As careers in pharmacy are growing nowadays, more and more people are enrolling in this program. To become a pharmacist, one needs to work hard and get educated well. People often ask this question,
Can you become a pharmacist without going to university or school?
The simple answer to this question is NO. You cannot become a pharmacist without getting a formal education or without going to school. Pharmacy is not like other educational programs or courses that can be learned without passing through formal education. To become a professional pharmacist and get licensed, you have to go to school, work hard, educate yourself, get a degree, apply and pass examinations, and get licensed.
Duties of Pharmacists
A pharmacist is a medical professional who provides drugs to patients as per the prescription provided by the physician or a clinician. To become a pharmacist, going through formal education is very important. Without formal education or going to school, it is not possible to become a pharmacist.
The main task of pharmacists is to prescribe the medications and also to educate patients on how they should take medications and various reactions/problems they should be aware of. It is also very important for pharmacists to accurately measure and package the medications. The medicines must be measured and packaged after considering the dosage and safety of the patients.
To help you understand why it is important to have formal education to become a pharmacist, here we have discussed various duties of pharmacists.
- Fill prescriptions
- Verify instructions from physicians
- Educate patients on how and when they should take medicines
- Educate patients about potential side effects they may have to experience from taking the medicines they have prescribed.
- Educate patients on health topics like stress management, diet, exercises. etc.
- Keep an eye on the work of pharmacy technicians and intern pharmacists.
So, these are the main duties of a pharmacist. To get complete knowledge about various duties, roles, and responsibilities of a pharmacist, you must go to school or university and get a pharmacy degree. The duties of a pharmacist are not limited to the points we have mentioned above. The duties may change as per the situation.
Degree Required to Become a Pharmacist
To become a pharmacist, you need to have a PharmD or Doctor of Pharmacy degree. To get a PharmD degree, you have to complete two years of the undergraduate program and earn a passing score in the PCAT examination. After the completion of two years of the undergraduate program, you can start a four-year pharmacy program.
For the students of the US, students must pass NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) examination to get the licensed. NAPLEX is the examination for getting licensed to become a pharmacist after the completion of graduation. the requirements to become a pharmacist could vary from country to country.
The degree of PharmD is required to become a professional licensed pharmacist. But, if you plan to work with patients and medications, it is not mandatory to have a degree.
Pharmacy Job Positions That Do Not Require a Degree
Working in a pharmacy can be a great experience. If you want to work in the field of pharmacy, but you do not have a degree, don’t worry, some pharmacy job positions do not require a degree. So, if you are the one who is finding a way to get into a pharmacy without a degree, here are several job options available in the pharmacy:
The job description of a janitor is to work in buildings and keep them neat and clean. To become a janitor in pharmacies, you do not need any formal education. A janitor works in different locations. It may include retail stores attached to pharmacies. The janitor has to clean and maintain various locations and has the duty of cleaning the windows, sweeping, making the repairs to the building, cleaning messy areas, taking out trashes, etc. So, if you want to work in the pharmacy location without having a degree, janitor doesn’t need any degree. The approximate salary of a janitor can be $25,000.
2. Pharmacy Aide
The duty of a pharmacy aide is working as a cashier. Apart from working as a cashier, the pharmacy aides also have to do various tasks like taking inventory, putting away new medications, receiving new prescriptions, etc. While working as a pharmacy aide, you may also have to answer the phone calls and connect the patients to pharmacists when patients have any queries. The pharmacy aide does not handle prescriptions by themselves, and to become a pharmacy aide, one must have at least a high school diploma.
3. Retail Pharmacy Technician
The retail pharmacy technician job position can be a good choice for you if you do not have a degree in Pharmacy. The retail pharmacy technician works in the pharmacies that are located in retail locations. A retail pharmacy technician helps pharmacists to fill and distribute medications. There are various tasks of a retail pharmacy technician. Some of them are labeling medications for patients, measuring medicines, taking down customers’ details, etc.
In the job post of a retail pharmacy technician, you may work full-time and part-time as well. To become a retail pharmacy technician, you will need at least a high school diploma. You also need to learn various duties of a retail pharmacy technician through on-the-job training or attending a program. The average annual salary of a retail pharmacy technician is $32,000.
4. Call Center Pharmacy Technician
The duties of a call center pharmacy technician vary from the retail pharmacy technician. The main duties of a pharmacy technician in the call center are to take care of customer service and prepare prescriptions. It is very important to have good communication skills and people skills to get into this position. It is essential because, in this job position, it includes so much interaction with customers, doctors, and colleagues. Apart from this, you must be capable of reading and writing in English properly.
Apart from doing customer service duties and filling prescriptions, other duties of a call center pharmacy technician are recording pharmacy transactions, keeping cash registers up to date, etc. To become a call center pharmacy technician, you just need a high school diploma. The average annual salary of a pharmacy technician in a call center is $32,000.
5. Pharmacy Shipping Clerk
A pharmacy shipping clerk is another job position in a pharmacy that does not require a degree. The pharmacy shipping clerk works for mail-order pharmacies packaging and shipping out prescriptions. Some other tasks they perform are maintaining printers, packaging prescriptions, double-checking addresses, etc. To become a pharmacy shipping clerk, you just need a high school diploma. The average annual salary of a pharmacy shipping clerk is $33,000.
Starting off as a Pharmacy Technician then Going to Pharmacy School
Another path for you to become a pharmacist is first starting off as a pharmacy technician and then going to pharmacy school. The duties of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are very much connected as they work together in pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals. Even if you have gained enough experience as a pharmacy technician and you are ready to become a pharmacist, still, you need to must finish four years of schooling to become a licensed pharmacist.
Starting off as a pharmacy technician does not require having a PharmD or Doctor of Pharmacy degree. However, if you want to become a pharmacist after doing a pharmacy technician job, you will need a degree. After getting admission to pharmacy school and completing it, you will also need to pass important examinations.
After pharmacy school, you need to prepare for examinations so that you can get your license. In the US, Two examinations for licensure conducted are the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multi-state Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). As per the state regulations, you may need to pass one or both licensing examinations. So, starting off as a pharmacy technician and then going to a pharmacy school for education can be a good idea to broad up your skills and get higher pay.
Going to School Online
Technology has changed everything. With the advancement of technology, we can find changes in so many sectors like business, banking, education, etc. The technology made it possible for students to complete the degree without going to school. If you want to do a pharmacy degree, but it is not possible to enroll due to the job or any other reasons, then online education can be a good way to complete pharmacy school.
In the US, there are several online schools where you can enroll and complete your pharmacy degree online. Instead of traveling from home to school to attending lectures, you can attend live lectures by enrolling for an online school. This is the best advantage of online schooling because you are saving so much of your time by learning from home.
Attending online live lectures is not just enough. You do have to focus on assignments and projects you receive. The main difference you will find in an online pharmacy school is lab visits. The students on campus conduct lab sessions weekly, while distance students visit the campus for two weeks during the summer.
Studying from home is effective only when you create a dedicated study space. Studying from home is not less than a part-time job. You have to regularly spend a few hours each day into it. You may find a shortage of time when you try to do full-time and study from home together.
Top Online Schools for Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)
You will find so many online schools offering a Doctor of Pharmacy program, but you must select the good one. Here are some top online schools for PharmD:
1. Creighton University
Creighton University’s program for Doctor of Pharmacy is considered as the best online PharmD program. The university allows students to focus on the directions that interest the students. The university is accredited to the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The campus location of Creighton University is at Omaha, NE.
2. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver School of Pharmacy is another university that offers a distance education program for PharmD. The university is accredited to the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education. The campus location of the university is in Aurora, CO. The distance program by the University of Colorado Denver is designed to improve clinical care and the medical therapy management skills of students. To get the admission, the students must fill up and submit the application along with its fee.
3. Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Another top online school for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program in Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. The program provides great opportunities for students to enter the field of pharmacy. The campus location of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is at Erie, PA. The university is accredited to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. To get admission to this online school, students must submit a form with the application fee.
Students nowadays think about getting licensed of pharmacy without going to school. But, this is not possible because pharmacy is a job that requires proper qualifications and experience. Even after the completion of the pharmacy degree, you have to pass examinations to get licensed.
If you don’t want to do a pharmacy program and still want to work in this field, you have some options. Several pharmacy job positions that do not require a degree are Pharmacy Aide, Retail Pharmacy Technician, Call Center Pharmacy Technician, and Pharmacy Shipping Clerk.
Another option available to become a pharmacist is starting off as a pharmacist technician and then going to school. If you are not ready to get into school presently, then you can start off by doing a job and then getting admission. You can also get a pharmacy degree through online schools. Top online schools are Creighton University, University of Colorado Denver and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.