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 (IPPE) 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 (APPE) 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 months.

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 Pharmacists

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.

Pharmacy Clerk – 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.

Pharmacy Assistant – 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. 

Pharmacy Technician – 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 prescriptions.
  • Performing audits.
  • Checking and processing customers’ insurance.

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

Job Description

  • Confirms and verifies prescriptions with prescribers.
  • 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 Pharmacists – 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 prescriptions).
  • Advises or counsels the patients and customers on ways to live better and stay healthy.

Director of Pharmacy – 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 pharmacy.
  • Tackling some administrative work.
  • Manages the responsibilities of the pharmacy employees.
  • Submits insurance claims to the insurance companies. 

Clinical 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 medication.
  • 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.

 Pharmacologists – 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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