How To Become a Pharmacist: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Pharmacists are medical professionals who supply medications and educate patients on how to take them. If you enjoy working with people and want to help them maintain good health, it might be a career you will enjoy. Knowing what skills and qualifications you need to enter this profession and how much you can earn as a pharmacist can help you make an informed career decision. In this article, we will discuss how to become a pharmacist, what these professionals do and how much they earn.

What does a pharmacist do?

A pharmacist specialises in medicine and is responsible for filling and dispensing prescriptions issued by doctors. They also help a patient understand on how to take their medications. These professionals have in-depth knowledge of the composition, uses and side effects of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Here are some common responsibilities of a pharmacist:

  • Dispensing medications to patients

  • Reviewing the prescription for accuracy

  • Educating patients on how and when to take the prescribed medications

  • Discussing and elaborating on the potential side effects of a medicine

  • Providing flu injections and other vaccinations upon patient's request

  • Determining whether the current medications will interact with other medication a patient takes

  • Overseeing the drugs supply chain and ensuring refills of out-of-stock medications

  • Educating other staff and patients on various drug therapies

  • Ensuring compliance with state and central government regulations

Average salary of a pharmacist

The national average salary of a pharmacist is ₹2,11,677 per year. The salary may vary depending upon a candidate's skills, qualifications, experience and job location. Some of the highest paying cities for this profession are:

  • Gurgaon: ₹2,45,409 per year

  • Bengaluru: ₹2,44,151 per year

  • Mumbai: ₹2,38,565 per year

  • Ahmedabad: ₹2,30,122 per year

  • Delhi: ₹2,19,065 per year

  • Thane: ₹2,05,076 per year

  • Hyderabad: ₹1,97,586 per year

  • Jaipur: ₹1,97,532 per year

Related: How To Ask for a Raise (With Script Examples)

Skills of a pharmacist

To excel as a pharmacist, you need to have the following skills:

  • Ability to multitask: from entering information in the computer database to accurately dispensing medications to discussing the use of a particular medicine, such professionals may have to perform many duties. So, employers prefer candidates who can multitask and still maintain standards of excellence.

  • Integrity: if a pharmacist suspects that a prescribed medicine might cause drug interactions, they should check with the doctor to make sure the medicine is safe for the patient.

  • Computer skills: these professionals need basic computer skills to retrieve information from a database of medicines and update patient records.

  • Communication skills: they need excellent communication skills to instruct the doses of medicines to patients and to request more information from a doctor.

  • Attention to detail: pharmacists should accurately follow a doctor's prescription and provide safe and correct medicines to a patient. This needs attrition to detail.

  • Understanding of clinical pharmaceutical: to excel in the pharmaceutical industry, a professional should have comprehensive knowledge of the latest medications and clinical theories. Also, an in-depth understanding of the composition of medicines is desirable.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to become a pharmacist

To understand how to become a pharmacist, follow these steps:

1. Complete your 10+2

To enrol in a pharmacy undergraduate program, you typically need to complete your higher secondary or 10+2 in the science stream. You can choose from a combination of different science subjects like physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics to meet the application requirement of most undergraduate programs.

2. Pursue an undergraduate degree

To become a pharmacist, you will require either a diploma or a bachelor in pharmacy. Here are more details about their eligibility criteria, admission process, course structure and duration:

Diploma in Pharmacy (DPharm)

DPharm is a two-year diploma course with a minimum requirement of 10+2 in the science stream. If you wish to open your pharmacy or drug store, you should at least have a diploma. Also, students pursuing a diploma course can get a direct entry to the second year of a Bachelor of Pharmacy course, based on merit. There are many universities offering diploma courses, and each has a different admission procedure. Some may conduct only an interview, whereas others may require you to pass an entrance test.

Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm)

If you want to work for the top pharmaceutical companies, you require a bachelor's degree. It is a four-year course with a minimum requirement of 10+2 in the science stream. To get admission in colleges offering the BPharm degree, you may have to pass different entrance exams based on the college or university you are applying to. The course structure is often a mix of academic and practical training in the pharmaceutical industry environment.

Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D)

After completing your 10+2, you can enrol in a six-year Pharm.D course. The course includes five years of clinical and community-based theoretical study and one year of internship in hospitals. Also, students pursuing the BPharm course can take lateral entry to the fourth year of the Pharm.D course, based on merit. The admission procedure usually follows the guidelines laid down by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI). For enrolling in a Pharm.D course, the age of the candidate must be between 17 and 23 years.

3. Complete a post-graduation degree

You can complete any of the following two post-graduation courses after your graduation:

Master of Pharmacy (MPharm)

Those who pursue a BPharm degree are eligible to do MPharm. A master's degree will help you get into the research and development field. Also, this degree requires you to specialise in one particular area of pharmacy. You can choose from one of the following specialisations: pharmaceutics, pharmacology, pharmaceutical biotechnology, pharmaceutical analysis, pharmacy practice, industrial pharmacy, pharmacognosy, pharmaceutical chemistry and quality assurance.

The specialisation you choose helps in shaping your career. Also, the MPharm course is a two-year course. Admission to this course usually happens through the Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT).

Doctor of Pharmacy (Post-Baccalaureate)

Candidates with a BPharm degree from an institute recognised by the PCI are eligible for this course. Completing the post-baccalaureate course will help you advance your professional skills and help you get into clinical practice and research. It is a three-year course with two years of academic training and one year of internship. You need to complete different entrance exams to get admission to a college of your choice.

4. Pursue PhD in pharmacy

While pursuing a PhD is an optional step, it is a good decision for those who show an inclination toward the research side. The minimum eligibility criteria for gaining admission in PhD is a master's degree in pharmacy. Most of the doctorate courses follow an integrated learning approach and it is a three-year course. You can get admission by clearing entrance exams conducted by individual colleges.

5. Obtain a state licence

In addition to the above qualifications, a pharmacist has to obtain a state licence before working. For becoming a registered pharmacist, you have to apply to your respective state's pharmacy council for a licence. The eligibility requirement and procedures vary from state to state. For example, most states require that candidates should have certain hours of practical experience to apply for a licence. However, you can apply for only one state licence at a time. Visit your state's pharmacy council website to know more about the procedure, documentation and fees required for procuring a pharmacist licence.

How many years does it take to become a pharmacist?

The time it takes to become a pharmacist depends upon the education you receive. However, it is possible to become an entry-level pharmacist and start your pharmacy by completing a two-year diploma course in pharmacy after 10+2.

Is it hard to become a pharmacist?

It is easy to become a pharmacist because after completing a two-year diploma course and getting a licence, you can start your pharmacy business. However, completing a bachelor's and master's degree may be challenging for those who do not show dedication to this profession. As you have to study every aspect of science, having an interest in this field can make it easier for you to get a job as a pharmacist.

What qualifications do you need to be a pharmacist?

The basic qualification to be a pharmacist is studying science subjects like physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics in 10+2. After completing 10+2, a candidate can either pursue a diploma or bachelor's degree or complete a Doctor in Pharmacy. Furthermore, pursuing a master's or doctorate is optional.

How hard is a pharmacy degree?

A pharmacy degree may not be challenging, especially for those interested in different aspects of science. From pharmacology to pharmaceutical analysis to human anatomy, most pharmacy degree courses cover a vast area of science. The completion of a pharmacy degree requires hard work and dedication for a fulfilling career.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing.

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