How To Become A Pharmacist

how to become a pharmacistHave you been wondering about a career as a Pharmacist? Have you been searching for ways on how to become a Pharmacist and received mixed results. Well, this article will outline the steps you’ll need to take in order to become a Pharmacist. I’ll warn you up front, this is not one of those careers that you’ll learn in two years of vo-tech school. Or, I should say that it’s not one of those careers that Uncle Sam will allow you to become a Pharmacist in a short amount of time thanks to the lobbying by the Universities and Colleges around the country. Time was when you could become a Pharmacist with as little as 4 years of College. But not any longer. Expect to study for 8 years or so in order to be licensed as a Pharmacist! But hey, if you’re still reading, let me get into the meat of the subject and show you how to become a Pharmacist.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Pharmacist?

There are courses where you can complete Pharmacy courses in as little as 6 years. But I’d say this is not the norm. The course for the 6 year programs goes like this. You’ll need to find a 0-6 year program and apply for it. It’s best if you do this while you’re still in High School.

They’ll be interested in your SAT score as well as your GPA. In other words, if you’re a slouch or slow learner, it will take you a lot longer to go through Pharmacy school. Even if your grades and scores are high, some schools with these programs require an interview, so you’d better brush up on your interviewing skills if you want to shave some years off of your studies.

This course usually takes about 2 years of completing pre-requisite work. And you’d better keep those grades up! If you pass this hurdle, you’re generally allowed to enter a 3 to 4 year Pharmacy course.

After this course of work is finished, you’ll then be ready for a year (or two) of residency or a fellowship. Some students try and skip the residency route because it’s an option in most states, but it’s very difficult to find Pharmacist who are willing to train you, especially if they’re independent. Having an experienced Pharmacist looking over your shoulder for a year is a wise investment in your future. They’ll show you the ropes and help prevent you from making mistakes. After all, that’s what Residency is all about!

The Traditional Way Of Becoming a Pharmacist

As I stated above, expect to go to school to become a Pharmacist around 8 years. I’ve heard some that go as long as 10 and even 12 years! In my opinion, that ridiculous and we only have the Education lobbyist to thank for it. More money in student loans and to Universities and Colleges.

In the past, you could receive a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, but that is no longer given out. Now the term is a Pharm.D program.

More than likely you’ll have to pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) and then choose and apply to the Pharmacy school you want to attend.

Now all that time won’t be spent in Pharmacy school. More than likely, you’ll need a Masters Degree in one of the sciences such as biology, chemistry, physical science, etc. before obtaining your Pharm.D degree.

But, you’re not through yet! Once you have graduated with your degree, you now must pass the State Licensing test in the State you wish to practice in! See, there are no guarantees that you’ll receive your license even with 8 or more years of college!

How Much Do Pharmacist Make?

Well, with all that specialized schooling that you’re required to obtain, you’d think that Pharmacist would bring down Lawyer or Doctor type money wouldn’t you? Such is not the case.

Most Pharmacy students start out around $50,000 to $60,000 per year. That sounds great until you realize that you have a pile of student loan debt to pay off! OUCH!!!

If you go into a specialized field of Pharmacy, you can expect to make more. Of course, this is true of any field of specialization you may go into.

The good news is that in most areas, Pharmacist are in great demand. With a year or two experience, some pharmacist are making a 100k or more per year according to an article I read on There are even some companies willing to pay you a sign on bonus! Now that degree is paying off isn’t it?

The down side is, don’t expect too many pay raises over the course of your career. Pharmacy is one of those career fields where the pay is stagnant over a long period of time. You’ll have to be creative in order to find ways to get higher pay. Heck, you might even want to start your own Pharmacy down the road!

I hope this article has helped you answer some of your questions about how to become a Pharmacist.