3 Tips to Help You Become a Pharmacist

If you’re looking for a rewarding job with plenty of demand and lots of income potential, you might look into pharmacy school. But before you do, there are some important things to know.

Why Become a Pharmacist?

Pursuing a career in pharmacy can be rewarding, lucrative, and enjoyable. Most pharmacists work in commercial locations, such as drug stores, supermarkets, and other big-box stores, while a smaller segment of the industry finds employment in hospitals and healthcare facilities. It’s a flexible career option that provides numerous benefits, including:

1. Stability

You’ll never have to worry about your skillset going out of demand or becoming irrelevant. Even with a large supply of pharmacists in the industry, you won’t have trouble finding employment.

2. Lucrative pay

The mean pay for pharmacists is $121,710 per year. (That equates to $58 an hour.) Those in the top 10 percent of the industry bring in around $159,410 per year (or $76 an hour). If you’re looking for a job that provides six-figure earning potential, this could be it.

3. Versatility

The beauty of being a pharmacist is that you get to wear multiple hats. There’s the medicinal, technical side of things where you fill prescriptions. Then there’s also the patient-side of things where you get to interact with people and build relationships. If you’re someone who needs both of these elements, you’ll find immense satisfaction in this job.

4. Purpose

It’s hard to find a job that has a greater purpose than that of a pharmacist. Your entire mission is to help patients get better and feel better as quickly as possible. You quite literally have the ability to change lives and save lives. That’s a powerful purpose!

Not everyone is cut out to be a pharmacist. It requires years of education and disciplined professional maneuvers to work your way into the right opportunity. Having said that, it’s a worthwhile endeavor for those who are passionate about the field. If it’s something you’re interested in, you should certainly pursue it.

3 Tips to Becoming a Pharmacist

Interested in becoming a pharmacist? Here are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind:

1. Choose a College Track

There are essentially two different educational paths you can pursue in order to become a pharmacist. This first path involves a traditional undergraduate program where you obtain an undergraduate degree and then enter graduate pharmacy school.

“ The other path is a combined — or dual degree — program, where you earn both your bachelor’s degree and PharmD over the course of the program,” CollegeVine explains. “Dual degree pharmacy programs are also commonly referred to as ‘0-6’ programs because they typically last six years; the first two years are spent on pre-professional study and are followed by four years in a professional pharmacy degree program.”

Technically, either track works. But if you want to be most efficient about becoming a pharmacist, the dual programs are much better. Not only can you avoid taking the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), but you also get your PharmD at least two years sooner than most people.

2. Select a Good Program

Not all pharmacy programs are created equal. As you research different options, consider the curriculum and training. What sort of approach do they use? And what about technology?

For example, many of the top programs now use a system called VALT for pharmacist OSCE training. This video recording solution uses advanced technology to train you in real-world clinical scenarios. As a result, you end up better prepared for your licensing examinations.

The more familiar you become with different technology like this, the more educated your due diligence will be. 

3. Take and Pass the Exam

In order to practice as a pharmacist in the United States, you’ll have to pass two different exams. The first is the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, better known as the NAPLEX. The second is the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam, or MPJE. In addition to these exams, some states have their own requirements.

Jumpstart Your Career

You don’t become a pharmacist by accident. It’s not something you think about one day and stumble into the next. It requires years of hard work and discipline just to get started in the industry. But don’t let that prevent you from pursuing this career. As competitive as it can be, you’ll find pharmaceuticals to be an incredibly rewarding and lucrative choice.