Career Guide


Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021

These days if you want to get yourself any medicine or plasters or bandages etc, chances are that you will need to visit your local pharmacy and grab it all from there.

Pharmacist giving advice

But what does a Pharmacist do and how do you become one? Well, let’s jump into our career guide and find out, shall we?

What is a pharmacist?

Most people have come across a pharmacist in their time, whether that be in the local chemist or picking up medication following a hospital visit. To gain a better understanding of the role, we’ll take a look at the pharmacist job description.

Pharmacists are experts in the field of medicines, with vast knowledge on how they are used and their effects on the body. They dispense prescriptions, purchase medicines and test their ability and quality. A pharmacist will check prescriptions for errors, ensure they are safe for the individual and provide advice on dosage.

What does a hospital pharmacist do?

What do pharmacists do? The role of a pharmacist in a hospital extends to ward rounds, taking patient drug histories, liaising with medical staff and discussing treatments with relatives, GPs and community pharmacists. A hospital pharmacy can answer questions about medicines dispensed from within hospitals, write guidelines for drug use and implement regulations.

The role of a hospital pharmacist also includes ensuring medicines are stored securely and appropriately, providing information on expenditure on drugs and teaching within the pharmacy department in the hospital. Also, hospital pharmacy jobs sometimes require individuals to set up and supervise clinical trials, prepare and check sterile medications, supervise other members of staff as well as contributing to research and development.

NHS pharmacy jobs manufacture medicines while working with nursing and medical staff, to ensure patients receive the best treatment and advice while in hospital. While most pharmacists are on the high street, community or in hospitals, the role can be found in nursing homes, GP surgeries, health centres and hospices.

The roles in the community or non-hospital settings have much of the same responsibilities, from dispensing medicines to managing stock and advising patients on their drugs. However, they are less likely to get involved in research, ward rounds and writing guidelines for drug use. A pharmacist can come under the hospital band concerning the pharmacist pay scale.

You may spend a lot of time working in radiopharmacy, the use of radioactive materials, or focus on medication management.

What pharmacist qualifications can you study?

To learn the necessary pharmacist skills, you need to hold the relevant qualifications. To become a hospital pharmacist, you will need to have a Master’s degree in pharmacy (also known as MPharm), which is accredited by the GPhC, the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Following this, you’ll complete a one-year pre-registration training in a hospital pharmacy where you will produce a portfolio as evidence of your learning. To work as a hospital pharmacist, you’ll need to pass a GPhC registration assessment, and apply for registration with GPhC which is necessary to practice as a pharmacist in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, pharmacists must register with the Pharmaceutical Society NI.

It is not possible to work as a pharmacist with a Higher National Diploma (HND) or without a degree. However, you can progress onto the MPharm Master’s course with an HND, Higher National Certificate, or BTEC qualification in science. A pharmacy technician cannot advance to a hospital pharmacist role, but they can still apply for a place on a relevant course.

Pharmacist Career

What skills are useful for pharmacists?

A pharmacist needs excellent communication and organisational skills as well as expertise on drugsand medicines and how they affect the body. Someone in this role should listen carefully to what patients or customers say, and prompt answers for information regarding symptoms or other medicines they are taking.

They can work as part of a multidisciplinary team and may be the only pharmacist in a centre or hospital. They typically have a genuine concern for the welfare of individuals, methodical approach to the work and a professional and approachable manner. Pharmacists have to have accuracy and attention to detail as the wrong dosage or mixture of drugs can be fatal in the worst scenarios. They have a high level of responsibility, lead and manage others and can work long hours which requires strong focus.

Can you work as a pharmacist remotely?

This role cannot be done from home or remotely. In most instances a pharmacist will be on the high street, large shopping facilities, hospitals, GPs, care homes or in the community.

How much do pharmacists earn?

One of the most common questions is, ‘how much do pharmacists get paid?’, or ‘what is the average wage of a pharmacist?’ The Average pharmacists’ salary is defined within the NHS Agenda for Change pay structure.

A pharmacist starting salary typically begins at around £31,365, with the pharmacy starting salary having the potential to be as high as £37,890 for newly-qualified individuals, (this is also known as the band 6 pharmacist salary). Moving higher for the band 7 pharmacist salary, pharmacist pay increases to around £38,890. With further study and training, the pharmacy pay scale can be as much as £44,503.

To gain a better understanding of the role, we’ll take a look at the pharmacist job description.

How much does a pharmacist make at senior level? Advanced pharmacist wage, or the pharmacist UK salary for consultants are much higher and can start at around £45,753 and can reach £87,754. It is also the same level for a band 8 pharmacist salary, between 8a and 8d, and will depend on training, knowledge and experience. Furthermore, the pharmacist wage for the most senior manager of pharmaceutical services can be between £91,004 and £104,927, also known as band 9. The salary of a pharmacist who works in a private hospital may be set at different levels and offer various benefits.

The NHS pharmacist salary can be increased by working overtime and completing bank shifts in GP surgeries and other hospitals. Typically, a person in this role will work 37.5 hours each week, but weekend and on-call work may be a part of the team rota.

There may also be some days where you are required to work longer or overtime hours when particular situations call for it. NHS Trusts can also employ locum staff to work in the hospital pharmacy, with locum staff working for an agency or individual hospitals on a casual basis. The NHS pharmacist salary for locum staff may also differ.

Most hospital pharmacists work for the NHS, but others choose to work in the private sector. From BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and BUPA, there are many other private companies available offering positions and a hospital pharmacist salary.

What is the average pre-registration pharmacist salary? Pre-reg pharmacy salary tends to stand at the band 5 level within the pay scale, which is usually around £24,214, but pre-reg pharmacist salary can be higher in London and the south-east of England due to the higher cost of living.


What are pharmacist prospects?

Firstly, you can choose to work in hospital pharmacist jobs, both in the NHS or in the private sector, and follow a structured career path towards clinical and management roles after passing further qualifications. Pharmacy prospects take individuals through various services within the hospital, from dispensary services and clinical pharmacy to clinical trials and technical services.

Moving higher for the band 7 pharmacist salary, pharmacist pay increases to around £38,890.

You may also spend a lot of time working in radiopharmacy, the use of radioactive materials, or focus on medication management. After two to three years of experience, candidates can apply for a band 7 pharmacist position to begin a more senior role. Pharmacy job prospects also include specialising in chosen areas, such as:

  • Paediatric care
  • Radiopharmacy
  • Haematology
  • Cardiology
  • Quality assurance
  • Procurement and distribution
  • Medicine care and information

Finally, you can choose to tutor pre-registration trainees, provide support to undergraduate students and deliver presentations to other medical staff.

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