How Long Does It Take To Become A Pharmacist?

With advances in the medical research, physicians and health practitioners rely on prescription medication to heal patients. But there needs to be a gatekeeper who dispenses the meds that is one role of the pharmacist.

The druggist holds a professional doctorate degree and understands the relationship between medications, so he/she provides the patient with instruction on the safe use of these chemicals.

If you are considering a career as druggist, lets start by answering the question, how long does it take to become a pharmacist?

Prerequisite education requirements to become a pharmacist

In the United States, a pharmacist holds a doctorate or professional degree, which is known as the Pharm.D. an entry-level degree for druggists.

To get a Pharm.D., you need to go through pharmacy school. First, though, youll need an undergraduate education.

Pharmacy programs vary about your undergrad studies. Some require a bachelors degree; others require a minimum of two years of undergraduate study.

If you are a high school student, you may be able to find a school near you that offers a 6-year program that culminates in a Pharm.D.

There are many different options, but for most people, they will get a bachelors degree, which will take four years to obtain, then apply to pharmacy school.

Pharmacy school will last another 3 to 4 years.

Note: When choosing a program, you want to make sure it is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. There are currently 113 that hold accreditation through the United States.

Normally, the time it takes become a pharmacist is 8 years four for a bachelors degree and four for a Pharm.D. There are exceptions, though.

After you graduate with a Pharm.D., you will need to sit and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which tests your skills and knowledge.

Also, you will need to complete any other processes your state requires to ensure you are registered. This may involve taking a state-specific exam or taking the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE).

This information can be obtained from you local State Board of Pharmacy.

What do they do?

Pharmacists do more than fill prescriptions behind the counter.

They make sure patients will not be harmed by the script the doctor prescribed by reviewing medications the patient is currently taking.

A druggist will provide patient instruction about potential side effects from the prescription, along with answer general questions about over-the-counter drugs.

They will also consult with the prescribing physician or healthcare provider if he/she believes there may be an interaction between chemicals prescribed.

He/she may administer flu shots and other vaccinations and provide general advice about health topics and supervise pharmacy technicians.

The role of a druggist does depend on the work location. Those who work in community drugstores will see patients daily but may not have as much contact with them as someone who works in a clinical hospital.

Clinical hospital pharmacists may spend their days doing rounds with the physician or other health care provider and will recommend medication dosage and timing.

Remember, a pharmacist understand the chemical makeup of a medication and how to apply it in the most effective manner whereas a physician understands the general pathology and what is needed to help the patient get better.

Chemists may also find jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. These careers may involve research, development, sales, and marketing.

The research and development side may include researching and conducting experiments to create new pharmaceutical compounds and designing and conducting clinical trials to test for efficacy, side effects, and other outcomes of the chemical.

Salary for Pharma.D. grads

A pharmacist requires a professional education, which means salary corresponds to that training.

The median annual salary for a druggist in May 2012 was $116,670, which is a wage of $56.09 per hour.

The higher-than-average pay is also attributed to the hours they work.

Because many community pharmacies are open 24/7, a druggist may need to work nights and weekends during those times and dates there may be a shift differential.

The lowest 10 percent still earned a good wage at $89,280 per year or $42.92 per hour. The highest 10 percent brought a weekly pay of $70.14 or $145,910 per year.


As Obamacare takes over the United States and medical research continues to advance, careers in the pharmaceutical industry will rise.

Aging patients such as Baby Boomers will require more prescription medications, and the more people insured under Obamacare will mean more scripts being written by physicians.

This means more prescriptions filled and more consultations with patients.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that this career is expected to grow at least 14 percent by 2022.

Percentages dont always provide the full story. In terms of numbers, that percentage equals a growth of about 41,400 pharmacist positions by 2022.

Whether you choose to be a druggist right after high school or your undergraduate studies, I hope this article answered your question about how long it takes to become a pharmacist.

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