In this career, your responsibilities may include:
- Dispensing medications to customers as prescribed by their physicians or other qualified medical professionals
- Counseling customers about the proper dosage and best use of their prescribed medication, as well as about potential side effects
- Ensuring that customers do not take medications that interact dangerously with one another or that are contraindicated by the customer’s health condition and history
- Administering flu shots and certain other vaccinations
- Overseeing the work of pharmacy assistants and technicians
In your job search, you may find listings for this career under different titles. You can find some examples of these, as well as more information about this career, at CareerOneStop.
Typically requires a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree.
After completing a PharmD, you may also choose to pursue an additional one or two years of post-graduate “residency” education. The first year of residency, referred to as PGY1, provides general pharmacy education at a more advanced level; while the second year of residency, known as PGY2, focuses on an area of specialty. See “Certification” below for more information.
Most states require that pharmacists who administer vaccinations complete a special certificate program, usually the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate training program.
Other certification is not required, but could make employers more likely to hire you or offer you a higher salary.
You may be eligible for a variety of independent certifications designed to inform and equip you in a specific area or topic. Most certifications are available to a variety of health care professionals, not just pharmacists. Some of these certifications include a course of study, but many are just exams. To prepare, you will need to seek out a course of study elsewhere or educate yourself in the topics outlined in the examination handbook. Examples include:
- Certified Anticoagulation Care Provider (CACP) from the National Certification Board for Anticoagulation Providers (NCBAP)
- Asthma Educator Specialist (AE-C) from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC)
- Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) from the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE)
- HIV Specialist (AAHIVS), HIV Expert (AAHIVE), or HIV Pharmacist (AAHIVP) from the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM)
- Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) from the National Board of Nutrition Support Certification Inc. (NBNSC)
- Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)
Licensed pharmacists may also pursue specialty board certification through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. A specialty board certification is considered the highest standard in the pharmacy profession. There are 14 board-recognized specialties.
Licensure is required to practice as a pharmacist in the United States.
Each state has a board of pharmacy that regulates licenses, and requirements vary by state, so be sure to contact your state board for specific information.
In all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, internationally trained pharmacists are required to earn the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification before applying for licensure from a state board of pharmacy. There are three steps to the FPGEC process:
- Obtaining a credential evaluation of your education and any existing licensure from Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE). No credential evaluations from other providers will be accepted for this purpose.
- Passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT).
- Passing the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE).
After you have obtained your FPGEC certification, most states require that you pass both the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE).
- If you live in an area within commuting distance to other states and wish to have the option of seeking employment in more than one of them, or if you have plans to move to a specific state in the future, you may want to consider score transfer. Score transfer is an optional process that allows you to become simultaneously licensed in your primary state and other states of your choosing, as soon as you first pass the NAPLEX exam.