How to Become a Pharmacist

How to Become a Pharmacist: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a pharmacist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a pharmacist:


Those who become pharmacists must be able to constantly pay attention to details, and have the self-discipline to check their own work.


They must be able to work on their feet all day, and be willing to serve people regardless of their mood. Aspiring pharmacists must also be able to meet the educational and licensing requirements needed to become a pharmacist.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a pharmacist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education & Licensing To Become a Pharmacist in the United States

To become a pharmacist in the United States you need to complete a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree. The coursework of a Pharm.D. program typically includes pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and pharmacy administration.


During your undergraduate years in college or university, be sure to complete coursework in chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy and physiology. Being a pharmacist also requires excellent communication skills, so speech and composition classes are also highly recommended.


To become a pharmacist in the United States, you must also pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Most states also require that you pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which is a test regarding pharmacy law.




Pharmacist Job Description

Pharmacists are responsible for treating diseases and disorders through drug therapy and wellness promotion. They complement the healthcare provided by doctors by providing collaborative medication management services to patients that have been prescribed medicine. 



Pharmacist Job Duties

• Determine the proper drug therapy for patients

• Collaborate with physicians, nurses, health care administrators and others in the treatment of patients

• Provide non-prescription and prescription drugs as well as health care aides and devices

• Provide patients with advice regarding the safe and proper use of drugs

• Provide patients and caregivers with advice regarding the selection and use of drug and non-drug products

• Compound, prepare and dispense drugs

• Supervise drug distribution systems in order to maintain public safety

• Administer drug and other health-related programs such as structured medication reviews



Education & Licensing to Become a Pharmacist in Canada

To become a pharmacist in Canada, you need to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. Upon completion of your bachelor’s degree, you need hundreds of hours of practical training under the guidance of a licensed pharmacist.


In Canada the profession of pharmacy is regulated on a provincial and territorial level. These provincial and territorial licensing authorities assess the competency of pharmacists in order to ensure the safety of the public. For a detailed look at the specific provincial and territorial licensing requirements in every province and territory, visit the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA).



Who Hires Pharmacists? Where Do They Work?

Pharmacists don’t just work in pharmacies; there are many employers that utilize the skills, knowledge and competencies that pharmacists have to offer, including:


• Independent and franchise-owned pharmacies

• Hospitals and clinics

• Pharmaceutical manufacturers

• Federal and provincial/state government agencies

• Colleges and universities

• Professional, advocacy and retail bodies



Pharmacist Salary: How Much Do Pharmacists Make?

The salary level of pharmacists can vary depending on a number of factors, including their level education, their level of experience, where they work, and many others.


Pharmacist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as pharmacists earn an average wage between $43.57 and $56.75 per hour. The mean wage for workers in this occupational group is $50.16 per hour.


Pharmacist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary of pharmacists in Canada is $113,698 per year.


Pharmacist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of Pharmacists is $111,570 per year. The lowest 10 percent of workers in this occupation earn less than $82,090, and the top 10 percent earn more than $138,620 per year.




Personal Characteristics Needed to Become a Pharmacist

In order to become a successful pharmacist you need to posses certain personality traits and soft skills. Below is a list of traits that separate those that excel as pharmacists from those that are mediocre:


• Must be able to serve members of the public regardless of their attitudes

• An interest in providing care for people from all walks of life

• Must have excellent communication skills

• Excellent organization skills

• The ability to work under pressure

• A high degree of integrity

• Ability to maintain awareness of advances in the pharmaceutical sciences

• Able to work on feet all day

• Must be able to pay attention to detail while performing repetitive tasks



Work Environment for Pharmacists

Work Conditions: Typically, pharmacists work on their feet for the majority of their workday. They must serve members of the public, and perform very repetitive tasks. It is crucial that pharmacists pay close attention to detail, as mistakes in their work can have very negative consequences, such as those relating to the health of their patients, legal issues for their pharmacy and themselves, and damage to their career.


Work Schedule: Most pharmacists work full-time, normal weekday working hours. There are however many pharmacists that work part-time, as well as those that work irregular hours, such as evening and weekend shifts, or 7 days on, 7 days off shifts.



Careers Similar to Pharmacist

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Pharmacist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Biomedical Engineer


Pharmaceutical Chemist





References: How to Become a Pharmacist

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a pharmacist.



Occupations in Alberta:Pharmacist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 7, 2020.

Healthcare:Pharmacists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 7, 2020.

Pharmacy in Canada:Pharmacists in Canada.” (October 29, 2019). Canadian Pharmacists Association website. Retrieved January 7, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Pharmacist

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Pharmacist can be found on the following pages:


Biochemistry Scholarships

Biology Scholarships

Chemistry Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Pharmacist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a pharmacist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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