Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use. They also offer health advice to patients on issues such as sexual health and giving up smoking. 

See how they use their knowledge of medicines to help people with every type of medical condition and find out how you could use your science skills to become a pharmacist.


Working life

Medicines are the most common treatments offered to NHS patients. A pharmacist is an expert in medicines and their use. Their knowledge of medicines and the effect they have on the human body is critical for the successful management of every type of medical condition.


Pharmacists are also involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available. For example, certain cancer treatments and intravenous feeding solutions need to be tailor made under sterile conditions for individual patients.

Pharmacists work as part of healthcare teams in hospitals or community pharmacies. Some work in retail pharmacies in supermarkets or on the high street, or for other employers that provide NHS services. Community pharmacists are based in health centres or pharmacies but they may spend time visiting patients at home or in residential homes.

Pharmacists may also supervise pharmacy technician and pharmacy assistants in purchasing, quality testing or dispensing medicines. 

Entry requirements 

To practise as a pharmacist, you have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). To register, you need to study for an accredited Masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm). Universities across the UK offer the course, which lasts four years, full time. Use our course finder to find out where you can study pharmacy.

To get onto a Master's course in pharmacy you need three A-B grade A-levels in chemistry and biology, maths or physics along with five GCSEs (grades 9-4/A-C), including English language, maths and at least one science.

Or you could use alternative qualifications, including:

However, each institution sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully. Wherever you study, you will need to show that you have an understanding of pharmacy and how it benefits patients. It is a good idea to spend some time with a registered pharmacist to see what the work is like.

After university, to become a fully qualified pharmacist you'll need to:

Skills and personal characteristics needed 

Pharmacists need to be:

Training and development

Once qualified, many pharmacists join the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). Registered pharmacists have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual continuing professional development (CPD). The RPS runs courses, conferences and seminars where pharmacists can exchange ideas and update their skills.

Experienced pharmacists can do additional training and qualifications to allow them to prescribe medicines.

Career Planning for Healthcare Professionals programme

Health Education England has developed an e-learning programme for healthcare professionals including pre-registration / foundation pharmacists, to help them make informed career choices and effective applications for their next career steps.

Find out more about the programme

Want to find out more?

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve Health Careers