Dispensing chemist, community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist
Pharmacists provide expert advice on the use and supply of medicines and medical appliances.
Salary range: £30,500 to £45,000
How to become a pharmacist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
You’ll need to complete:
- a 4-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council
- a one year pre-registration training course in pharmacy
If you do not have the qualifications to get onto a MPharm degree, you could do a 2-year pharmacy foundation degree. You would then take a job as a pharmacy assistant or technician and apply for the MPharm degree in your second year.
You’ll usually need:
- at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
- 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including chemistry
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
- you’ll need to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- sensitivity and understanding
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- maths knowledge
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to read English
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
Your tasks will depend on which area of pharmacy you work in, and could include:
- dispensing medicines in a community pharmacy, hospital or a GP practice clinic
- giving healthcare advice about prescription and over-the-counter medicines
- advising on drug dosages and risks, to the public, patients, GPs and nurses
- running screening programmes for diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure
- visiting care homes or hospital wards to advise on the use and storage of medications
- ordering and controlling stock
- running a business, including supervising and training staff
- producing medicines when ready-made ones aren’t available, for example, cancer treatments
- buying, quality testing and distributing medicines throughout a hospital
- supervising trainees and junior pharmacists
In education or industry, you could be:
- doing research into new medicines
- running clinical trials
You could work at a store, in an NHS or private hospital or at an adult care home.
Career path and progression
There’s a formal career structure in the NHS, so with experience you could progress to team manager or pharmacy consultant. You could also work in GPs’ surgeries or health centres.
Promotion opportunities can be good if you’re working for one of the larger pharmacy chains where you can apply for regional or national management positions.With experience, you could set up your own community pharmacy business.
After further training, you could go on to teach pharmacy students at university.
Another option is to move into related areas like scientific journalism or publishing.
To do research, you’ll need a further postgraduate qualification in a subject like toxicology or pharmacology.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society offers professional support services.