Positions in the field of pharmacy typically pay well above the national average salary. To become a pharmacist, a student must earn a doctor of pharmacy degree and pass state licensing exams in pharmacy skills and pharmacy law. Undergraduate prerequisites for pharmacy college programs vary but typically include coursework in life sciences, chemistry and quantitative reasoning.
Life Sciences Courses
Foundational coursework in biology and human sciences helps prospective pharmacy students gain an understanding in the development and function of living organisms at the molecular and cellular level. Common prerequisite courses in this field can include general biology, principles of biology or chemistry with a biology focus. Genetics, DNA technology and cell evolution theory are typically covered in these courses, as well as cell structure and cycles. Other prerequisite courses in this field may include human anatomy, physiology and physics.
General chemistry and organic chemistry are required for most pharmacy programs to provide students with a fundamental understanding in the chemical principals involved with biological processes. Periodic properties, stoichiometry and chemical equations are typically covered in general chemistry coursework. Topics in organic chemistry might include the synthesis and reactions of carbon-based compounds. Most chemistry courses include laboratory work where students gain experience in the techniques and instruments commonly used in mixing chemical compounds in a laboratory setting. Some undergraduate general and organic chemistry courses may require high school coursework in chemistry.
Quantitative Reasoning Courses
Students need to develop their quantitative reasoning skills to perform equations, formulas and research in pharmacy school. Most undergraduate prerequisites in this area include calculus and statistics. Some schools offer calculus classes with a focus in the life sciences, which give students an understanding on how to apply integrals and quotients in relation to elementary functions. Statistics topics may include descriptive methods, hypothesis testing and experiment analysis. Undergraduate basic math may be required for entrance into some of the courses.
Many pharmacy schools require incoming students to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test, which covers the prerequisite coursework areas, as well as reading and verbal skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacists was expected to increase by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020. Demand for pharmacy services would grow in a variety of locales outside of retail drug stores, such as doctor offices, outpatient clinics and nursing homes. In 2012, the mean salary for pharmacists was $114,950.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Overall Annual Mean Salary for the United States 2012
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Pharmacist
- University of Illinois at Chicago: College of Pharmacy: Pre-Pharmacy Coursework
- Purdue University: College of Pharmacy: Pre-Pharmacy Curriculum
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: Pharmacy College Admission Test
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacist: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacist: 2012 Salary
Joanne Mendes has been professionally writing since 2007 and began specializing in education topics in 2009. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master's degree from Chatham University.