How do I become a pharmacist?

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and as one of the fastest growing areas of healthcare play a key role in improving the health of the nation, and ensuring patient safety.

They are experts in medicines and their use. They have a unique set of skills and knowledge, they train as scientists and clinicians. They use this scientific knowledge to advise patients how to take their medicines and make recommendations on the best medicine for particular conditions and diseases. Pharmacists are the third largest healthcare profession in Great Britain.

Pharmacists work in a number of different settings, developing new medicines, supplying medicines, providing advice about medicines, and offering health services. Some pharmacists are also prescribers, and like doctors can prescribe medicines on prescriptions. They also work within the wider healthcare team, ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. Pharmacists also work in other roles where there may be less direct contact with patients, for example in universities, regulation, government organisations, research, publishing and the pharmaceutical industry. 

Pharmacists must have very good communication skills, as they are required to translate technical medical information to patients. They often work in busy environments and must be organised, logical, be able to manage multiple tasks, and remain calm under pressure. They should also have a good eye for detail and be thorough and accurate in what they do. Pharmacists work in teams and are often involved in education and training others, so good people skills are also essential.

What qualifications do I need?


  • At least five GCSEs in English, Maths and Double Science.

College & Higher Education

  • A-levels in Chemistry and two of Biology/Mathematics/Physics at A - B grade. 
  • At least AABB or AAABB in Chemistry, Maths, English, Physics, and Biology/Human Biology, if you're a Scottish student. You may also be expected to take Advanced Highers in Chemistry and/or Biology. 

We always advise checking entry requirements with any potential universities.   



  • To register with the regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), you'll also need to complete one year's practical training placement and pass the registration exam. 

What personal skills should I have?

You should: 

  • Have an analytical mind and pay great attention to detail
  • Be friendly and like people
  • Have good communication skills and be able to explain things simply

What's the pay like?

Although we can't advise on exact salary figures, a quick survey shows that as a qualified pharmacist you could probably expect a starting salary equivalent to around £20,000 to £30,000 depending on the area of pharmacy you choose to work in.

After 10 years you could expect to be earning between £35,000 and £60,000. 

Pharmacy technicians could expect a starting salary equivalent to around £13,000 to £15,000 rising to £25,000 to £30,000 after 10 years.

What can I do with a pharmacy degree?

You've got your pharmacy degree, what now? Pharmacists are valued health professionals and after five years of study and training you’ll find many doors open to you and a career that offers security, flexibility, variety, opportunity, satisfaction and excellent rewards.

Pharmacists’ roles are constantly evolving and new roles are now emerging in exciting areas of healthcare. Many of the experiences and skills you develop in practice can be transferred to other pharmacy environments and roles.

Portfolio careers straddle several sectors of the profession. As a pharmacist, around 80% of your skills are transferable and the other 20% can be learned and adapted for new roles. Today, it is very common to have a job in more than one area of pharmacy, either working part time in different places or moving through different sectors as your career develops. As new and more clinical roles evolve, the world of pharmacy is moving away from working in silos and in defined pharmacy sectors, and towards a more generic approach.

Materials for teachers & careers advisors

We've produced a leaflet for students aged 13-17 years who are interested in a career in pharmacy.

For those who are giving talks at local schools and careers fairs, we've created a careers presentation . 

The presentation, ‘Interested in pharmacy?, is a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and set of speakers notes. The presentation explains how pharmacists fit into the overall health care mix and gives details qualifications and skills that students will need to study pharmacy. There is plenty of scope within the presentation for presenters to add their own anecdotes, advice, guidance and local information.