How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?

Do you dream of becoming a pharmacist to help people with their ailments? You might wonder, how long does it take to become a pharmacist? Learn here!

TCM Staff

22nd December 2021

Pharmacists are responsible for being knowledgeable about various medications to help patients’ ailments. They help patients understand the effects and dosages of medications, ultimately helping them manage their symptoms and feel better. How long to become a pharmacist? We’ll get to that later. 

If you’re interested in a career as a pharmacist, congratulations! It’s a lucrative and rewarding role. Plus, experts predict about 11,000 job openings for pharmacists each year. But to embark on this career path, you’re in for a bit of a trek regarding the years to become a pharmacist. 

How long does it take to become a pharmacist? What job duties do you fulfill as a pharmacist? And how long is pharmacy school? Read on to find out!


Key Takeaways:

  • Pharmacists are responsible for safely dispensing medication and explaining medication dosage and effects to patients.
  • Pharmacists make a median salary of $128,710 per year. 
  • It takes a minimum of 6 years to become a pharmacist, but many pharmacists need about 8-10 years to land a middle position.
  • Pharmacists must complete a pharmacy doctoral degree and residency program before being considered for licensure. 


What Are the Job Duties of a Pharmacist?

A pharmacist’s primary job is to dispense medication to patients with prescriptions. But the job of a pharmacist entails much more than that. Here are some other job duties that pharmacists are responsible for:

  • Consulting with patients and offering knowledge about drug dosages and effects
  • Filing paperwork and insurance forms 
  • Giving vaccinations to patients
  • Screening for health conditions using blood tests and other tools
  • Providing health advice to patients regarding general health and lifestyle, like exercise, diet, and more
  • Maintaining updated records and completing administrative tasks

Sounds fun, right? The best part is that the average pharmacist salary to fulfill this role is $128, 710 per year! 

But are you wondering, “how many years do you need to become a pharmacist?” Let’s find out. 


How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?

How long does it take to be a pharmacist? To become a pharmacist, it takes a minimum of 6-8 years. And that’s only for an entry-level pharmacist position. If you’d like to move up in the industry, you might need as long as 8-10 years before being considered for higher positions. 

How many years to be a pharmacist? You’re looking at an average of 8 years. 

Let’s take a look at the typical path to becoming a pharmacist. 


How to Become a Pharmacist

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program or a Pre-Pharmacy Program

You’ll need to complete a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) to become a pharmacist. To be eligible for the doctoral program, you’ll need either one of the following:

  • Completed 4-year bachelor’s degree in pharmacy science or related topic
  • 2-year Pre-Pharmacy Program

Classes you’ll take for either option include biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology. 


Step 2: Complete your Doctoral Degree in Pharmacy

Next is to apply for a 4-year Pharm.D degree program. Make sure to check individual college websites for information about requirements. 

Some topics you’ll cover in this doctoral program include:

  • Natural sciences like chemistry, biology, and physiology
  • Pharmaceutical science
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pathology
  • Therapeutics
  • Practical study in a clinic, health center, or hospital. 

So, your pre-pharmacy program or bachelor’s along with your Pharm.D are the minimum requirements you need to apply for a pharmacist license. These steps take a minimum of 6 years, or 8 years if you go the bachelor’s route. 


Step 3: Obtain Your Pharmacist License

To obtain your pharmacist license, you must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). The exam comprises 185 questions about pharmacology. 

You may also have to take the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), a 90-question exam that covers state laws around pharmacy practices. Finally, different states might also have further exam requirements, depending on where you decide to practice. 


Step 4: Pharmacist Residency or Fellowship

Many Pharm.D graduates complete a pharmacy residency for 1-2 years to gain experience in the pharmacy work setting. This is an entry-level position that often offers the lowest pay available to a pharmacist, but it can open doors for better positions and networking opportunities down the line. Residencies also qualify you to work in research labs and other pharmaceutical settings. 



For anyone wondering, “how long to be a pharmacist,” you’re in for a long ride. With bachelor or pre-pharmacy programs, residencies, and the 4-year Pharm.D program, a career in pharmacy is for those with a high level of interest and commitment capability. 

How long does it take to become a pharmacist? You’ll need to be prepared for at least 6-8 years of school to pursue a career in pharmacology. Curious about more details about the path to becoming a pharmacist?  Check out our article about “how to become a pharmacist!”


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