A license is required in all States and the District of Columbia, as well as
in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In order to obtain a license,
pharmacists generally must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from a
college of pharmacy and pass several examinations.
Education and training. Pharmacists who
are trained in the United States must earn a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited
college or school of pharmacy. The Pharm.D. degree has replaced the Bachelor of
Pharmacy degree, which is no longer being awarded. To be admitted to a Pharm.D.
program, an applicant must have completed at least 2 years of specific
professional study. This requirement generally includes courses in mathematics
and natural sciences, such as chemistry, biology, and physics, as well as
courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, most applicants have
completed 3 or more years at a college or university before moving on to a
Pharm.D. program, although this is not specifically required.
Pharm.D. programs generally take 4 years to complete. The courses offered are
designed to teach students about all aspects of drug therapy. In addition,
students learn how to communicate with patients and other healthcare providers
about drug information and patient care. Students also learn professional
ethics, concepts of public health, and business management. In addition to
receiving classroom instruction, students in Pharm.D. programs spend time
working with licensed pharmacists in a variety of practice settings.
Some Pharm.D. graduates obtain further training through 1-year or 2-year
residency programs or fellowships. Pharmacy residencies are postgraduate
training programs in pharmacy practice and usually require the completion of a
research project. The programs are often mandatory for pharmacists who wish to
work in a clinical setting. Pharmacy fellowships are highly individualized
programs that are designed to prepare participants to work in a specialized area
of pharmacy, such clinical practice or research laboratories. Some pharmacists
who own their own pharmacy obtain a master's degree in business administration
(MBA). Others may obtain a degree in public administration or public health.
Licensure. A license to practice pharmacy
is required in all States and the District of Columbia, as well as in Guam,
Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To obtain a license, a prospective
pharmacist generally must obtain a Pharm.D. degree from a college of pharmacy
that has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
After obtaining the Pharm.D. degree, the individual must pass a series of
examinations. All States, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia require
the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which tests pharmacy
skills and knowledge. Forty-four States and the District of Columbia also
require the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which tests pharmacy
law. Both exams are administered by the National Association of Boards of
Pharmacy (NABP). Each of the eight States and territories that do not require
the MJPE has its own pharmacy law exam. Besides requiring the NAPLEX and law
examination, some States and territories require additional exams that are
unique to their jurisdictions. All jurisdictions also require a specified number
of hours of experience in a practice setting before a license is awarded. In
most jurisdictions, this requirement can be met while obtaining the Pharm.D. In
many States, applicants must meet an age requirement before a license can be
obtained, and some States require a criminal background check.
All States and U.S. territories except Puerto Rico permit licensure for
graduates of foreign pharmacy schools. These individuals must apply for
certification from the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC).
Once certified, they must pass the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency
Examination (FPGEE), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, and
Test of Spoken English (TSE) exam. Then they must pass all of the exams required
by the licensing jurisdiction, such as the NAPLEX and MJPE, and meet the
requirements for practical experience. In some States, applicants who graduated
from programs accredited by the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy
Programs (CCAPP) between 1993 and 2004 are exempt from FPGEC certification and
Other qualifications. Prospective
pharmacists should have scientific aptitude, good interpersonal skills, and a
desire to help others. They also must be conscientious and pay close attention
to detail, because the decisions they make affect human lives.
Advancement. In community pharmacies,
pharmacists usually begin at the staff level. Pharmacists in chain drugstores
may be promoted to pharmacy supervisor or store manager. Some pharmacists may be
promoted to manager at the district or regional level and, later, to an
executive position within the chain's headquarters. Hospital pharmacists may
advance to supervisory or administrative positions. Some pharmacists become
owners or part owners of independent pharmacies. Pharmacists in the
pharmaceutical industry may advance in marketing, sales, research, quality
control, production, or other areas.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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Pharmacist Job Outlook