How To Become A Pharmacist in California-6 Best Steps

Searching for the steps on how to become a Pharmacist in California? Are you looking to improve the health, comfort, well-being, and health of people?

One of the best ways to do this is to train as a pharmacist. However, to work in this field, you must have the appropriate training, which includes a pre-pharmacy degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a doctorate in pharmacy.

   Unlike doctors and nurses that are almost always in the spotlight, pharmacists do the background job of creating solutions to medical problems by inventing problem-solving substances or conducting research.

They help maintain general health and push forward ideal and high-quality medical care. Pharmacists play a crucial role in maintaining our general health by assisting in drug research, production, and distribution, which is a result of their training in some of the most intricate scientific concepts.

  Pharmacists work in pharmacies, grocery stores, science research centers, Healthcare facilities, and Pharmaceutical companies amongst others. Completing a degree in Pharmacy may take the course of six to eight years including Post-secondary education, a Bachelor’s degree, and some other required exams. 

 Pharmacists are currently in demand in countries like California as a result of the growth in Pharmaceutical companies.

Like most professions in the health line, it is not very easy to go through the process of training, and almost 10% of students do not complete the degree. Not only can it be seen as a challenge, but it is also a fulfilling job. 

How To Become A Pharmacist in California: The Steps

  • Post-secondary Education
  • Pass PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test)
  • Postgraduate Professional Degree
  • NAPLEX(North America Pharmacist Licensure Exam) and CPJE (California Practice Standards Jurisprudence Exam)
  • Learn Skills
  • Post-NAPLEX

1. Post-secondary Education:

To become a pharmacist, or to qualify to register for a degree in Pharmacy (Pharm.D). You have to first complete a Post-secondary education, or get a Bachelor’s degree in either Pharmacy or other health courses.

It takes two years to complete a post-secondary or pre-pharmacy education which is an associate degree. Unlike a bachelor’s degree which can be completed over four years. 

  Having a Bachelor’s degree can be useful when you want to specialize in a particular aspect of Pharmacy, it can also be useful when you have completed a degree in the healthcare field, but would like to further by start going to Pharmacy school or having a Pharmacy degree.

In cases like that, having a pre-pharmacy education is not required. Some institutions run options where a Bachelor’s degree can be completed over four years, while some combine pre-pharmacy and a Pharm degree in six to eight years of coursework. In universities like that, high school students can apply without completing a pre-pharmacy education. 

  A pre-pharmacy training often covers subjects like Anatomy, Chemistry, and Biology. You can also opt for a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy.

While studying for a Bachelor’s degree, students can take minor courses like Sociology, Accounting, and some other subjects to help to acquire additional skills.  

2. Pass PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test):

This computer-based test is often written by prospective Pharmacy students to help them see their chances of being admitted into a Pharmacy school.

There is no minimum score for the test, and the test is not mandatory for all prospective students. Prospective students are quizzed on subjects like writing, Biology, Chemistry, critical reading, aptitude tests, and experiments.

Not all schools require PCAT, you have to check the individual page of the school you are applying for to see if PCAT is needed. The Pharmacy College Admissions Test was designed to help colleges pick students who are best suited for their Pharmacy courses.

The cost of writing PCAT is $210. The test is written in January, June, and September.

PCAT is a one-time test and a determining factor for most Pharmacy colleges. Schools in California that do not require PCAT tests are:

  • California Northstate

  • University of California

  • San Diego, Loma Linda University

  • University of California

  • San Francisco

  • Western University

  • University of the Pacific

  • University of Southern California

  • Touro University, California

If you, however, want to see how well you would manage in Pharmacy School by writing PCAT, or you are applying for a Pharmacy school that requires it, you can get handbooks that will help you in the preparation for your PCAT.

3. Postgraduate Professional Degree:

After completing Post-secondary training, the next step is the Postgraduate degree or Pharm.D. The postgraduate degrees often run through the course of four years.

Some schools have a three-year option, and also offer combined coursework for high school graduates which runs for six years.

A postgraduate degree offers a deeper understanding of Biology and Chemistry, and other topics that are pharmacy-focused like Pharmacokinetics, Pathology, and Therapeutics. Courses like Medical ethics, Pharmacology, and Chemistry are included in the Postgraduate degree.

If you want to own your Pharmacy degree, however, you can apply for a second degree in MBA, a Public health degree, or a Master’s degree in Business.

  Pharmacists who want to work in research centers or as clinical pharmacists have to finish a residency program for a period of one to two years.

After completing the residency option, more training will be given to help them work in geriatric care or internal media.

Pharmacists who have specific certificates or show interest in a particular area can earn the certificates.

Pharmacists who want to specialize in a health field like Oncology can obtain this from the Board Of Pharmacy Specialists. Pharmacists have to complete their Postgraduate degree in an accredited Pharmacy program.

  Experience in a hospital, clinic or other healthcare settings can be obtained in a doctoral degree or before a doctoral degree. Most students work in a real-world setting for practice towards the end of their Post-graduate degree.

4. NAPLEX(North America Pharmacist Licensure Exam) and CPJE (California Practice Standards Jurisprudence Exam):

After completing your postgraduate degree, you can apply for a licensure test. NAPLEX is a licensure exam prepared by NABP(National Association of Boards of Pharmacy).

NAPLEX and CPJE can only be written one time per application, and have to be written before the license is handed out. CPJE is different from MPJE.

MPJE which is Multi states Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam can not be used in California, the required exam for licensure in California is CPJE.  

  Foreign students can fill in the foreign application for them to be scheduled for an exam in California. 

The application fee for CPJE is $200, while the application fee for NAPLEX is $485. Handbooks for both exams can be found on the NABP website.

You can’t reciprocate Multi states Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam for California Practice Standards Jurisprudence Exam, you can however transfer NAPLEX scores from one state to another. 

  You can view your eligibility at To see if you are eligible for both tests, your transcripts have to be submitted first, this implies that you have to submit your transcripts to see if you are eligible. The application form can be downloaded at

5. Learn Skills:

While waiting for your license to be approved, you can learn skills that will help you in the healthcare field.

Although skills like these are not required, it is a way of broadening your scope of learning. You can learn Skills on computer skills, listening skills, analytical skills, and managerial skills.

Skills like these can be helpful in different situations, when there is a need for someone with great communication skills or computer skills, you can step up to the position.

Learning skills can open doors of opportunities for you. A skill like data science can help you with things that are research-oriented. 

6. Post-NAPLEX:

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy will review your admission status within 30-45 days. You have to wait for 30-45 days before checking your status.

Your CPJE result will be marked within 60-90 days and submitted to the California Board of Pharmacy (CABOP). Your results will not be available on tests boards and will be sent to CABOP who will in turn contact you. 

Types Of Pharmacists Jobs

  • Clinical pharmacist
  • Compounding Pharmacists
  • Retail Pharmacists 
  • Industrial Pharmacists
  • Pharmacy technician

1. Clinical pharmacist: 

A clinical pharmacist as the name implies is a pharmacist who works in healthcare facilities. They are often found in Hospital pharmacies and community health.

A clinical pharmacist works in conjunction with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to provide, recommend and administer medications to patients to treat their medical conditions.

A job in clinical pharmacy is very team-oriented. A Clinical pharmacist’s job may differ in cases where they are specialized in a particular field or the other.

Some pharmacists specialize in geriatric care while some specialize in pediatric care, while these are two different fields, a Clinical pharmacist’s job in both fields is to administer, provide or recommend medications to patients.

Pharmacists have virtually as many specialization options as medical specialists have. As a result, career options for clinical pharmacists are growing.

Many people are obtaining specialized training and board certifications to prove their subject-matter competence. A clinical pharmacist’s salary ranges from $128,612 to $145,202 per annum. 

2. Compounding Pharmacists:

 Compounding pharmacists help make medications in a form that makes them more usable. Some people can not take medications in some forms as a result of allergies, reactions, sweating, and some other factors. The work of a compounding pharmacist is to make medications in forms that are more acceptable for a patient, such as syrups, suppositories, topical creams, and other forms.

Although the final form of the medications is often not tested for potency, effectiveness, or safety. The drugs are secure, usable, and acceptable especially when made by certified pharmacists in a sterile setting.

 All pharmacists receive some instruction in compounding during Pharmacy school. However, pharmacists who wish to focus on this area can do so by applying at Compounding Centres of American Institute.

3. Retail Pharmacists 

These pharmacists are often found in grocery and large drugstores. A retail pharmacist typically fills prescriptions and attends to patients by processing prescriptions and in some cases immunization duties.

Retail pharmacists should have long and unusual working hours. This is because most grocery stores or pharmaceuticals are open around the clock, which means longer working hours.

Retail pharmacists are often remunerated handsomely in return for the hours spent working. Retail Pharmacists in drugstores earn a median of $125,740 per annum, while retail pharmacists in grocery chains earn $131,200 per annum.

Although Retail pharmacists are remunerated handsomely, they go through a very difficult working schedule and a series of training which explains the salary.

Retail Pharmacists are also required to complete a Postgraduate degree in Pharmacy to be qualified for the job.

4. Industrial Pharmacists

These Pharmacists specialize in the production of new medications.

They conduct research, test medications, conduct medication trials, and check for potential risks in medication usage. Industrial pharmacists often work in industrial or clinical settings, and manufacturing plants.

Industrial pharmacists often make capsules and tablets for drugs and are sometimes required to be dressed in protective clothing. An industrial pharmacist makes about $122,200 per annum. 

  Industrial pharmacists create medications that are quality and safe, they often supervise drug production, and sometimes medications and supplies that are related to medications.

Industrial Pharmacists work with other industrial scientists to ensure that the medications produced are effective and safe, they also work with the FDA to fish out medications that are not safe. 

   Industrial pharmacists work with doctors and nurses in the area of recommendation of drugs.

They sometimes recommend medications to patients who are not responding to treatment.

Not only do industrial Pharmacists supervise drug production, but they also help improve existing drugs, and explain things to patients, like side effects, reactions, etc.

5. Pharmacy technician:

To work as a pharmacy technician, a postgraduate degree in Pharmacy is not needed.

A Pharmacy technician can start working with just a high school diploma, a vocational training certificate, and a state license.

Pharmacy technicians work closely with pharmacists and can work in almost every health environment.

Pharmacy technicians do not experience the same rigor involved in becoming a licensed Pharmacist, and it is cheaper.

 They can work in ambulances, clinics, and retail drugstores, they can also fill in drug prescriptions and record confidential information about patients.

A Pharmacy technician, however, does not earn as much as pharmacists do. The median salary per annum of a Pharmacy Technician is $35,100.

Are there other steps on How To Become A Pharmacist in California that you think should be on this list? Please let us know.

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