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How to Become a Pharmacist

There is a lot more to starting a pharmacy career than simply deciding to be a pharmacist. You can pursue many different jobs with a pharmacy degree, so you need to explore your options before applying to pharmacy school. Your chosen area of specialization will impact your education, training, and licensing requirements. Knowing which pharmacy career path you would like to follow can ensure you select the most relevant courses and extracurricular activities for your specialization.

Advanced eClinical Training has the pre-pharmacy programs you need to prepare you for your future career in pharmacy. You can start with our Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) course to help you get your foot in the door and assist pharmacists as you pursue your education. When you are ready for pharmacy mentorship, you can move on to our Pre-Pharmacy Mentorship Program (PPMP) to receive one-on-one guidance from our expert pharmacist advisor. 

Education and Licensing Requirements for Pharmacists

While the requirements for starting a career in pharmacy will vary depending on which pharmacist career you choose, the overall requirements are relatively similar for all future pharmacists. This is what you can expect:

  • Enroll in a Doctor of Pharmacy program fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) to earn your PharmD.
  • Once you have earned your PharmD degree, there are two exams you must pass to get your license. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) covers general pharmacy knowledge and skills, while the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) focuses on your awareness of your state’s pharmacy law.
  • After passing your exams and getting licensed, you can begin applying for pharmacy positions. You will be required to complete training on the job.
  • If interested in an advanced pharmacy career, such as a research or clinical position, you will need to complete a residency, which will add another one to two years to your path. A two-year residency will provide the opportunity to gain experience in geriatric and internal medicine, further expanding your pharmacy career options.

Additional training may be required for more specialized positions, so it is recommended that you consider your pharmacy career option to best prepare yourself. 

Which Pharmacy Career Do You Want?

When you earn your PharmD degree, you have a wide array of career options. Consider which types of pharmacy careers are most appealing to you to help guide your education and training. Some of your choices include:

  • Retail pharmacist – This position makes up a large percentage of pharmacist jobs and is the one most commonly envisioned. You will spend the majority of your time interacting with patients, dispensing medications, and providing education on prescriptions. 
  • Hospital pharmacist – This position is similar to a retail pharmacist, but your interactions will shift more toward the doctors and nurses on a patient’s care team.
  • Ambulatory care clinical pharmacist – This position involves working closely with patients and a care team to fine-tune care plans for patients with specialized needs such as diabetes or mental health disorders. You will look at the big picture to determine the best pharmaceutical intervention for the patient’s health.
  • Veterinary pharmacist – In this role, you may not necessarily work directly with animals, but you will be involved with dispensing medications for them. You can also teach classes for veterinary students or take on a position testing and researching medications for animals.

The above are just a small sampling of pharmacy career options as there are well over 100 different career paths for those with a PharmD. One of the best ways to get to know more about each of the different types of pharmacy careers that interest you is to shadow others. This can show you firsthand what goes into the job, the skills and qualities needed, and the work-life balance afforded. 

Advanced eClinical Training: Self-Paced, Online Pre-Pharmacy Programs to Support Your Pharmacy Career

Advanced eClinical Training can support you on your pharmacy career journey with convenient, affordable online medical programs designed specifically for Pre-Pharmacy students. With our Pre-Pharmacy Mentorship Program (PPMP), you will benefit from one-on-one guidance with an expert PharmD. Our pharmacist advisor has experience in multiple areas of pharmacy, including retail, hospital, ambulatory care, and nuclear pharmacy, so she can help you explore your career options to find the best fit.

Enroll today to begin earning your Pharmacy Technician Certification or join our Pre-Pharmacy Mentorship Program (PPMP) to discuss your future career with an expert PharmD. 


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