A pharmacy degree can often lead to a career full of prospect. We’ve outlined some of the career options and the reasons why they attract thousands of students each year.
The medical industry is exploding in importance, prevalence, and profitability. As medical science becomes more advanced and people gradually live longer, the medicines we take to ensure length and quality of life are becoming increasingly important.
The people working in the pharmacy industry are aware of this, and take their job with the utmost seriousness, understanding the great responsibility they bear.
Maybe you think you would like to join them.
If so, you’ll need to obtain a four-year pharmacy degree in the UK and train with an established reputable pharmacy.
Let’s take a look at what’s required for all of that to happen, and how you can best set yourself up to make that dream a reality.
What Career Can I Have with a Pharmacy Degree?
A pharmacy degree can set you up with solid jobs in everything from hospitals to NHS care centres to independent pharmacies.
You may want to do a pharmacy degree if you intend on also assisting doctors with surgeries or pursue the experimental and academic side of medicine and pharmaceutical treatments at universities.
Doing a pharmacy degree can allow you to become a pharmacist and become a pioneer in drug development, working in the pharmaceutical industry and being part of the forefront of new medicine innovation and discovery.
To do work in any of these places, you will need to obtain a pharmacy degree, also known as a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm). These courses combine undergraduate and graduate courses into a cohesive four-year programme.
A few of the potential career paths you can pursue include:
- Community Pharmacist: Whether you work in a private pharmacy or hospital, for the NHS or a private practice, as a pharmacist you will be tasked with mixing and administering patients’ medicines. This must be done with the utmost care. People place an enormous amount of trust in their pharmacies and the medicines they receive from them. You will, therefore, be a vital pillar in upholding and maintaining that trust, serving members of the community.
Pre-registration trainee: £16,000 – £20,000
Starting Salary: £30,000 – £35,000
Once experienced: £35,000 – £45,000
Senior-level salary: £50,000 – £70,000
- Hospital pharmacist: A hospital pharmacist is very similar to a community one, just in a hospital. It likely won’t be a store the same way a community pharmacy is meaning you will spend more time behind the counter and in the back office. Since you are in a hospital you will also work directly with the doctors, offering consulting advice and your recommendations where needed. You will be responsible for filling the patient prescriptions for everyone in the hospital, this can be a very demanding job and is often harder to secure. If you do secure one though, you can potentially earn much more money than a community pharmacist.
Starting Salary: £26,000 – £35,000
Once experienced: £31,000 – £41,000
Senior-level Salary: £40,000 – £100,000
- Military Pharmacist: Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less than the best care. As a military pharmacist, you’ll be able to give back to those who give everything for our country.
- Veterinary Pharmacist: Our pets give us nothing but compassion and loyalty, and deserve nothing less in return. If you love pets, you may want to consider using a pharmacy degree and your pharmaceutical focus to developing and administering medicine for pets.
- Research (Industrial) Pharmacist: Maybe medical research is where your heart lies. If so a pharmacy degree can lead to a job as a research pharmacist, and can allow you to put your biochemical knowledge to work by exploring and developing ground-breaking and potentially life-saving medicines.
Starting Salary: Around £15,000
Once Experienced: £25,000 – £40,000
Senior-level Salary: £50,000 – £75,000
- Private Practice: While the link between big business and medicine can be problematic, it is also undeniably more present in our lives than ever before. One of the advantages of a pharmacy degree from an employability standpoint is that it gives you an immediate connection to the private sector if that’s where you want to go. If you are interested in the business side of pharmaceuticals, your knowledge of the field from a scientific and medical perspective can be invaluable to helping you uphold a company’s ethical standards, which are so essential to quality patient care.
The average career salary for someone with a pharmacy degree can vary vastly.
As you saw above, the average salary for a community pharmacist is around £25,000 – £35,000 per year.
A pharmacy degree leading to a career as a Hospital pharmacist can mean you earn slightly higher after years of experience as you climb up the career ladder.
This may sound underwhelming. Especially after studying for so long, you would be expecting to make more. This is true, in the UK pharmacists are underpaid for the level of skill and knowledge they posses.
However, if you take a trip across the pond, you will see that the grass is definitely greener on the other side. The American dream is certainly well and alive.
In America, Pharmacists make around $125,000 per year (£96,000). This can go higher to $150,000 a year for a pharmacy manager. There are multiple reasons for this difference in salary but mainly it is to do with the fact that America has a private healthcare system hence prices for drugs and healthcare is generally higher.
What Do You Study in a Pharmacy Degree?
When pursuing a pharmacy degree, you can expect to study everything from human biology and physiology to the biochemistry that goes into medicine to the proper methods of mixing and administering them.
In biochemistry modules, for example, you’ll learn about the interplay between the biological and chemical components of different mixtures. You will then be able to relate that back to your pharmaceutical focus. Modules such as these also tend to have lots of laboratory time, which can be good practice for a future pharmacist job.
What Skills Do You Need to Study Pharmacy at University?
Commiting to a pharmacy degree is a big step. To ensure you make the right decision you should know what a pharmacy degree consists of.
A pharmacy degree often entails some of the most important skills required by pharmacists in the real world. Some of the skills you need to possess when going into a pharmacy degree at university include:
- Good Maths: Students of a pharmacy degree need to understand that medicine must be mixed to precise ratios. There is little to no room for error, which means your calculations must be exact when determining how much medicine to mix for or administer to a patient. You therefore need to have excellent math skills to complete a pharmacy degree.
- Understanding of Biology: Students of a pharmacy degree most certainly require a working knowledge of biology and the human body. This, in particular, is essential for a pharmacy degree and being able to offer sound medical and pharmaceutical treatment is valuable in real world pharmacy life.
- Understanding of Chemistry: During a pharmacy degree you will be spending a lot of your time mixing chemical compounds, so a good grasp of chemistry is a must.
What Are The Pharmacist Requirements for NHS?
One of the biggest employers of pharmacists in the UK is NHS, and with good reason. It provides some of the most important and literally lifesaving services in the UK.
To work as a pharmacist for NHS, you will have to meet the following requirements:
- Have an MPharm (pharmaceutical masters degree)
- Have a BTEC, HND, or HNC (must include science)
- Have a relevant NVQ
- Take a relevant science-based access course
- Obtain the equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications for work in Scotland or Northern Ireland
For those looking for a potent mixture of caretaking, career security, and scientific experience, a pharmacy degree may be just what the doctor ordered.
To read more about the benefits of a pharmacy degree, why a pharmacy degree will help you, and reasons you may enjoy a career in pharmaceuticals we recommend Pharmacist 101: 101 Tips to Start, Grow, and Succeed as a Pharmacist.