(Dispensing chemist, community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist)

Pharmacists provide expert advice on the use and supply of medicines and medical appliances.

You will need to do a:

  • 4 Year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC);
  • 1-year pre-registration training course in a pharmacy;
  • registration exam.

If you don’t have the qualifications to get onto an MPharm degree, you could do a 2-year pharmacy foundation degree. You could then take a job as a pharmacy assistant or technician and apply for the MPharm degree directly into year two.

If you don’t have science A levels, you could do a 5 year course at a few universities.


Pharmacists have a highly responsible job, dispensing drugs and checking prescriptions according to strict controls.  You’ll need the following skills:

  • abilities in science and maths;
  • very high standards of accuracy and attention to detail;
  • excellent customer care and communication skills;
  • organisational skills and ability to prioritise work;
  • business skills (if you’re running a community pharmacy).
You could work in different areas, including:

Community Pharmacy

  • dispensing medicines in a high street or supermarket pharmacy
  • giving healthcare advice about prescription and over-the-counter medicines;
  • advising on drug dosages and risks;
  • running screening programmes for diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure;
  • visiting care homes to advise on the use and storage of medications;
  • ordering and controlling stock;
  • running a business, including supervising and training staff.

Hospital Pharmacy:

  • working with doctors and nurses and other healthcare staff;
  • producing medicines when ready-made ones aren’t available, for example, cancer treatments;
  • buying, quality testing and distributing medicines throughout the hospital;
  • visiting wards and patients to talk about medicines and dosages;
  • dispensing medicines for patients being discharged from hospital;
  • supervising trainees and junior pharmacists.

Local NHS Service:

  • giving advice to GPs and nurses on how to choose and prescribe medicines;
  • running GP practice clinics.

Education or Industry:

  • doing research into new medicines;
  • running clinical trials.

In all of the above roles, you’ll observe high standards of security and confidentiality.

The following is a guide only:

  • Starter: £26,500.
  • Experienced: £32,000 to £41,000.
  • Highly Experienced: £41,000 to £83,000.

These figures are taken from NHS pay grades. In a community pharmacy, salaries can be similar.

Working Conditions

  • You’ll usually work 37.5 hours a week, including weekends and on call. As a community pharmacist, you could work up to 48 hours a week in a retail location.
  • As a hospital pharmacist, you might work in the NHS or at a private hospital.

Further Information

For further information click on the links below:

Next Steps

Health Careers


Royal Pharmaceutical Society