How to become a pharmacist in 2021

Filed in Articles by on 10th September 2021

If being a pharmacist is your dream profession, here’s everything you need to know on how to become a pharmacist in 2021. 

How to become a pharmacist in 2021

How to become a pharmacist in 2021

Whether you’re working at a local pharmacy, at a hospital, or administering vaccination to the public, the demand for pharmacists is high and the pay is great.

In this simple, easy-to-digest post, you’ll learn:

  • Who is a pharmacist?
  • How to become a pharmacist in 2021?
  • How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?
  • How Much Do Pharmacists Make?
  • And lot’s more

Let’s get started.

Who is a pharmacist?

A Pharmacist is a healthcare professional who specializes in using, storing, preserving, and dispensing medicine in the right way. With their extensive knowledge of prescription medicines, they can prescribe medication to patients, and counsel the patient on how to use the medications. In large hospitals, they fill and dispense prescriptions issued by doctors to patients.

How to become a pharmacist in 2021?

Below are 5 straight forward steps on how to become a pharmacist in 2021

1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree or Complete a Pre-Pharmacy Program

A Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree is compulsory to become a licensed pharmacist. Before you can get into a Pharm.D. program, you will have to go through a 2-year pre-pharmacy program or a 4-year bachelor’s degree program in pharmacy science. This may not always be the case as some schools prefer their applicants to have a bachelor’s degree instead. 

Topics commonly covered in these classes are anatomy, biology, physiology, and chemistry. At the same time, a Bachelor’s program will cover topics in biochemistry, pharmacology, and pharmaceutics.

2: Obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree

In the first year of your 4-year pre-pharmacy or bachelor’s program, you’ll be focusing on natural sciences – chemical, biological, and physical – as they relate to pharmaceutical science. 

Depending on the program, the curriculum will now focus on the clinical aspect. Courses will be on pathology, pharmacokinetics, and therapeutics. During your fourth year as a pharmacist, you’ll gain practical experience in patient-care settings. 

3: Get a Pharmacist License

To be able to practice as a pharmacist in any country such as the U.S or UK, you must have a license. In the US, after getting your Pharm.D, you’ll need to write and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). A 185-question, computer-based exam, and is used by all states to test a pharmacist’s knowledge of pharmacology and ability to evaluate health information, produce and supply medications, and measure therapeutic outcomes.

In other US states, the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) is required. It consists of 90 multiple-choice questions that evaluate their knowledge of the state’s pharmaceutical laws. The NAPLEX and the MPJE exams are administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy ( Depending on what your state determines, you may need to take additional exams.

4: Consider Postgraduate Training

After completing a Pharm.D. program, it will be worth going for additional training through fellowships or pharmacy residencies. A 1-2 year post-graduate program can help you improve your career. For example, if you want to work in a clinical setting or a hospital, you’ll want to go for a residency program.

5: Job prospects

There are many job prospects and employment opportunities available as a pharmacist. Pharmacists can be employed at Retail health stores, grocery stores, department stores, hospitals, wholesalers and outpatient care centers, and even pharmaceutical manufacturers or institutions.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?

The number of years it takes to become a pharmacist depends on the career path you follow. It’s either you go through a traditional undergraduate program and spend 2 – 4 years studying, and complete all pre-requisite courses to strengthen your application when applying to graduate pharmacy programs.  

The other path is a dual degree program, commonly referred to as “0-6” programs. This is because you will earn both your bachelor’s degree and PharmD in 6 years of studying the program. The pre-professional study focuses on the first two years while the remaining four years will be spent in a professional pharmacy degree program.

The benefit of the “0-6” programs is two-fold: one is that students won’t need to take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), and will get their PharmD sooner than later.

For the first path, going through an undergrad degree first will then require 8 years in total to get a PharmD (4 years undergrad, 4 years PharmD). So the 6 years of a dual degree program is more preferable. But that’s not all. Pharmacists students may still have to complete their residency 1-2 years after their PharmD, thereby making it 9-10 years in total on the traditional path and 7-8 years on the other one.

One advantage of going for the “0-6” programs is that students can usually apply in high school and definitely get admission into a PharmD program by the time they complete their undergraduate requirements. Though the programs may or may not be on a longer timeline, the main benefit is that admission into the pharmacy school is guaranteed, and the students do not need to take the PCAT exam or apply to PharmD programs.

How Much Do Pharmacists Make?

According to the BLS, a pharmacist’s average annual wage is $123,670. In the US, there are some certain states where pharmacists earn the most. They include Alaska ($139,880), California ($139,690), Vermin($135,420), Maine ( $133,050), Wisconsin ($132,400), Oregon ($130,480), Minnesota($129,080), Missouri($128,420), Washington ($127,360) and New Hampshire($127,350). 


How many years does it take to be a pharmacist?

The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree program takes at least two years of undergraduate college study and four academic years of professional pharmacy study. After completing three or more years of college, the majority of these students enroll in a pharmacy degree program. 

What qualifications do you need to be a pharmacist?

Basic entry requirements include a four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree completed and approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Pharmacy students can do a two-year Pharmacy foundation degree if they do not qualify to enter an MPharm degree. 

What is the quickest way to become a pharmacist?

The quickest way to become a pharmacist is to go through a pre-pharmacy program. A pre-pharmacy program takes about two years to complete while a bachelor’s degree takes about four years.

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