A pharmacist does more than count pills and disperse medications. Being a pharmacist requires many years of education in the healthcare field. Here are some tips to guide you through the process of becoming one:
Start preparing early. If you want to become a pharmacist, you need to start preparing in high school. Your GPA needs to meet the minimum requirements of the college or university you want to get into. Aim for a GPA of at least 3.5. If you can maintain high grades in high school and your SAT scores are commendable, then you should have a good chance of getting accepted in the pharmaceutical program of your choice at college.
Complete the required amount of coursework. There is necessary and specific pre-education for pharmacists. Although the requirements for each school vary, you will likely need to complete at least two years of prerequisite course work, with high marks in all courses. After this, you will be eligible to apply to pharmacy school.
Complete pharmaceutical school. After you complete your initial few years of prerequisite course work, you can then apply to and complete a pharmacy program. You will be required to complete and pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) before you can apply to the school of your choice. Once you are accepted, throw yourself into your coursework so that you are successful. This will likely take 3-4 years, depending on your course load, grades and program.
Consider doing a residency. Once you have graduated, you've done just about all you need to do to reach your career goal. If you feel like you need to have some hands-on experience after you graduate, you have the option of completing a one-year residency working with a pharmacist. This is an optional choice, but may give you the confidence to start your career. It may also lead to potential jobs.
Get licensed. Depending on the state where you plan to work, you will probably need to get your license. Each state has a required test that is mandatory for pharmacy grads before they can legally begin practicing. This licensure needs to be renewed every two years in most cases.
Apply to pharmacist jobs. After school, your optional residency and licensure, you're ready to start your career. All you need to do is get a job as one! Apply to pharmacy jobs listed in your local classifieds, websites, and at drugstores. If you are having trouble finding employment, make sure you explore all avenues. Talk to every pharmacy in your town to see if a position is available. Put your name and résumé out there so that people know you are looking. And don't hesitate to take a lower-ranking position until you prove yourself and gain a bit more experience. Once you have put in your time as an assistant, you'll have an even better chance of becoming a pharmacist.