Pharmacist

Alternative titles for this job include Dispensing chemist, community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist

Pharmacists provide expert advice on the use and supply of medicines and medical appliances.

Average salary (a year)

£30,500 Starter

to

£45,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37.5 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on a rota

How to become a pharmacist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You'll need to complete:

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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level for a foundation degree 
  • 3 A levels at grade B or above in chemistry, and either biology, physics or maths to get onto a pharmacy degree

More information

More information

Further information

You'll find more on pharmacy careers and training from Health Careers and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • 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

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

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.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a pharmacist right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Are you interested in becoming a pharmacist?

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JobsIn the United Kingdom

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