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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 £80,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 3% more Pharmacologist jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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 testing 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

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

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British Pharmalogical 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.

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
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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