Pharmacist Career Requirements

The world of pharmacy is a fascinating one. It’s not just about dispensing medicine to patients- there are many more aspects that go into the profession, including health care administration, research and education. Becoming a pharmacist requires dedication, hard work and determination… but it can also be very rewarding! In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know about becoming a pharmacist so you can make an informed decision on whether or not this is the career for you.

Table of Contents

What Do Pharmacists Actually Do?

Pharmacists are medical professionals who specialize in prescription medications issued by doctors and physicians. They play a vital role in helping people get optimum results from their treatment or therapy. Pharmacists are involved in the preparation, dispensing, delivery of medicines, counseling of patients on safe and effective use of their medications. They have sound knowledge regarding drugs’ chemical, biological and physical properties, as well as their manufacture and use. Other healthcare professionals rely on pharmacists to choose and administer medications that provide the best results and improve the quality of life. Pharmacists also prepare customized medication plans for the patients and participate in ward rounds at a hospital. They are actively a part of the team of healthcare professionals who devise plans to reduce the spread of infection, conduct clinical trials or focus on patient populations or specific disease states. They also interact with patients and educate them on post-op treatment plans, diet, and exercises. The demand for a pharmacist is increasing as the world is making progress in the medical field.

What Can Pharmacists Specialize In?

Just like medical doctors, pharmacists can become board certified as specialists in certain disciplines. The board of pharmacy specialties allows certification in different areas which are listed below:

  • Ambulatory care
  • Cardiology
  • Compound sterile preparations
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psychiatric pharmacy
  • Solid-organ transplantation
  • Nutrition support
  • Critical care
  • Geriatric
  • Infectious disease
  • Nuclear pharmacy
  • Nutrition support

Basically, specialization allows the pharmacist to take on a more active role in patient care, particularly in complex cases, which require specialized treatment and care.

What Actually Makes A Successful Pharmacist?

A successful pharmacist is someone who is hard-working, detail-oriented, and has sound knowledge about drugs. Pharmacists should have good communications skill because a pharmacist interacts with a number of clients on daily basis. A successful pharmacist also has a good moral character and displays honesty and takes responsibility seriously. Apart from these, a successful pharmacist should possess the following traits:

  • Good leader: a pharmacist should be a good leader because often nurses and other technical staff rely on pharmacists for their day-to-day operations.
  • Commitment to care: Pharmacist vows to take their job seriously because they are responsible for the well-being of patients.
  • Attentive: A pharmacist should be vigilant to ensure patient’s safety and prevent any adverse events related to the treatment or medication
  • Team player: A successful pharmacist is also a team player and works in collaboration with other healthcare providers to devise the best treatment plans for patients.

Should I become A Pharmacist Or Pharmaceutical Scientist?

Well, it totally depends on the interest of the student but before choosing, you should be aware of the job responsibilities of a pharmacist and a pharmaceutical scientist.

Pharmaceutical scientist: If you want to become a pharmaceutical scientist then you should know that they work in laboratories and offices to develop new medicines, vaccines, and form new ways to administer medication in order to enhance the efficacy. They focus on research work such as drug manufacturing, medical technology, biotechnology, and cosmetic sciences, among others. Their work is mainly focused on improving the existing ways of medication administration.

Pharmacist: A pharmacist is responsible for providing direct patient care, assisting other healthcare staff in formulating treatment plans, providing patient counseling regarding their medication. Pharmacists are also a part of the programs which are aimed at reducing the mortality and morbidity rates in patients. Pharmacists also work in a hospital setting and collaborate with other professionals like clinicians to formulate the most effective treatment plan by considering the specific needs of the patients.

Pharmacy College (PharmD)

What Do I Need To Do To Become A Pharmacist?

In order to become a pharmacist in the U.S., you first need to earn a 4- or 5-years degree in pharmaceutical sciences from an accredited institution. After you have cleared the degree, then you have to pass a state pharmacy license exam. The pharmacy institutes are institutions are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). However, a related degree will not permit you to practice pharmacy in the U.S. so in order to become a pharmacist earn a Pharm D. degree. Paid experience or volunteering in a healthcare department or private clinic will help you in performing better in pharmacy.

How Long Does It Take To Get MY PharmD?

The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program requires at least two years of specific undergraduate college study followed by four academic years (or three calendar years) of professional pharmacy study. Many students enter a pharmacy degree program after completing their three or more years of college.

Can I Get My PharmD In Less Than 4 Years?

There are a few accelerated Pharm. D degree programs are designed for the students. The 2-3 program structure consists of a minimum of 2 years of pre-pharmacy study followed by three years of accelerated professional study which leads to a Pharm D. degree. The curriculum is scheduled year-round, so candidates may complete the PharmD degree in less than 4 or 5 years. So, it depends on the degree of program you want to get enrolled in.

Can I Go Directly To Pharmacy School Right After I Get Done With High School?

There are many pharmacy institutions that offer 0-6/7 programs in which students are admitted directly after their high school. They are often advanced to the professional level through an expiated program, but this only will happen if they complete all of the program’s pre-pharmacy and interview requirements. Additionally, some pharmacy schools offer an early assurance route for undergraduate college students.

Do I Need A Bachelors Before I Even Apply To Pharmacy School?

The Pharm.D. degree requires at least 2 years of undergraduate study followed by 3-4 years in the Pharm.D. curriculum. Some pharmacy schools require or give preference to students with a bachelor’s degree. Visit the Enrollment Options table on the PharmCAS Compare Programs page to learn whether a bachelor’s degree is required by a pharmacy school. The Program Structures page provides a description of the Pharm.D. degree pathways. The BS Pharmacy Science List features pre-pharmacy and other feeder programs offered by AACP member institutions.

If I Already Have A Degree In Healthcare or Science Does It Take Less Time To Get My PharmD?

It doesn’t matter if you have a degree in healthcare or sciences because it does not reduce the timings to complete a Pharm D degree. Applicants who have got the degree in any relevant field still need to complete 4 years of education in order to be eligible to sit in the state pharmacy licensing test to earn a practicing license. However, in the end, it all depends on the administration of the pharmacy institutes, if they can accommodate the applicants and can offer course waivers.

If I Want To Be A Pharmaceutical Scientist What Do I Need To Get A Degree In?

To enter the field of pharmaceutical scientist, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree ( 4 years), with a strong emphasis on the sciences such as biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Those who want to pursue this field should major in one of the below-mentioned domains:

  • Medicine
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Pharmacy

What Is The Easiest Way To Find A Pharmacy School In My Area And Apply?

The easiest way to find a pharmacy school in your area is by visiting PharmCAS School Directory. Fill up the filters according to your geography and a list of schools offering Pharmacy programs will appear.

Pre-Pharmacy Academic Requirements

What Are The College Courses I Need To Have Before Applying?

To be honest, the course requirements are different for different pharmacy schools. However, the common college prerequisite list involves:

  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Statistics
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy

pharmacist career requirements

Do I Need To Actually Major In Pre-Pharm or Chemistry Before I Apply?

No, it isn’t necessary to do major in pre-pharmacy or chemistry before applying, only 10% of students in recent years had chemistry as their major subject. Most applicants have biology as their major subject. Most of the students who enter pharmacy school have a mix of major subjects, business, biochemistry, English, pharmaceutical science, and psychology. Everyone, no matter what their last major subject was, is welcome to explore and build their career in pharmacy. If the pharmacy courses are not required in your undergraduate program, you can complete these voluntarily.

What Are The GPA Requirements For Pharmacy Schools?

Every pharmacy school has its own GPA requirements. Most pharmacy schools accept applications if the GPA of a student is 2.50 or above. Applicants not meeting the GPA requirements at the time of application will be considered for review again after the PharmCAS Fall and/or Spring Academic Update.

Do Class Rank Matter When I Am Applying To Pharmacy School?

Class rank matters in every school and college of pharmacy. The administration department gives importance to the rank of their applicants in the previous class. Colleges prefer students with exceptional ranking, curricular, and students who have the potential to perform well in this profession. This ranking system is actually to show the capabilities of students so that teachers can easily teach them and help them in making their careers in the pharmacy profession. They display the merit lists on the basis of the previous rank of their participants.

If I Do Poorly In A Pre-Pharmacy Class Do I have To Retake?

Every institution is different in policies in repeating the subjects for good grades. If you performed poorly in the required science subject, You can give repeat your course in order to get good grades and perform better. This can increase the chances for required GPA and admission in the pharmacy school, The pharmacy school will consider your current course grades to calculate your GPA collectively. Repeating a course always gives a chance to gain more knowledge and to overcome all the difficulties for students. This ranking system is actually to show the capabilities of students so that teachers can easily teach them and help them in making their careers in the pharmacy profession.

What Kind Of Experience Do I Need Or Do They Suggest That Will Help Me Get Into Pharmacy School?

Most pharmacy college requires students to have experience of volunteering or paid work with patients in any health department or private clinic. Volunteer experience or ongoing work can play an important role in getting admission to pharmacy college. Students who have less experience in practicing pharmacy are encouraged to get experience from any pharmacy school or college in their area to get guidance and assistance. Past experience in the pharmacy field can help you to stand out your application in the number of other applicants. This will make a positive impression and make you more eligible for admission.

Do I Need Letters Of Reference?

Yes, you can need a cover letter. Most pharmacy college demands a recommendation letter as an important part of the pharmacy admission procedure. This reference letter can be of some specific individual like a professor, pharmacist, or academic advisor. If your pharmacy college demands a reference letter then choose the required individual who knows you well and can speak to your dependability, dedication, communication skill, maturity, and experience in this department. Reference letters are given much importance because they are proof of your professional, personal and responsible behavior. Before giving admission every institute makes sure about the potential of their students.

Do I Actually Need To Be Interviewed For Pharmacy School?

Yes, all colleges and schools of pharmacy require an interview as part of the admissions process. The main purpose of the interview is to assess the communications skills along with the applicant’s ability to think critically. So, before the interview, every applicant should be well prepared to be able to answer the questions confidently. This is basically to accomplish your goal, qualification, and passion for your field.

Is there any chance that you will be required to have an interview while applying to pharmacy programs?

Yes, almost every pharmacy college requires an interview as a part of their admission procedure. This will help them to choose more easily among the most competitive participant. No institute wants to hire less competitive and talented people in their field. Through an interview, they usually judge the work ethics, professional vision, and knowledge of their students. Most students pass the written test but couldn’t make it through the interview because of their less confidence and experience.

What should I anticipate at the pharmacy school interview?

The interview format for admission is different in different institutions. They can ask to speak with a single student, a pharmacist, a faculty member, a panel of interviewers or to take part in an orientation program. They can ask about your plans in adopting pharmacy as a career and your vision about the role of pharmacists in the healthcare department. Participants with experience and more knowledge in the field are most likely to answer all the questions more confidently and accurately. They will judge you on your communication skills, your knowledge of pharmacy, your passion for your field, and your ability to solve any problem in pharmacy.

What if I’m unable to attend my appointment?

If you are not available on the interview day of your admission, you have to submit an application or inform the administration during the two working days before your interview. Any sudden cancellation or not attending the interview will give a negative and non-professional impression. Every pharmacy institute has its own policies on reacting to this non-professional act. Any emergency situation is not counted in this policy.

Is it true that most Pharm.D. programs have a comparable application?

Yes, most of the participants in the pharmacy colleges have competitive participants for admission. As the demand and importance of pharmacy are increasing more people want to pursue their career in this field. WHO has estimated that approximately 2.6 million people are in the field of pharmacy. Pharmacy schools give admission to the top-ranked participants, who also have experience in this field.

Is there a typical purpose for pharmacy (M.S./PhD) programs in science?

The centralized application can be taken from the admission office of the institute and can be used to apply in multiple programs like MS and Ph.D. This application has multiple options of choosing the field and detail to get admission in the school. No matter in which department you want to get admission you’ll require a centralized application.

Is there a common application for 0-6/7 and early assurance programs?

Pharmacy college offers an efficient, simple procedure to apply directly to enter the pharmacy program while using an online application. Centralized application is designed to apply directly for any program in the field of pharmacy.

Do pharmacy schools give preference to “in-state” applicants?

Yes, there are some pharmacy schools that give preference to in-state applicants. Out-of-state or foreign applicants have to compete for a limited number of seats or at times they are ineligible. State-owned institutions give preference to in-state applicants whereas public pharmacy schools offer a huge number of seats to foreign and out-of-state applicants. You can find a list of both public and private pharmacy schools on the PharmCAS School Directory.

Are there many returning adult students in pharmacy programs?

A number of pharmacy applicants are returning adult students who wish to change careers. The past experience may not offer and favor in the admission process. Many pharmacy schools do not offer course waivers even if an applicant has experience in a related field or who has a degree in a similar program. Some pharmacy schools may need science and math college coursework to be 5-10 years old only. If the coursework exceeds 5 years, then the school administration may ask you to retake the classes to be eligible for admission. Admission offices do not consider your age in the evaluation of your application.

If I have a criminal record, can I go to pharmacy school and become a pharmacist?

Yes, you can still go to a pharmacy school and become a pharmacist if oy have a criminal record. All you have to do is disclose any previous felony to the pharmacy school. A previous criminal record will not necessarily stop you from enrolling in pharmacy school but if you fail to disclose it to the school, then this may lead to rejection. Some pharmacy institutes run background checks or drug tests in order to verify the student’s ability to participate in experiential education rotations. This is also necessary to ensure the student’s eligibility for a pharmacy license and patient safety.

PharmD Admission Test

What Is The PCAT?

The Pharmacy College Admissions Test or PCAT, is designed in a way to assess the skills and abilities of a candidate that are required to excel and succeed in a pharmacy institution. Currently. The AACP institutes require PCAT for admission to pharmacy programs. The test is designed especially for pharmacy schools and is divided into separate sections and subsections each one of them is time-sensitive. During the time allowed for each sub-test, the student will only be allowed on that particular test and will not be allowed to go back and reattempt the section.


There are five different subtests on the PCAT:

  • Written: In this part, the test takers are asked to present a solution to the stated health or science-related issues. They are scored on how well the essay is written.
  • Biological processes: In this part, the questions are presented either in a group form accompanied by short passages or as stand-alone items that need to be answered individually.
  • Chemical Processes: the questions are presented in the same way as the biological subset and are related to chemistry mostly.
  • Critical reading: this part includes readings passages
  • Quantitative reasoning: This part includes problem-solving scenarios. The candidates will be given different health-related scenarios and they have to critically analyze each scenario and present the solution, on the basis of which they will be scored.

Do All Pharmacy Schools Require A PCAT For Admission?

There is a list of pharmacy schools that require PCAT for admission. To check whether a college or school requires PCAT for admission, click on the required test section or school pages here: School Directory | PharmCAS.

What Are The Minimum PCAT Scores that will be considered for Admission?

The PCAT is scored on a scale from 200 to 600 with 400 being the median value. To score a 90% on the test, the candidate has to score 430 or above marks. Every school and college have their own minimum standard set. So, if you wish to apply to a particular pharmacy school/college you should talk to their administration and get the desired information regarding the passing criteria of PCAT.

How Do I Register For The PCAT?

In order to register for PCAT, you should visit PCAT’s official website.

How Do I Sent The PCAT Scores To PharmCAS?

You can self-report your PCAT score to PharmCAS, by simply visiting the standardized test section on the PharmCAS website. If you apply to PharmCAS school that needs results of your PCAT, then arrange for Pearson Inc. to release your test scores to PharmCAS code 104. This way PCAT will send the results of your most recent test along with the results of your previous attempts over the past five years to PharmCAS.

Foreign Applicants And After You Graduate?

What tests need to be taken as a non-native English speaker or international students required to take?

For international or non-native English speakers, are required to submit the result of their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Test of Spoken English (TSE) to demonstrate English language proficiency. For more information please check the International Applicants section on each page in the PharmCAS School Directory.

Can Foreign pharmacists that were trained out of the U.S. practice pharmacy in the United States?

The foreign pharmacists that were trained out of the U.S. and are wishing to practice pharmacy in the country must be certified by the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee, or FPGEC. FPGEC is a committee of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which examines if a pharmacist is fit to practice in the U.S. The committee provides a document that demonstrates the educational equivalency of a person’s foreign pharmacy education. Foreign pharmacists have to earn their Pharm D. degree from a well-reputed education institute in order to apply for FPGE certification.

School Rankings

What Are The Best Ranked Schools In The U.S. And How Are They Ranked?

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy does not rank the schools that offer pharmacy education in the U.S. and do not endorse any such website that ranks pharmacy degree programs. Each school in the U.S. that offers Pharmacy education is granted permission after an extensive accreditation process, to ensure that the programs meet the high standard of excellence. Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education ( ACPE) accreditation is public recognition that a professional degree program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree is judged to meet established qualifications and education standards through initial and subsequent periodic evaluations. So, one should choose a pharmacy program after thorough research. There is a list of potential institutes on the PharmCAS School Directory, that offer pharmacy education. This list can help you narrow down your choice of an institute that offers pharmacy education and is accredited.


What Do The Different Accreditation Statuses Mean?

Accreditation statuses show that a school has met all the necessary criteria and is maintaining a high level of standards set by an accrediting body. To learn more about the different accreditation statuses please visit:

Should I Apply To A New PharmD program with no accreditation status to date?

Yes, if you wish to apply to a new Phar D, a degree in PharmCAS with no ACPE status to date, you will be asked to apply to at least one additional program with accreditation status before you can submit your final application.

Should I Actually Enroll or Apply To New Pharmacy Schools?

Pharmacy schools/ colleges are not fully accredited until and unless they do not graduate their very first batch of the professional class. So, students who enroll in a new pharmacy institution take a big risk if the institution does not achieve candidate or full accreditation status at that time. Graduates from unaccredited institutions are not eligible to sit in a state competitive exam or they are not allowed to practice pharmacy in the U.S.

Financial Aid

What Is The Average, High and Low Cost Of Pharmacy School?

Tuition fees for pharmacy school differ for each program and very much depend on the factor that the institution is private or public. To get information regarding the tuition fee, visit the website of the schools/colleges that are offering Pharmacy related programs or you can visit Pharm.D. Tuition Trends Interactive Dashboard.

Does American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Offer Financial Aid?

AACP Financial Aid and Scholarships: The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) does not offer any financial assistance programs directly to students.

Distance Learning

Is There A Way To Complete Your PharmD Online?

Yes, the students can complete their Pharm D. degree online. To view a current list of Pharm.D. degree programs that offer an online or distance pathway for students, please visit PharmCAS School Directory.

Practicing Pharmacists With B.S.

I am a practicing Pharmacist with a B.S. in pharmacy can I get my PharmD Online?

There are some colleges and schools which award a Pharm D. degree to students online. There are many other programs that offer practitioners the opportunity to enroll themselves in specific academic courses designed to offer a defined set of practice competencies to practitioners/students. If you want some specific detail about which colleges or schools are offering online certification or degrees, you can visit PharmCAS School Directory.

Final Thoughts

Pharmacy is a fascinating and rewarding profession that requires dedication and hard work. If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacist, this article will provide you with all the information you need to get started. We’ve covered the basics of what pharmacy is, what degree you need, the pre-pharmacy classes you’ll need to take and how to prepare for the admission test. So if you’re ready to embark on a new career journey, pharmacology may be just the right path for you!


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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