Becoming a pharmacist requires several qualifications, the first of which is the Pharm.D. degree. In order to be admitted into a pharmacy program, one first complete two to three years of general education (with emphasis on math and science) at a college level, and receive a decent score on the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The PCAT consists of 240 multiple-choice questions and two writing segments based on general academics and science. Once these two things are completed, the student may be admitted into the pharmacy program for another four years of education. This time however, the education will be specialized in pharmacy. During the specialized study, the student should gain at least one year of practical (hands-on) education. It is imperative that the pharmacy program of your choice is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
Required Pharmacist Licenses and Tests
The second step to becoming a pharmacist is licensing. To become licensed, one must pass a couple of exams. All states require a person to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). NAPLEX is a $485, 185-question exam that assesses knowledge of effective pharmacotherapy and optimization of therapeutic outcomes, preparation and dispensing of medications, and health care information. Forty-four states also require a person to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), a test which focuses on pharmacy law. Those states that do not require this exam, have pharmacy law tests of their own that must be passed for licensing. This test costs $200 and is only 90 multiple-choice questions long.
All states also require a person to have a certain amount of hands-on training. The specific amount of training can vary by state, but many states do allow this training to be completed during your Pharm.D. education. If you wish to work in a clinical setting, it may be required that you complete a residency--one to two years of postgraduate training in a specialized area of pharmaceutical study.
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These requirements are general qualifications to practice pharmacy, but there is variation from state to state. It is recommended that a person check out the requirements of the specific state in which he / she wishes to practice pharmacy.