How do I become a pharmacist?

Experts in medicines, pharmacists play a key role in improving the health of the nation, and ensuring patient safety. No wonder that pharmacy is one of the fastest growing areas of healthcare!

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use: they train as scientists and clinicians and have a unique set of skills and knowledge. Using this scientific knowledge they advise patients on how to take medicines and recommend the best medicine for particular conditions and diseases.

The third largest healthcare profession in Great Britain, pharmacists work in many 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 with less direct contact with patients, for example, in universities, regulation, government organisations, research, publishing and the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacists need excellent communication skills to translate technical medical information to patients, and because they often work in busy environments must be organised, logical, able to manage multiple tasks and remain calm under pressure. They have a good eye for detail and are 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 essential, too.

What qualifications do I need to train as a pharmacist?

School

  • GCSEs: five or more in English, Maths and Double Science.

College & higher education

  • A-levels in Chemistry and two of Biology/Mathematics/Physics at A-B grade.
  • AABB or AAABB or higherin 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.

University

Registration

  • 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.

We need your support.

PharmacyCross

Your dedication and commitment during the pandemic has been exceptional.

As we brace for a surge of coronavirus infections, we know that pharmacy will be at the forefront of delivering healthcare.

Whether it’s flu vaccinations or dealing with local lockdowns we need decisions and assurances from the Government to make sure our profession can cope. We must make sure pharmacists get enough supplies of PPE, rapid access to testing in all care settings, and the recognition you deserve.

You told us that our leadership and resources during in the early months of the pandemic were of critical importance. We are now updating our highly valued COVID-19 resources and training webinars to make sure they reflect current - and changing - guidance.

If the enormous mental and physical strain of the past few months is repeated ahead of this winter, the health service will be on its knees. We will be there to make sure pharmacists get mental health and wellbeing support.

We will continue to work hard to give you the tools and guidance to do your job safely. And fight to make sure you get the recognition you deserve.
We are proud to support you. But without members, none of this will be possible.

Become a member and help us do even more.
Joining costs just 60p a day. And means that, whatever the future holds, we will be here for you, so you can support the public and patients.

Join today to protect the future of pharmacy

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?

27 Cross

As a valued health professional, 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, as your career develops, it's 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 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.