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Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Pharmacist, Lawyer, Nurse, Doctor, and More...

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20 Nov 2018
24 min read

You have a career in mind, but you don't know what to expect or how to get there.

We gathered all the relevant information you need to give you the low down on what's needed to chase after any one of the professions below:

1. Lawyer
2. Doctor
3. Accountant
4. Nurse
5. Dentist
6. Optometrist
7. Pharmacist
8. Electrical Engineer
9. Mechanical Engineer
10. Veterinarian

All of these professions require you to pass an exam at one point or another, and it’s important that you research the requirements of your chosen career before diving head-first into university. A good place to start is CareerAddict, which offers valuable insights into starting and advancing your career.

Without further ado, here's what you need to know for each one.

5 Steps on how to become a lawyer

Image of a Smiling Lawyer
GPA Minimum3.3
Undergrad MajorAny
Years in School7
Avg LSAT Score~150

Step 1: Complete a bachelor's degree program

Any major you study in your undergrad will do. People have entered law school with degrees in English, music, engineering. The university where you complete your undergrad does not mean you have to attain your law degree from there.

Step 2: Pass the LSAT

The LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test. Your score on this test will largely determine how well you fare when being admitted to law schools. You can write the test multiple times, but be sure with the law school how they tackle multiple testings. Some average, some take the highest mark.

Step 3: Apply for law schools

The conventional wisdom is to be mindful of where you want to practice law because law schools tend to have a curriculum that is regionally influenced. You can expect special programs uniquely offered from various law schools.

Step 4: Earn a JD degree

You need a JD degree to practice law in the US, and is only offered by ABA-accredited laws schools. It takes three years to complete. Students begin seeking jobs in the field in the first summer to gain legal experience.

Step 5: Pass the bar exam

This is a two-day affair, lasting 7 hours each day. Pass both exams and you get to practice law.

Learn More - Passing the LSAT Tips

7 Steps on how to become a doctor

Image of a Smiliing African-American Doctor Holding A Tablet
GPA Minimum3.7
Undergrad MajorAny
Years in School8
Avg MCAT Score~510 - 511

Step 1: Complete an undergraduate degree

It'd be to your benefit to earn your bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a major in the sciences, as these are preferred by medical schools. However, you can earn your degree from any major, so long as you take the pre-requisite courses to get into medical school.

Step 2: Pass the MCAT exam

MCAT stands for Medical College Admission Test. Applicants tend to study for 4-6 months before taking the test and have GPA in the 3.7 to 4.0 range before applying.

Step 3: Apply to medical school

This isn't as simple as handing in an application, you also have to go through an interview to demonstrate your character traits. This means a measure of your maturity, compassion and interpersonal skills.

Step 4: Pass parts I & II of the USMLE

What you score in your United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is taken into account to determine your consideration for residency programs. Part I is typically taken after your second year of medical school to test your foundational sciences. Part II of the USMLE tests your clinical knowledge and is commonly taken in the fourth year.

Step 5: Match with residency

Near the end of your time in medical school, you'll have to start applying for residency programs. Residency is oftentimes a three-year program where you're supervised under a mentoring system that allows you to experience different specialty fields in a clinic.

Step 6: Pass part III of the USMLE & finish residency

Before you take part III of the USMLE, you have to have obtained an MD degree and have passed part I and II. Passing part III earns you a license as a practicing physician.

Step 7: Apply for jobs

All those grueling years in school and residency, the common struggles of finding a job is merely in finding the right fit. Cast a wide net and see what's most appropriate for you with the plentiful options you have.

5 Steps on how to become an accountant

Image of a Happy Cute Female Accountant Doing Taxes
GPA Minimum2.0
Undergrad MajorAny
Years in School4
CPA Passing Score~150
Step 1: Earn a bachelor's degree

Pick and choose any degree you want to pursue, but a bachelor in business is useful because it can best prepare you for the CPA exam.

Step 2: Decide between accountant and CPA

All CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. CPAs have greater access to more industries because of more experience, education and knowledge.

Step 3: Pass the Uniform CPA exam

This is a very hard exam involving four parts. It's offered on the first two months of every quarter.

Step 4: Apply for jobs

You will need 12 months of general accounting experience and 500 hours of attest experience to be licensed as a CPA.

Step 5: Acquire CPA license

This is the highest standard of competence for accountants. This will help you stand out and earn more as an accountant.

4 Steps on how to become a registered nurse

Image of a Female and African-American Nurse Looking at a Clipboard
GPA Minimum3.0
Undergrad MajorNursing
Years in School4
Avg NCLEX Score0.00

Step 1: Complete a nursing bachelor program

Nurses have many specialties, so it's worthwhile it think about which work environment you wish to work in as a future nurse.

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN exam

Taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) means you have to answer the minimum number of questions (75) given a maximum time of 6 hours to complete.

Step 3: Get a state license

These license procedures differ from state to state, but every state requires you to have one in order to practice as a nurse.

Step 3: Apply for jobs

Find a suitable work environment. Some locations have better nursing opportunities than others.

5 Steps on how to become a dentist
Image of Smiling Dentist Male

GPA Minimum3.7
Undergrad MajorAny
Years in School8
Avg DAT Score~19.9

Step 1: Complete a bachelor's degree

Get your bachelor's in any any major, so long as take prerequisite courses. Most dental schools require these prerequisite courses to be completed with at least a C grade.

Step 2: Score well on the DAT

The DAT stands for Dental Aptitude Test. It's an online exam taken 15 months before beginning dental school.

Step 3: Complete a doctoral degree

Dental school typically lasts four years. What you get out of it depends on which degree you're pursuing: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

Step 4: Pass national and state licensing exam

To be a practicing dentist, you need a state license. You will need to pass a 2-part written exam offered by the National Board Dental Examinations in order to get one.

Step 5: Apply for jobs

Private practice or corporate dental office? This is entirely your preference.

5 Steps on how to become an optometrist

Image of a Male Optometrist inspecting the eyes of a female patient
GPA Minimum3.5
Undergrad MajorBio, chem or physio
Years in School8
Avg OAT Score~300

Step 1: Earn a bachelor's degree

The recommended degree is one that places has greater focus on pre-med or in biological sciences. You will need to take prerequisite courses.

Step 2: Pass the OAT

This is the Optometry Admission Test, which is essentially the gateway to optometry school. It's scored based on the number of correct answers, so make guesses all you want, if you have to.

Step 3: Complete a doctoral degree

A doctoral degree in optometry is typically four years.

Step 4: Pass the NBEO

You will need to pass all sections of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO)

Step 5: Get a state license

Find a license where you want to reside and practice. Some states will want you to take an clinical additional exam, typically on law.

6 Steps on how to become a pharmacist

Image of a Smiling Female Pharmacist with her Arms Crossed
GPA Minimum3.6
Undergrad MajorBio, chem or physio
Years in School8
Avg PCAT Score400

Step 1: Earn a bachelor's degree

A degree that gives you a strong background in the sciences is recommended, but pharmacy schools have different admission requirements, so contact them first.

Step 2: Pass the PCAT

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a four and a half test that pharmacy schools can use to evaluate your candidacy for their program. Keep in mind, pharmacy schools have their own standards for acceptable scores.

Step 3: Complete pharmacy doctoral program

This is a four year program, whereupon the fourth year of a pharmacy program gives you hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

Step 4: Pass the NAPLEX and MPJE exam

Passing the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) allows you practice and transfer your license to another state.

Step 5: Match with residency

Residency is a two-year endeavor that has two phases: postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) and post graduate year 2(PGY2). These are undertaken to learn more about a chosen specialty.

Step 6: Get a state license

All states require pharmacists in order to practice. Getting a state license requires passing two license examinations.

Step 7: Apply for jobs

Hospitals, pharmaceutical industries, retail chains, or government agencies. The choices are many.

6 Steps on how to become an electrical  engineer

Image of Two Electrical Engineers Bent Over Looking at a Laptop
GPA Minimum2.7
Undergrad MajorElectrical Engineering
Years in School4
FE Passing Score60% - 70%

Step 1: Earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering

Pretty straightforward, just make sure the degree is an ABET-accredited engineering program.

Step 2: Pass the FE exam

You need a license to offer your engineering services to the public. The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam typically requires a passing score of 60% - 70%.

Step 3: Apply for jobs

Landing a job as an electrical engineer is means dishing out as resumes to as many firms as possible.

Step 4: Acquire 4 years of work experience

Get four years of work experience to qualify to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

Step 5: Pass the PE exam

This is an 8-hour exam that, if passed, lets you obtain a license from your state's licensing board.

Step 6: Get a PE state license

This is optional, but getting a PE state license gives you the stamp of approval that speaks to your experience, knowledge and education.

5 Steps on how to become a mechanical engineer

Two Asian Male Mechanical Engineers Inspecting Machinery
GPA Minimum2.7
Undergrad MajorMechanical Engineering
Years in School4
FE Passing Score60% - 70%

Step 1: Earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering

Make sure the school's mechanical engineering program is ABET-accredited.

Step 2: Pass the FE exam

Like an electrical engineer, you need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam in order to serve the general public.

Step 3: Apply for jobs

Apply to as many firms as you need to get the job of landing the job done.

Step 4: Acquire 4 years of work experience

Four years of work experience opens you up to the opportunity to the Principles and Practices of Engineering (PE) exam to earn your Professional Engineer licensure.

Step 5: Pass the PE exam

Passing the PE exam puts you in a strong position to field interest from firms for your experienced and knowledgeable background in mechanical engineering.

5 Steps on how to become a veterinarian

Young Female Veterinarian Checking Up The Dog at the Veterinarian Clinic
GPA Minimum3.3
Undergrad MajorBio or general science
Years in School8
Avg GRE Score~150 - 152

Step 1: Complete a bachelor's degree

Any bachelor degree is OK, so long as you take prerequisite courses (with some in advanced science courses). Make sure with your desired vet school and maintain a competitive GPA (~3.5 GPA).

Step 2: Pass the GRE

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a test most veterinarian schools require you to take and pass to get in. Some might require a biology GRE, while some accept MCAT. Check with your preferred vet school.

Step 3: Earn a doctor of veterinary medicine degree

This is typically a four year degree program to earn a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree.

Step 4: Pass the NAVLE 

To pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), you need to answer 55% to 65% of the 360 multiple choice questions correctly.

Step 5: Apply for jobs

Job opportunities open up after vet school: ecologist, environmental consultant, research scientist, etc. Get two years of private practice experience and you are eligible to apply for residency programs.

Step 6: Match with residency

Board certification and practice in your preferred specialty is the aim of residency.


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