Pharmacists make a difference to the lives of their patients through an expert knowledge of medicines and health.  

Helping people live longer and healthier lives depends on the safe use of medicines and excellent healthcare advice. Pharmacists' unique expertise and knowledge makes them essential members of the healthcare team.

You'll combine a love of science with a desire to improve lives and be rewarded with a stimulating career across a range of settings and industries.

Working life

You’ll use your expert knowledge of medicines and health to make a positive difference to people’s lives and wellbeing. You’ll provide care in a range of settings, often at the heart of local communities. You’ll also have a role in preventing people from getting sick by helping them live healthier lifestyles and making sure they get the most from their medicines. 

You’ll also work daily with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and healthcare scientists, using scientific evidence to deliver care in your local community. 

Pay and benefits

If you work in the NHS, for example in a hospital or a GP practice, you’ll usually start on band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scale. As your NHS career progresses, you could reach band 9 as a chief pharmacist.  

You’ll also get at least 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays which increases after five years of service, as well as the NHS pension scheme.

If you’re working in a sector such as a community pharmacy, pay and benefits may differ but are typically in line with the NHS agenda for change pay rates. You may even choose to own and run your own community pharmacy.

Where could you work?  

  • community pharmacy
  • hospitals
  • mental health services
  • primary care including in general practice
  • academia
  • the pharmaceutical industry

Whatever setting you work in, you’ll develop a broad range of skills. You’ll spend time using your clinical knowledge, leading teams, undertaking research, education and training, along with developing business acumen and managing finances. 

How to become a pharmacist 

  • You need to complete a five-year programme of academic and practice-based teaching 
  • In your first four years, you will study for a Master's degree in pharmacy (MPharm) at university  
  • This is followed by a one year paid work placement called a foundation training year
  • After your foundation year, you can register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and legally practise as a pharmacist

Entry requirements 

There are no set university entry requirements but generally you’ll need:  

  • three A-levels or equivalent in chemistry and a second science or maths, typically offers range from AAB to BBB 
  • pharmacy degrees with a foundation year may have lower grade requirements 
  • GCSEs are considered alongside A-levels, with most schools of pharmacy expecting a minimum of five GCSEs including maths, English language and one science 
  • some universities accept vocational qualifications such as BTEC Level 3, National Extended Diploma in Applied Sciences or the Access to HE Diploma 

You can find all UK courses running pharmacy courses at the bottom of this page.  

To find out more about studying pharmacy go to Pharmacy Schools Council website and for advice about the application process visit Studying Healthcare website.  

Must-have skills

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills  
  • Be able to work as part of a team with other professionals
  • Attention to detail 

"The best bit about the role is knowing you have positively impacted someone’s health. Over time, you get to see the positive impact your advice and care has had on your patients and their love ones."

Read Aditya's story

Training and development

You’ll need to undertake regular continual professional development (CPD) to keep up to date with the latest developments in drug research and develop their skills. This will mean you being able to stay registered as a pharmacist.  

Once qualified, you can undertake a range of training, which will support you in your chosen career path. Training opportunities may include in-house training provided by your employer, or regionally or nationally organised courses.  

Where can pharmacy take you 

Being a pharmacist can open many doors:  

  • work in hospitals, GP surgeries, prisons and community pharmacy 
  • working in the pharmaceutical industry  
  • working in management or academia 
  • advise the government on how best to make the most out of medicines and pharmacy services.
  • teaching the future pharmacy workforce using the latest technology such as virtual reality 

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