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Pharmacologists study the effects of drugs and other chemical substances on cells, animals, humans and the environment.

Annual Salary

£25,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Pharmacologist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As part of your day-to-day duties, you might:

  • design, set up and carry out experiments
  • analyse data using complex equipment and measuring systems
  • test drugs on cells in labs and through clinical trials
  • make recommendations using the results of research to develop new products and manufacturing processes
  • study the effects of drugs and test the safety of manufactured products

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a laboratory.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

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.

Entry requirements

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
For more information

You could do a Clinical pharmacology scientist degree apprenticeship.

As an apprentice clinical pharmacologist you would follow medicines through their entire lifecycle including:

  • discovery to research
  • dosage recommendations
  • safety and efficacy
  • marketing and approval

You may need to be:already working in a clinical pharmacology role; a pharmacist looking to use your skills in research; a science graduate

Entry requirements

To do this apprenticeship, you'll need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject
For more information

More information

Career tips

It's useful to look for work experience opportunities or internships while you are studying that give you the chance to gain laboratory skills like:using pipettes; sterilising equipment; setting up analytical instruments; following safety standards and procedures

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British Pharmacological Society for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a pharmacologist through the British Pharmacological Society and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

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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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • science skills
  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • maths knowledge
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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