and patience with Pharmaceutical education and training.

  • Pre-Pharmacy Education
    • You will require a bachelor’s degree of 4 years before pursuing your Doctor of Pharmacy, however, many Pharmacy schools admit students even without this degree after they complete their pre-requisite coursework during their undergraduate studies instead of this.
  • Pharm.D Degree Program
    • You can apply for the Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy) 4-year-long degree program with a pre-pharmacy bachelor’s degree or pre-requisite coursework. The program includes both classroom lessons and experimental rotations in Pharmacy setup.
  • Licensure Requirments

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In your Pharm.D program, you must undergo a rigorous curriculum and study subjects like pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacotherapy, pharmacy law, and clinical rotations. In addition, the prerequisite coursework should be science and mathematics, preparing you for a solid foundation.

Ensuring the patient’s safety and proper medication use, Pharmacists carry a high level of responsibility and keen focus on not mistaking the dispense of medication and usage prescription. Pharmacists years of school is 4 years, with 2 years added for fellowship or training.

Once you become a Pharmacist, you may require to work in community pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare settings. However, you can also choose higher academia or research work.

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How Do You Become a Pharmacist?

Being a responsible Pharmacist, you must adhere to regulatory compliance and have legal and ethical standards governing pharmacy practice. You should be updated with the pharmacy laws, new medication, secure medication records, and advancements in pharmacotherapy.

Even minor errors in dispensing medication or counseling can lead to severe consequences, so they must be detailed-oriented and highly focused with their dedication and perseverance to become Pharmacists.

Pharmacists can work with the following industries; we have tried to derive the list of sectors with their expected employment rates and annual mean salary; this will help you project the pharmacist requirements in upcoming years.

Sr No.Industry% of Industry EmployementAnnual Mean Earning
1Health and Personal Care Retailers12.69$ 122,790
2General Medical and Surgical Hospitals1.48$ 138,670
3Food and Beverage Retailers (4451 and 4452 only)0.79$ 119,340
4General Merchandise Retailers0.62$ 135,420
5Outpatient Care Centers0.74$ 155,770

You will have numerous career opportunities after a Pharma.D Degree or becoming a Pharmacist. For example, you can enter ambulatory care, oncology, critical care, psychiatric pharmacy, and geriatric pharmacy with additional training and certification.

Undergoing pharmaceutical training in drug interactions and medication management would make you intellectually sound and knowledgeable about various drugs, their composition, dosage, and side effects. However, don’t mistake dispensing with prescription.

Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing the drugs with the correct dosage prescribed by the Physician. A Pharmacist doesn’t define the medication to the patients. However, he can collaborate with the Physician for Medication Therapy Management for Patients.

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Pharmacist Requirements: Meeting the Criteria

To become a Pharmacist, you will require to go through a lengthy process of around 6 to 8 years that demands dedicated time and effort. The field of Pharmacy is challenging, though it has a great scope of rise in the Pharmacy career.

Pharmacist Requirements Meeting the Criteria

Following is the general set of Pharmacist Requirements; you can meet their eligibility criteria. However, you need to understand these are just general sets of necessities and might be variable in different medical schools for Pharmacy.

  1. Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) Degree from an accredited Pharmacy School.
  2. Prerequisite Courses may include biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and humanities.
  3. Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
  4. Experiential Training
  5. Licensure Examinations
  6. Internship/Residency (Optional)

Steps to Become a Pharmacist

Becoming a Pharmacist has challenges to spread on your pathway. However, the journey offers more significant opportunities and wider gates to graph up your career in this Pharmacy sector.

Following are the steps to become a Pharmacist; you can get a holistic idea about where to go from which point and cross your ways accordingly one by one to finally get the license to practice your designation as a Pharmacist in the practical world.


You should have a background of subject-specific prerequisite knowledge related to science and mathematics to enter Pharmacy school. In addition, you must obtain a bachelor’s Degree after schooling in a stream related to Pharmacies, like biology, chemistry, or biochemistry.

However, a bachelor’s Degree is not always required for becoming a pharmacist, and many medical schools have specific requirements and eligibility for admission.


Irrespective of your bachelor’s degree, you must complete your prerequisite coursework to qualify for the Pharmacy. In addition, you can learn subjects like chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and humanities to prepare for your firm foundation.

Different medical schools might have variable prerequisites in their subjects and topic learning. You can check the requirement for the college you want to apply for your Pharmacy course.


You will be tested and accessed with your knowledge and abilities in the relevant pharmacy education at this step. In addition, you will need to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), and the required score is sufficient per the admission eligibility Criteria.

Many Pharmacy colleges require this PCAT exam as a standardized test to measure your competency and caliber for the Pharmacy. Course. Here, your passion will be disclosed.


After obtaining your prerequisite coursework and standardized PCAT score, you can start to apply to the Medical Pharmacies schools for your Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) programs.

Usually, the application process involves submitting your academic transcripts or prerequisite coursework (if applicable), PCAT scores (if applicable), letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a personal message.


Now you got the admission to your desired college, or according to your eligibility criteria, you will be required to complete your Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program. This program will generally last four years.

During this Pharm.D program, you will generally engage in subjects to learn your Pharmacy, covering topics such as Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacy Law, Therapeutics, and other Pharmacy Practices.


4 Years of Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D); once completed, you must obtain the license to practice the knowledge you’ve gathered in your Pharmacy coursework.

Typically, two exams are involved in obtaining the licensing, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination – (NAPLEX) and Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination – (MPJE). The latter is a state-specific pharmacy law exam.


Once you obtain your licensure to practice your Pharmacy for becoming a pharmacist, you can get involved in some internship or clinical setup. You will have to get a real-world exposure and try your hands at practicing your profession.

There can be additional state-specific requirements like working or practicing under supervision for specific hours or having an internship or training experience.


Suppose you want specialized training and hands-on experience in specific areas or fields in your Pharmacy career, such as clinical pharmacy, ambulatory care, or research. In that case, you might pursue a post-graduate residency or fellowship program.

Residency or Fellowship Program can be an option for you which might take you one to two years but provides specific domains, detail-oriented knowledge, and valuable experience to expand your career.

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Do Pharmacists Go to Med School?

Pharmacists and Physicians both are different, having different educational paths and work profiles. However, both work together in healthcare settings; pharmacists do not attend traditional medical schools providing physician-focused training.

Do Pharmacists Go to Med School

The domain of Pharmacy usually focuses on the pharmaceutical sciences, medication management, and the clinical aspects of pharmacy practice, which is different than the focus of Physicians.

There can be some overlapping in healthcare practices, but they both have distinct educational paths and areas of expertise. However, they can collaboratively work and provide comprehensive patient care.

Medical schools are primarily designed to provide lessons on diagnosing, treating, and managing various diseases and medical conditions. On the other hand, the field of Pharmacy requires the study of pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, and pharmacy practice.

Pharmacists’ expertise lies in their extensive knowledge about drugs and their effects on the body; they have a more profound understanding of the mechanisms of drugs, drug interactions, and optimizing medication regimens.

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How Hard is it to Become a Pharmacist?

Due to the rising demand for Pharmacists in the healthcare sector, the admission process in Pharm.D has become competitive. Moreover, to attain the licensure, you must sit for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and a state-specific pharmacy law exam (such as the MPJE).

How Hard is it to Become a Pharmacist?

The rigorous proceedings about becoming a Pharmacist ensure access to the necessary competency and knowledge of the subjects for safe and effective Pharmacy practice. However, meeting the admission requirements may be challenging and different for each medical school.

For most top med schools, the eligibility requirements are similar and competitive, yet not that difficult to achieve your desired medical school admission.

Along with the prerequisite foundational coursework in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and other related subjects to get into the Doctor of Pharmacy, you may also need to consider the following factors based on different admission committees of medical colleges.

  • Academic Performance
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Interviews

During your coursework, students may require to complete the clinical rotation and internship in various Pharmacy and healthcare settings.

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This article briefly discussed how to be a pharmacist, the steps to follow, and the pharmacist requirements. We also have tried to highlight the difference between the work profiles of Pharmacists and Physicians, whether Pharmacists go to med school, and how hard it is to become a Pharmacist.


Do pharmacists go to med school?

As long as you have pre-pharmacy education or pre-requisite coursework in your undergraduate studies or bachelor’s degree, you do not require to go to medical school.

How many years to become a pharmacist?

It typically requires 6 to 8 years in total to become a Pharmacist with licensure and start practicing your Pharmacist work in the healthcare settings.

Is being a pharmacist hard?

No, being a pharmacist is not hard. Remember, it’s all in the mind; if you have enough potential, dedication, and perseverance to go through years of education and training, you will become a pharmacist.

What do you need to become a pharmacist?

You must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree from an accredited institution and pass Licensure Examinations and Experiential Training with hands-on experience.

Brie Larson

Dr. Brie Larson, a seasoned physician, brings a wealth of medical knowledge and a strong commitment to patient education to her role at Medical Grants Help. A graduate from Stanford University School of Medicine, she has honed her expertise through years of patient care, delivering comprehensive healthcare services for individuals of all ages. Brie has a particular interest in expanding access to medical services through grants and funding initiatives. With her broad-based medical experience and a passion for patient advocacy, she navigates the complexities of medical grants, striving to make them more accessible for those in need. A steadfast believer in the transformative power of medical grants, Dr. Larson guides readers through the often overwhelming world of funding options, simplifying the process for patients and their families.

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