what is a pharmacist?

As a pharmacist, you handle prescriptions and guide customers on how to use medications properly. You fill prescriptions issued by healthcare professionals. If the medications are unavailable, you advise patients on alternatives and explain the possible side effects of the drugs.

A pharmacist typically works in a chemist's shop dispensing prescription medication. You help customers choose over-the-counter medicines for minor ailments. As a pharmacist, you answer health-related questions, from inquiries about various drugs to methods of use. Some pharmacists also work in hospitals and research facilities. Pharmacists' careers have evolved from the historical focus on the distribution of medicines to an emphasis on safe and rational drug use. They provide a pharmaceutical service that revolves around preventative health care and monitoring medication use.

The provision of pharmaceutical care relies on understanding the characteristics of medications, from dosage formulations to the dispersal of drugs in the body. You should also understand drugs' interactions with the human body to determine their effects.

Personal attributes necessary for pharmacists include compassion and genuine care for patients. It is also important to be accurate to avoid administering the wrong medication.

Would working as a pharmacist suit your caring personality and interest in science? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a pharmacist role.

pharmacist jobs

average pharmacist salary

According to National Careers, the median salary of pharmacists ranges from £32,305 to £45,838 per year. The salaries are based on the Agenda for Change pay structure for NHS pharmacists. Newly qualified pharmacists working for the NHS start at Band 6 with a salary range from £32,305 to £39,207 per year. As you improve your experience or complete further training in the field, you progress to Band 7, with earnings set at £40,057 to £45,838 annually.

When you move to senior-level positions, your compensation package ranges from £47,126 to £90,387 per year (Band 8a to 8d). Chief pharmacists receive a Band 9 salary of £93,735 to £108,075 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a pharmacist?

The compensation package of a pharmacist depends on their work setting. In large private hospitals, pharmacists receive a higher compensation package than NHS pharmacists. Senior-level pharmacists take home higher compensation packages due to their expertise. Having additional qualifications also improves your salary prospects.

Womale putting away files while sitting at her desk in her home office.
Womale putting away files while sitting at her desk in her home office.

types of pharmacists

Some of the types of pharmacists include:

  • community pharmacists: you work in chemist shops and pharmacy counters in larger shops. Your job is to administer medications to patients based on their prescriptions. You also answer any questions they have about over-the-counter medication and explain the side effects. Sometimes, you also provide primary care like administering flu jabs.
  • clinical pharmacists: you work in hospitals and other healthcare settings. You dispense medication and provide patient care. You may go on rounds with doctors and healthcare teams. Your job is to recommend the drugs to administer to patients and oversee the dosage and delivery times of the medications. You may also conduct some medical tests.
  • academic pharmacists: you conduct research on medicines and publish articles on new types of drugs for various diseases. You also lecture trainee pharmacists and mentor them by supervising their practice.

working as a pharmacist

If you love science and medicine, being a pharmacist is an ideal career that allows you to help people. Read on for details on the tasks and responsibilities involved in the role.


education and skills

To become a pharmacist, you require the following educational qualifications:

  • university course: pursue a master of pharmacy degree approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council to become a pharmacist. The entry requirements for the 4-year degree are 2 to 3 A levels, including chemistry. After the degree, you complete a pre-registration training course. If you don't meet the qualifications for the degree, you can complete a foundation degree that takes two years. When you complete the foundation degree, you can become a pharmacy assistant or technician and join the MPharm degree in its second year.
  • work experience: when you complete your education, you can gain work experience through internships and entry-level roles. Becoming a pharmacy assistant gives you experience in the role.

pharmacist skills and competencies

Important skills for pharmacists include:

  • accuracy: as a pharmacist, it is important to dispense proper medications for patients after reviewing their prescriptions. You also check their medical history to avoid potentially dangerous interactions. Attention to detail and a high level of accuracy help you provide patients with the correct medicines and appropriate methods of use.
  • problem-solving skills: you assist patients in solving pharmaceutical challenges, such as identifying medication from damaged labels. Since you analyse how various medications interact with the human body, you help doctors find the best pharmaceutical solution. Problem-solving skills are useful in working out the best possible solutions.
  • communication skills: you require exceptional communication skills to explain medical concepts to patients. Providing clear and concise information is important in ensuring patients don't misuse prescriptions.
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woman closeup


FAQs about working as a pharmacist

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