Pharmacologists study the effects of drugs and other chemical substances on cells, animals, humans and the environment.
Salary range: £25,000 to £80,000
How to become a pharmacologist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
You’ll need a science degree to become a pharmacologist. Pharmacology is the most relevant subject, although a degree in biochemistry, physiology, or microbiology may also be accepted by employers.
A postgraduate qualification may also be a requirement when applying for some jobs.
Some courses include a year working in industry, which will give you an advantage when you start applying for work. You can also get experience by working as a lab assistant or through work shadowing.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the British Pharmalogical Society for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
You can find out more about becoming a pharmacologist through the British Pharmacological Society and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of biology
- thinking and reasoning skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- complex problem-solving skills
- the ability to use your initiative
- analytical thinking skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- excellent written communication skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- designing, setting up and carrying out experiments
- analysing data using complex equipment and measuring systems
- testing drugs on cells in labs and through clinical trials
- making recommendations using the results of research to develop new products and manufacturing processes
- studying the effects of drugs and testing the safety of manufactured products
You could work in a laboratory.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could progress to supervisor or manager. You could also move into medical sales and marketing, drug registration, patent work or information science.
You could work in research and development with a postgraduate degree in pharmacology or a relevant PhD.