Pharmacist Licensure and Certification
Become a Pharmacist
The licensing process is not identical in all states, but it is very similar. Each state requires a degree and a minimum number of clinical hours; a competency exam and a jurisprudence (pharmacy) law exam are also required. After you receive your Pharm-D degree, you will sit for the licensing exam. Your own state board determines your eligibility status; then the testing company emails you an Authorization to Test (or ATT) and you schedule your exam.
All U.S. states, and the District of Columbia, require a jurisprudence exam. 48 use the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam. A few, though, have their own state-specific jurisprudence test. Some states also have additional competency exams. A criminal background check is often included as part of the licensing process.
Education does not end with initial licensure. Pharmacists can expect to do continuing education to renew their licensing. Check your state pharmacy board for details. There are multiple organizations that can offer approved continuing education opportunities.
There are also specialty certifications that a pharmacist may pursue. Specialty certifications, which reflect advanced competencies in particular branches of pharmacy, are available through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. One area of specialization is nutritional support pharmacy. This requires a specialty residency or three years of practice. Another specialty is psychiatric pharmacy. A pharmacist becomes eligible to take the exam after completing a residency or practicing in the field for four years. Other specialties include ambulatory care, oncology, pharmacotherapy, and nuclear pharmacy.
Specialization can lead to enhanced career opportunity. Specialty certification is maintained through continuing education or re-testing.