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Pharmacy School: Is a Degree Worth the Pain?

One of CareerStaff Rx’s Facebook postings recently got our team thinking; do the benefits of attaining a Doctor of Pharmacy degree outweigh all the costs and stresses? What is the better thing to do? The answer is that it depends upon each individual’s goals, circumstances and opportunities. However, there are several interesting facts compiled into this posting that may help tip the scale for you if you find yourself in a tug of war over the decision.

To begin, someone signing up for a PharmD degree is committing themself to a minimum of six years of work if entering a program at an undergraduate university or a four year program following four years at a university for a combined total of eight years. In order to even be accepted to one of these programs an applicant must complete the Pharmacy College Application Service form and sit for the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Depending upon the university to which one is applying, a certain range of scores will be considered acceptable. Fortunately, Pearson does not have its own pass/fail marker so any scores received can theoretically be sent in to a university. Anyone planning to take the exam should be reminded that practice tests, sample questions and helpful tips are readily available online. Attending Pharmacy School is a large commitment, especially in terms of time. However, there are also other, large costs associated with the decision. Tuition alone can be a major stumbling block for prospective students. The average cost at a public university ranges between $14,800 and $82,000 for four years. At a private university the average ranges from $74,800 to $160,000 for four years. It is also important to consider the expense of books each year, the $125 fee in order to sit for the PCAT, as well as the licensing fee after completion of a PharmD program. The enormous stress of the program can also be considered a cost, although not denominated in dollars.

The positives? They may be hard to see through the numbers associated with tuition, exams and materials required to attend Pharmacy School, but they do exist. If tuition is a worry, it may be wise to seek out various scholarships and grants that are readily available to potential pharmacists who apply for them. For example, companies like CVS will pay $5000 in some cases with a commitment to remain with the company for a specific amount of time. Walgreens and Rite Aid have been found to do the same. A student of the PharmD program will earn more training, clinical studies and experience. Perhaps the most enticing benefit, a pharmacist’s salary dramatically increases after completion of the program. The average pay for a pharmacist with a degree ranges from $77,825 to $126,078. Additionally, someone with a PharmD degree has the potential to be a successful pharmacy director, which on average brings in $103,384 to $166,295. With salaries this high, a pharmacist makes about double what a pharmacy technician without a degree would make in a year. The national average for a pharmacy technician salary is $30,000. However, this is a good salary considering the minimal pre-requisites to be certified as a technician and the time constraints a pharmacy technician generally has. Unfortunately, pharmacy technician salaries are 53% lower than average salaries nationwide. So you may want to think twice before settling in as a pharmacy technician for the rest of your life. If you are ready to take on the challenge of Pharmacy School and have the means to do so, go for it! There are plenty of benefits, which your wallet will feel, and it can only serve to better your career opportunities. The stress may seem overwhelming at times, but just remember the light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing in life worth pursuing is ever easy, take the challenge and later on you will be rewarded.