How Do You Become a Pharmacist?

With careers in health care fields in increasing demand, many people wonder how they can become a pharmacist. This prestigious profession offers excellent pay and a low-stress schedule with regular daytime hours. It requires a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree as well as knowledge of medicine and the treatment of many illnesses.

Pharmacist Prerequisites

As a pharmacist, you’ll dispense prescription medications to patients who are under the supervision of a doctor. You will also be responsible for performing blood tests and other common exams for customers buying medication at your pharmacy. The steps to becoming a pharmacist are fairly straightforward. You should ensure that you have the necessary interest in natural sciences before you begin this process. Your education will require four to six years of medical school and three to four years of undergraduate training in science. If you believe you would be a good fit for the pharmacological profession, you have a very stable, reliable career to look forward to.

Training to Become a Pharmacist

If you’re still in high school, you can get a head start by taking any science classes that are available at your school. To gain experience in chemistry and biology labs, you can enroll in the appropriate advanced placement courses. If your high school offers statistics and other advanced math classes, you should take them to prepare yourself for college-level coursework.

As a college undergraduate, you will need to have a strong introduction to math subjects that are relevant to chemistry and biology. Calculus, statistics, and trigonometry are the most important math classes for pharmacy majors to take as undergraduates. You should also have exposure to biology, chemistry, biostatistics, bioengineering, computer science, and any other natural sciences you find interesting. It may not be necessary to complete your bachelor’s degree before enrolling in pharmacy school, but finishing your undergraduate studies will help to place you in valuable internships as a medical student.

Other Requirements to Become a Pharmacist

Before you begin practicing pharmacology, you will need to finish your studies, receive your Pharm.D. degree, and complete any residency hours required by your state. You will also need to become licensed to practice pharmacology, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Obtaining a license involves completing a rigorous certification process that includes two comprehensive professional exams as well as a standard pharmacology training program. This program is included in the curriculum of many pharmacy schools, but you may be required to complete this step separately if your school doesn’t offer this option.

Salary and Job Prospects for Pharmacists

Pharmacology is a high-paying field with steady growth projected for the future. The median annual salary for pharmacists is $124,170, according to the United States Department of Labor. If you have family obligations or other responsibilities distracting you from your career, you can still expect to earn a respectable $87,420. Pharmacists who reach the top 10 percent of earners in this field make around $159,410. Over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6 percent job growth in this field.

Related Resource: The Top 10 Cities With the Most Health Care Jobs

A pharmacy career is a dream job for many young people and adults who love science and want to help people stay healthy. If you think you have the interest and determination to become a pharmacist, you should begin your journey by speaking with a guidance counselor.