What to do after Pharmacy School: A Must-Read Guide

Are you not sure about what to do after Pharmacy school? Pharmacy is the curriculum in which you learn so much about traditional compounding services, clinical services, providing drug information, health care services, efficacy, and much more. After Pharmacy, you can select from numerous available ways. For a clear idea, it is essential to have proper knowledge regarding what you will do after the completion of the course.

However, it is okay if you do not have any plans. That’s fine. In this detailed guide, we will share with you what you can do after doing Pharmacy School. After going through late night studies and hard work during Pharmacy school, now you are getting ready to bring a change in your life.

Before you select any of the ways mentioned in this list, make sure you deeply understand it because it will create a big impact on your career. The reason why students often get confused about what they should do after graduation is because they didn’t get proper guidance about it beforehand.

When Do Pharmacy Students Take the NAPLEX?

The NAPLEX is the examination which is issued by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), and it is utilized by the boards of pharmacy as part of their assessment of competence for practicing the pharmacy. The full name of NAPLEX is North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination. The purpose of the NAPLEX exam by the National Association Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is to test out the candidate’s knowledge of the practice of pharmacy. NABP outlines each of the 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, and the five major U. S. territories. South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, and it utilizes the NAPLEX for licensure.

The candidate can apply for the NAPLEX exam after the completion of the Pharmacy school. In the USA, the pharmacy curriculum is at least 6 years. Once you complete the pharmacy degree, you will have to apply for FPGEE and TOEFLIBT examination so that you can FPGEE certification. This is an essential factor you have to follow to apply for the NAPLEX examination.

After passing the NAPLEX exam, you will get a license to practice as a registered pharmacist. The purpose of NABP for taking NAPLEX examination and testing is to check out whether it will be safe to begin practicing for the candidate as an entry-level pharmacist or not.

Hence, it is essential to meet all the eligibility criteria of the board of pharmacy from which you attempt to get licensed. The board will test out and determine your eligibility based on the jurisdiction’s requirements. Once you become determined to be eligible, the board will notify the NABP about your eligibility. Then, the letter will be issued to you by the test administrator consisting of information about how to schedule your testing appointment.


NABP has developed a pre-NAPLEX examination for practicing purpose. The candidates who attend Pre-NAPLEX will get a chance to preview the NAPLEX examination experience before the main day. This exam will be internet-based, and it can be accessed from any computer or laptop.

The great thing is the candidate can sit for the pre-NAPLEX exam at any time on any day. It will have a total of 100 questions, and two forms of Pre-NAPLEX will be available. For each Pre-NAPLEX examination attempt, the cost will be $65. To purchase the Pre-NAPLEX, you can use Visa, Mastercard or American Express debit card or credit card.

The objective of conducting the Pre-NAPLEX exam is to benefit the candidates who are preparing for the NAPLEX examination. To purchase the Pre-NAPLEX, there are no eligibility requirements set. Anyone interested may purchase it.


NAPLEX is the examination conducted to determine the knowledge and ability of the candidate in a more accurate manner. The exam contains 250 questions delivered in a computerized and fixed form. Out of 250 total questions in the test, 200 question will be operational, that will be used to calculate your test score. Remaining 50 questions will be referred to as pretest questions that will be not used to calculate your test score.

After passing the NAPLEX exam, you will get a license to practice as a registered pharmacist. The purpose of NABP for taking NAPLEX examination and testing is to check out whether it will be safe to begin practicing for the candidate as an entry-level pharmacist or not.

Procedure for Foreign-Trained Pharmacists

Apart from the NAPLEX test, there are some other tests as well. The tests we will mention here are for the foreign-trained pharmacists to get licensure in the United States. These tests do not apply to you if you are a United States citizen, permanent resident, or an illegal immigrant. Here are the steps you have to follow:

1. Take Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Exams (FPGEE)

FPGEE is a 250 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) computerized examination, which is of five and half hours of the testing period. As per the new rules imposed in January 2012, the FPGEE examination score report would be valid for five years from the examination date. After a five-year time, the marks will not be considered valid.

FPGEE exam is conducted twice a year, and it is only conducted in the United States. The test includes questions regarding basic biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, social/behavioral/administrative pharmacy sciences, and clinical sciences.

2. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL is the second step you have to follow if you are a foreign-trained pharmacist. The goal of this test is to check out the listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills of the applicant. And, the minimum score must be secured by the applicant is reading – 21, listening – 18, speaking – 26 and writing – 24.

3. Obtain Certification

After completing these two steps, the next step is to obtain certification of FPGEE. Once you will pass FPGEE and TOEFL examinations and submit all the required documents, you will get the certification.

4. North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)

Now, you have to take the NAPLEX examination. This exam is compulsory to become a licensed pharmacist, whether you are a US resident or a foreign candidate. NAPLEX is the examination conducted to determine the knowledge and ability of the candidate in a more accurate manner. The exam contains 250 questions delivered in a computerized and fixed form.

5. Take the Pharmacy Law Test

Once you complete all the four steps mentioned above, the last step is to take the pharmacy law test. Once you pass the pharmacy law test and all the exams mentioned here, you will be licensed as a foreign-trained pharmacist.

Applying to Jobs after Pharmacy

Another situation you face after the completion of pharmacy school is getting a job. Chances for whether you will get a job or not is based on how competitive the market is in a particular geographical area.

If you are not stuck on one location look outside of your are even in remote areas where the salary will increase along with other benefits like paying off your student loans among others.

Job Search Tips for New Pharmacy School Graduates

Follow these tips to get your first job:

1. Improve your Resume

The first tip before you go for a job search is to improve your resume. Your resume speaks a lot about your skills and abilities. You must write the resume in such a manner that it should convince the interviewer that you are the right fit for a particular job position.

Recruiters just spend a short amount of time checking each resume, and by spending a few seconds, they make a decision about whether you will be right fit or not.

Don’t be afraid to send your resume out to have it professionally done to a place like Fiverr or Upwork. It is well worth it especially when first starting out. A lot of word doc templates can be very frustrating to deal with.

2. Go through online job portals

One of the best ways for landing to the dream job in this digital age is checking out job requirements on different online job portals out there on the web. There are numerous job positions out there in the market. All they need is a right and skilled candidate for the job.

Download some apps like Indeed or Monster set up notifications for any new jobs. One great trick is going to old jobs that haven’t been filled do your research but you can likely ask for more money and also more vacation to start out with. You may be a good fit just to repeat do your research on these jobs as there is a reason whey they aren’t filled.

3. Networking

Networking can be really effective when it comes to job searching. Networking is really powerful; do you know almost half of the jobs are acquired through networking? You can start involving yourself in career fairs, alumni network events, local pharmacy meetings, etc.

Join Pharmacist Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups and pages as well.

4. Know about interview procedures and practice it

When you go for an interview, the employer knows whether you would be the right fit or not just by checking your resume and interviewing you for a few minutes. That’s why it is essential to focus on important part, i.e., knowing the interview procedures and starting its preparation. Knowing and understanding the interview process would help you in passing the interview easily.

Get online and lookup example interview questions have your significant other, family, or friend ask you the questions. Maybe have them come up with their own random questions so you can be caught off guard.

5. Social Media Presence (especially LinkedIn)

You won’t believe it, but social media can land your first dream job. Around 60% of employers use various social media networks. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can give a basic idea to employers about your skillset and education qualifications.

LinkedIn is best for job search. On LinkedIn, you can set up your profile and start creating connections with various employers.

Career Opportunities after Pharmacy School

Here are some career opportunities you have after completing pharmacy school:

  1. Community Pharmacy
  2. Clinic Pharmacy Practice
  3. Governmental Agencies
  4. Geriatric Pharmacy
  5. Home Health Care
  6. Hospital Pharmacy
  7. Managed Care
  8. Pharmaceutical Industry
  9. Pharmacy Education


Another good option you have after completing pharmacy school is residency. After the completion of your graduation, you can join various programs for pharmacy residency. Generally, a residency program may take from 2 to 5 years. But, if you want to keep gaining more and more experience, it will take longer.

After the completion of graduation, the residency program is a good way to start your career in the clinical pharmacy. The residency program helps in developing the skills of providing pharmaceutical care to various patients, and it also helps in knowing more about hospital settings. Apart from this, the residency program also helps in building a good network with other pharmacists.

The main reason why you should do residency pharmacy training is that ACCP (American College of Clinical Pharmacy) and ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) stated that all the pharmacists in direct patient care roles should have residency training by the year 2020.

Pharmacy residency is essential because, within the 2 to 5 years of time duration, the candidate gathers great experience and becomes more than just an entry-level pharmacist. Also, hospitals nowadays prefer hiring residency-trained pharmacists for roles such as patient care. Residency pharmacy training is also very beneficial when you cannot afford to spend money on a degree.

Pharmacy residency is divided into two postgraduate years. In the first year of pharmacy residency, you build up your knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitude by working upon accredited professional pharmacy program. Once the candidate completes the first year of pharmacy residency, the basic medications and management become improved.

The second year of residency pharmacy helps in focusing on a specific area of practice. As the first year of the program builds up the basic knowledge, the second-year program builds thorough knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities so that the student can gain a good level of expertise. Some of the areas offered in the second year pharmacy residency are ambulatory care, critical care, cardiology, emergency medicine, geriatrics, infectious disease, drug information, nuclear,  internal medicine, oncology, pediatric, and managed care pharmacy systems.

Final Thoughts

After the completion of pharmacy school, generally, students get confused about what they should do now. If you are also one of those who have not prepared any plan about what you will do after the completion of pharmacy school, there is nothing to worry about.  Most all pharmacists have been there.

In this article, we have discussed three different options available after graduating from pharmacy school. Those three things are – completing your NAPLEX, applying for jobs, and getting into a pharmacy residency.

NAPLEX gets you licensed to practice as a registered pharmacist. Applying for jobs is easier these days with the internet so just be picky if you can be don’t just pick a job just because it is open. And, doing residency helps you learn more and gain experience.


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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