It takes 6-8 years after high school to become a pharmacist. Find out how long each step of education and training takes as well as what skills you need.
A career as a pharmacist can be rewarding and allow you to make a difference in your community’s health.
As a pharmacist, you will be in charge of reviewing patient medications and ensuring that they are properly dosed.
You’ll instruct patients on how to take their medications and inform them about potential side effects or drug interactions.
You could even serve as a coach to ensure that your patients take their medications on a daily basis and live healthy lives that include a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
You might be interested in a career in pharmacy. How long does it take to become a pharmacist, though? Continue reading to find out how long it takes to become a pharmacist and what it entails.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?
After high school, it can take six to eight years to become a pharmacist.
However, if you want to specialize in a specific area of pharmacy, it may take longer.
To work as a clinical or hospital pharmacist, for example, you may need to complete an additional year or two of residency.
Other factors can also influence the length of time it takes to become a pharmacist.
Pharmacist Educational Requirements
How long it takes to become a pharmacist depends on what educational track you pursue.
If you have your sights set on becoming a pharmacist, you can fast-track your pharmacy education right out of high school.
In general, completing a pharmacy degree in six years is more intense than completing it in eight years.
Complete pre-pharmacy Requirements
Pharmacy schools don’t require that you have a particular undergraduate degree.
However, many schools require that you take relevant coursework to prepare you for a career in pharmacy.
Pharmacy school prerequisite courses may include biochemistry, calculus, and anatomy, among others.
People who pursue a pre-med or pre-pharmacy track are often well-prepared to tackle pharmacy school. If you have any doubts, you can also talk to your school’s academic adviser for guidance.
Apply for Pharmacy School
If you’re researching potential pharmacy schools to attend, you should make sure that the school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Some pharmacy schools will require the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) to enter their program while others consider it optional.
In some cases, your PCAT score can help bolster your application.
After submitting your application, the school of pharmacy may call you for an interview. They may also ask you why you chose to pursue pharmacy and whether you have any relevant volunteer or work experience in a pharmacy.
Complete Pharmacy School
Pharmacy degree programs include a mix of didactic and experiential learning.
In other words, you’ll learn the foundations of pharmacy in a classroom setting and then apply what you learned through practical experiences in a real pharmacy.
Those hours spent in that experiential, practical setting can count towards the clinical internship hours required to receive a license from the state board.
Pharmacy programs can be rigorous, and they typically include classes like pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, and pharmacokinetics.
After completion of the program, you’ll earn your Pharm.D., Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
Get Licensed as a Pharmacist
To be a licensed pharmacist in the U.S., you’ll have to complete requirements as determined by your state.
Requirements may include:
A Pharm.D. degree from a school accredited by the ACPE
Completion of a certain number of clinical internship hours (usually around 1,500 hours)
Passing scores on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)
Passing scores on the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or other state pharmacy law exam
For graduates of international pharmacy schools, passing scores on the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEC)
These requirements can vary depending on the state you’re planning to get licensed and work in.
Additional Training for Pharmacists
Most people think of a retail pharmacy when they hear about pharmacy.
They might think of a pharmacist counting pills all day and dealing with insurance companies. But there are many other options.
You might decide to be a clinical pharmacist who works closely with other healthcare professionals in a hospital environment.
You might choose to work in oncology to monitor the use of specific drugs in cancer patients.
If you’re interested in research or the pharmaceutical industry, you would apply for one to two years of specialized training called a fellowship after pharmacy school.
In total, for people who want to specialize, it can take eight to 10 years to become a pharmacist.
After Getting Licensed
Your pharmacy education doesn’t stop after you’ve become licensed.
State pharmacy boards generally require you to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education (CE) to keep your state license.
Most states require at least 30 hours of approved CE credits every renewal period, which is every two years.
In conclusion, the road to becoming a licensed pharmacist can be arduous. Despite advances in new technology and drug knowledge that continue to develop and change the pharmacy landscape, pharmacy jobs are here to stay.