I Am a Pharmacy Technician. How Do I Become a Pharmacist?

CPhT to PharmD

Working as a pharmacy technician gives an individual a good understanding of the pharmaceutical industry. A person who is a pharmacy technician first tends to be a more prepared pharmacist than a person who becomes a pharmacist without being a pharmacy technician. However, in order to become a pharmacist, an individual will definitely need more education. The following article describes a general pathway for a person who wants to pursue a “PharmD” designation in the United States. Requirements for education and licensure may vary from state to state and from country to country.

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After completing high school, a person will have to complete four years of undergraduate work. There are a few options on how a student can accomplish this. One way includes getting an Associate of Science degree at a community college and transferring the credits over to a four-year college. Another option is for a person to go directly to a four-year college to earn his or her degree. Most colleges and universities will have a pre-pharmacy program. It is also usually structured to meet the requirements of pharmacy schools in the area assuming that the student will continue on to pharmacy school. The curriculum is heavy in the sciences including but not limited to chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and molecular biology. After completion of this phase, a person will possess a baccalaureate in science (BS) degree.

Take the PCAT to get into pharmacy school:

After completing his or her undergraduate degree, a person will have to take the pharmacy college admission test (PCAT). The scores of the test in addition to other contributions to the pharmaceutical industry (i.e., volunteering in pharmacy-related community events, being a member of a pharmaceutical organization, working as a pharmacy technician, an interview) will be used to determine acceptance into pharmacy school. Pharmacy schools around the United States are competitive and only accept a small fraction of students who apply. So, it is very important to ensure that one sets him or herself apart from the rest of the group.

Acquiring license to practice as a pharmacist:

Once a person is accepted into pharmacy school, he or she will spend the next four to five years learning about the pharmaceutical industry, medications, chemical processes of various medications, and the laws surrounding writing, filling, dispensing, and storing medications. Once pharmacy school is completed, a student will have to take his or her board exam and a law exam that is specific to his or her state. Although the board exam is the same, the law exam will be different from state to state as each state has different laws that govern the practice of pharmacy. Once the exams have been passed and applicable fees have been paid, the person will be granted a license to practice as a pharmacist and use the credential of “PharmD” after his or her name.

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Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Elina works full-time at Southeast Community College, running an ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician program, and works part-time for the Arts and Sciences division.

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