How to Become a Pharmacist in the United States

How to Become a Pharmacist in the United States

The pharmacist
profession is on the rise in the United States. Their work ranges from filling
prescriptions to owning a pharmacy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that
pharmacists’ employment in the United States will increase by 14 percent
between 2012 and 2022, which is about the average for all other occupations.
You might be wondering, ‘how can I become a pharmacist in the USA? Well, this
article will provide all the necessary information to help you jam start your
dream career. 

Training Required to
Becoming a USA Pharmacist

You must take a
Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) to be admitted to a pharmacy degree
program across the country. You only need a high school diploma to be eligible
to apply for a pharmacy degree program. Pharmacists are required to complete a
Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree program. You might be wondering the duration
it takes to be a pharmacist in U.S. Well, you need to enroll in the PharmD,
which consists of four years of course work that includes didactic and
experiential education. There are also shorter and longer courses that you will
learn as you progress. Didactic education covers the foundational course work
of pharmacy science (i.e., pharmacokinetics). It also covers basic courses like
ethics and pharmacy law. The experiential curriculum contains the practical
aspects of the coursework. Which include:

  • Interprofessional Education (IPE) happens when students from
    different training programs in the medical and social professions learn in
    a collaborative setting throughout their degree programs. Notably, this
    creates a more collaborative work environment and contributes to
    patient-centered care in the field.

  • Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience
    occurs in the
    middle of the didactic coursework. It contains clinical rotations for one
    month in a hospital’s pharmacy setting.

  • Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience
    occurs in the
    last year of studying for the PharmD program after finishing the didactic
    coursework. It contains clinical rotations for a period of one to two

What are the Licensing
Requirements for a Pharmacist?

Notably, to apply for
a license, a pharmacist must take two licensing exams and pass. The first exam
is the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) for candidates in all
states. The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exams (MPJE) tests the laws,
rules, and regulations for specific states. Completing the PharmD program and
passing the license exams makes you a perfect candidate for the licensing board
to hand you a pharmacist license.

How Much a Pharmacist
Earns (Salary)

According to the U.S.Department of Labor, the top 10 earners in this field make more than
$145,910, and the lowest 10 percent make less than $89,280. Additionally, a
pharmacist’s salary in the US is an average of $120,950. Notably, this makes US
pharmacists the highest-paid in the world.

Types of Jobs for

There are many job
opportunities for pharmacists in America. Some can be achieved in the short
term, while others require more time to be achieved. Below is a list of the
types of positions a pharmacist can apply for throughout their career.

Pharmacist Positions
That Take a Short Term to Achieve

Pharmacy Dispenser – dispenses medicine with the supervision
of the pharmacist.

Job Description

  • Give medicines to customers as prescribed.

  • Giving customers the correct and
    appropriate advice on the medicine. 

  • Ensuring the confidentiality of the
    customer’s prescription.

  • Making sure all prescriptions are counted
    and endorsed correctly.

– their main job is
to tend to the customers by providing the best customer service while taking
orders of prescriptions and completing other administrative work.

Job Description

  • Providing basic customer service (i.e.,
    answering phones and greeting customers, etc.).

  • Takes in prescription orders and
    accurately processes them before handing them to the pharmacist.

  • They are responsible for printing receipts
    and prescription labels.

  • They offer any assistance needed by the
    pharmacy staff.

– their main
job is to assist the pharmacist in preparing and dispensing medicines to
clients and customers. They work in hospitals, independent pharmacies, and/or
supermarket pharmacies.

Job Description 

  • Giving out or taking in prescriptions.

  • Handling deliveries of medicines.

  • Ordering and labeling of medicine.

  • They refer problems to the pharmacist.

  • Prepares and dispenses medicines. 

– they
assemble the medicine, then supply the medicine and prescriptions to the
patients and customers.

Job Description

  • Maintain confidentiality when recording
    patients’ and customers’ medical histories.

  • Ensure patients’ and customers’ medical
    information is accurate. 

  • Counting medicine when filling

  • Performing audits.

  • Checking and processing customers’

Pharmacists – they are responsible for helping the
customers and patients in getting and understanding their prescriptions. 

Job Description

  • Confirms and verifies prescriptions with

  • They dispense the prescriptions to
    customers and patients.

  • Offers more information about the
    medicines to patients (i.e., drug interactions and how and when to take
    the prescriptions).

  • Advises or counsels the patients and
    customers on ways to live better and stay healthy.

  • They tackle some administrative work.

  • They submit insurance claims to the
    insurance companies. 

Pharmacist Positions
That Take a Long Term to Achieve

Long-Term Care
 – they
administer pharmaceutical help to long-term patients admitted or out-patients
in facilities. These patients can include cancer and diabetic patients, etc.
They give out medicines by refilling their prescription and giving advice and
counseling on the patients’ medicines.

Job Description

  • Confirms and verify prescriptions for
    long-term patients.

  • Dispense the prescriptions and medicine to
    customers and patients that require long-term pharmaceutical help.

  • Offer more information about the medicines
    to patients (i.e., drug interactions and how and when to take the

  • Advises or counsels the patients and
    customers on ways to live better and stay healthy.

Director of
– their job is
to monitor, plan, and direct the pharmacy’s financial, clinical, and
professional activities.

Job Description

  • Develop and implement policies that govern
    the daily work of a pharmacy.

  • Monitor the pharmacy personnel as they
    carry out their duties and responsibilities.

  • They monitor the purchasing of medicine,
    monthly financial data, and monthly inventories.

  • Ensures that the payroll data is accurate
    and complete.

Pharmacy Manager
they manage the
pharmacy’s leadership functions while overseeing the pharmacy operations on a
day-to-day basis.

Job Description

  • They manage the day-to-day activities of a

  • Tackling some administrative work.

  • Manages the responsibilities of the
    pharmacy employees.

  • Submits insurance claims to the insurance

pharmacists – 
they offer
medical professionals’ advice about patient’s prescribed medicine to give the
patient the best health outcome.

Job Description

  • Checking the patient’s medical status to
    determine if the medication will improve the patient’s health.

  • Evaluating the patient’s response to

  • Giving medicines and prescriptions to
    patients according to their health status.

  • Giving the correct and appropriate advice
    on the medicine, the time to take it if there will be side effects, and
    when the next prescription is to be filled. 

  • Having confidentiality with patient’s
    prescription and health status.

they create and develop new medicines while focusing on
medicines’ chemical processes interacting with human beings.

Job Description

  • Working with scientists in researching and
    creating new medicines and also improving the existing ones.

  • Conducting clinical trials of medicines to
    see their side effects and if they work as desired.

  • Documents the reports of their findings.

Steps to Follow to
Find Work as a Pharmacist 

There are steps in
which you will have to take to find a job as a pharmacist in the United States;

  • You have first to have an undergraduate
    study degree in doctor of pharmacy (PharmD).

  • Have a license that permits you to
    practice pharmacy.

  • Take advantage of your network.

  • Make new networks in the pharmacy field.

  • Take advantage of the online job posting;
    you can use ONLINE platform to find
    existing opportunities. 

  • Don’t forget to apply for jobs that fit
    your qualifications.  

How to Become a
Pharmacist in the U.S. (For Non-U.S. Citizens)

The steps for a
non-citizen to become a pharmacist in the United States are more or less the
same as a U.S. citizen (apart from a few minor differences). First, you have to
gain admission to a pharmacy school that allows the intake of international
students. You will be required to:

  • Have a study visa.

  • Complete your studies in the doctor of
    pharmacy (PharmD) program.

  • Apply for licensure in the U.S.

  • Apply for a work visa. 

After meeting those
requirements, you will be able to apply for a pharmacist job in the United States as
a non-citizen. 


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