Choosing the Best Degree for a Career as a Pharmacist
Amongst some of the best-paying professional careers in the world, pharmacists are fast becoming a very popular one. It may be the six-figure average pay of a pharmacist, or it may be the exciting nature of the job; but many college students are committing to years of studying and several exams to start into a career as a pharmacist.
But how will you choose which degree to go for?
The Entry-Level Education for becoming a Pharmacist
A Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) is the basic degree required to enter this coveted profession. If you’re wondering how long this can take, a Pharm.D. degree takes between 2-3 years for completion. You have to make sure that the school from where you get your pharm D. degree is accredited and offers top quality education in the discipline.
Beginning at the High School Level
Taking up courses in science, such as biology, chemistry, etc. at the high school level will prepare you well for entry into this profession. You can even attend with pharmacy career camps at the high school level to get in touch with like-minded students and professors who can guide you in the right direction.
The Right Undergraduate Degree
Applicants to all Pharm.D. programs must have an undergraduate degree. For most Pharm.D. programs, applicants must also take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), and therefore you should check that you take the relevant courses in your bachelor’s degree that will also help you prepare for the PCAT.
The most commonly chosen degrees at the undergraduate level by students include bachelor of pharmacy or bachelor of science in pharmacy (BS Pharm.). You could also take any other related discipline, provided it covers main pharmacy-related courses such as Anatomy, Microbiology, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Statistics, Immunology, Biology, English Composition, etc.
Speaking to Experts
It’s a great idea to speak to career counselors or to practicing pharmacists to get a better idea about how to steer your career and educational path. A career counselor will be able to assess your current achievements and qualifications and guide you on how you can apply for a Pharm.D. degree or whether you need to take some additional prerequisite courses before you can apply to a program.
Experienced pharmacists can help by telling you about which courses and programs are particular important from the point of view of the licensing exam for pharmacists and in order to gain admission into the best pharmacy colleges in the country. Besides, they will also be able to guide you to the right bachelor’s degree that will serve you well in your future role as a pharmacist.
For Higher Level Positions
If you want to be a pharmacist at a higher level, you can take up a residency after the completion of your Pharm.D. degree for 1-2 years. These can help you land a clinical or research-based position in this field. If you wish to take up a more administrative level role such as a that of a store owner, then degrees in management such as a master of business administration (MBA) is a smart choice.
To make it successful in a profession as a pharmacist, meticulous, well thought-out education and career planning will take you miles ahead in the industry.