May be you have wanted to become a pharmacist. However, do you know how long it will take you to become one? As you look through various degree programs in pharmacy, you may be taking into account how much schooling you will need, and more specifically the number of college years you will take to successfully become a pharmacist. So, how long does it take to become a pharmacist?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacist?

If you have an an associate’s degree, you might be able to achieve the goal of becoming a pharmacist with 6 years. If not, it usually takes 8 years.

Earn a Bachelor's degree

People eyeing the pharmacist profession should get a bachelor’s degree from a reputable university or college. It will be an easy thing for the average student to complete all the required courses in a period of 4 years for the degree program. The program primarily includes various science classes.


Attend pharmacy school

Students joining a pharmacy institute to attain a doctor of pharmacy degree would take at least another 4 years. Therefore, you will need about 8 years to become a qualified pharmacist. Students in a pharmacy school mainly learn everything about medicine and most importantly, how to assist patients to know how medication can be taken properly. This includes advice on any side effects that the medicines could carry. 


Take the NAPLEX Examination

Becoming a licensed pharmacist would require an individual to excel in the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination exam. This is usually a 4 ½ hours exam with 185 questions in multiple choices. The test is usually done on a computer where the pass mark is pegged at 75% and above. This is the only way that a certificate can be awarded to an individual. 

Requirements to Become a Pharmacist



Specialized degrees are a must for pharmacists, normally at the PhD level. These are competitive programs with various courses and scientific knowledge. Science and math classes are usually a good foundation at the high school level. A degree in applied mathematics, biology or chemist will just be perfect for a pharmacist in making.



A license is very much needed to make an educated pharmacist to work. The job of a pharmacist is highly specialized because it deals with medication and giving advice to patients. A qualified pharmacist must be crowned with a license to carry out the role without any challenges.



Experience either at the field or on job training is requisite in many regions. In some authorities, an individual is required to go through an apprenticeship program to learn the practice before they can start working on their own. 


Core job duties

A pharmacist can carry out duties in various settings. This may include a retail pharmacy, medical clinics or in a hospital. However, a pharmacist can work in other fields like research, health policy or in manufacturing. Any of these fields can be good places to start off.

How to Increase the Chance of Being Admitted to Pharmacy School

Get a solid background in related subjects

Pharmacy school is primarily a place where chemistry students can find themselves. On top of this, students must show a keen interest in both inorganic and organic chemistry. Therefore, anyone with intentions of joining a pharmacy school should focus on these subjects. A robust background in science will give a student in the pharmacy school an easy time going through the admission exam.

Develop a wider range of interests

Though a solid background in science is important, pharmacy schools are also willing to enroll students whose background is in history and business management. Pharmacy schools have realized that students with diverse interests succeed well at school and can adapt to dynamics in the field. Additionally, students with a wider subject view could actually be a lot more qualified for a range of jobs required for contemporary pharmacists. This includes the insurance companies and other organizations together with the daily pharmacy operations management.

Pass the PCAT

In most cases, pharmacy institutions place a demand on passing the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) with certain scores before considering anyone for admission. This score varies from one school to another. However, a high score gives an individual a better chance to get a pharmacy school admission than those with lower marks. Any individual eyeing a career in pharmacy must be prepared for this test.

Career Paths for Pharmacists

A pharmacist who has acquired a valid license can follow up a job in any region that needs the services of a pharmacist. This may be a health clinic, a drug store or a hospital. Many different areas need a pharmacist’s services and so, there can be a variety of many job opportunities.

Work in hospital pharmacies or public health clinics

Pharmacists can find their job in hospital pharmacies and in public health clinics as well, dealing with dispensation of medicines for patients. The pharmacists may not have a lot of contact with the patients in these areas; instead, they deal with nurses and doctors asking for prescriptions for their patients. 

Get employed in private pharmacies

Pharmacists who work in privately owned pharmacies dispense medicines from drug stores directly to the patients based on the orders given by doctors. They may also work for companies dealing with drugs and other organizations doing research and development in the pharmaceutical world.

Obtain a managerial position in health institutions

Pharmacists with a higher level of education like doctoral or master’s degrees can take management positions in big health institutions. They may also work together with the management in other fields especially in insurance companies, private organizations and drug companies. A person with these higher degrees may end up being consultants to a number of drug companies or other organizations and help them in researching, developing and marketing newly found products.

The journey of becoming a pharmacist is indeed a long one, sometimes competitive and expensive. However, it is a lucrative profession which is among the highest paying degrees. Jobs in the pharmaceutical world are naturally in good demand. A pharmacy degree is therefore one of the best degrees around.


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