How to Become a Pharmacist


Pharmacists advise the public and medical professionals on the best medicine to take and prescribe. Some work in stores, but they also may work in hospitals, pay at home visits, or in medical research centres.

Pharmacists are experts in medicine, and they work with their local medical facilities to dispense prescriptions to the general public. People mainly know pharmacists to work at community pharmacies, however those in this profession could also work in hospitals, clinics, or on a mobile basis, visiting patients in their homes. 

Their duties are diverse, depending on where they are stationed, but include: 

  • Advising healthcare professionals on the correct use of different medicines.
  • Taking steps to make sure that new medications are safe for different people.
  • Giving patients advice about the best treatment for them, including selling them over the counter medication or referring them to their doctor.
  • Providing information about medication dosage, warnings and side effects. 
  • Supervising other pharmacy employees, including pharmacist technicians and pharmacist assistants. 
  • Offering some general medical advice.
  • Administering vaccinations, including flu jabs and travel shots. 

Those working in independent pharmacies may also be partially in charge of the general running of the business, including making decisions about expansion into spheres such as travel clinics. 

The road to becoming a pharmacist involves a degree in pharmacy, which is typically accredited by the country’s pharmacy council. How long it takes to become a pharmacist varies across countries, but it generally involves at least four years of studying, plus another year’s vocational experience before qualifying.

To get on to a pharmacy course, candidates are expected to achieve very high grades in secondary education. It is also beneficial to get some work experience, potentially as a pharmacy assistant, while learning, as is doing some supplementary courses to increase pharmacy insight. 

Pharmacists working in a store will have mainly 9-5 hours, with some weekend work. Those based in other settings may need to work evenings and weekends.

What degree is most commonly held by a Pharmacist?

  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
  • Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm.)
  • Master of Pharmacy

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Low
Pharmacists are trained in the medicine, medical laws and health services of their country, so it is very difficult for someone of this profession to work overseas. Re-training is sometimes an option, but the candidate must also take into account any cultural and language difficulties, as they will be facing the public every day.

What is the Salary of a Pharmacist?

Experience Average salary | year
Pharmacist $56,502 £38,832 $69,990
Pharmacist Manager $70,637 £48,546 $87,500
Director (Pharmacy) $100,911 £69,352 $125,000

What skills are needed to become a Pharmacist?

  • Pharmacy
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmacists
  • Medication Therapy Management
  • Community Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Clinical Pharmacy
  • Patient Counseling
  • Customer Service
  • Clinical Research
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacy Automation
  • Pharmacy Practice
  • Diabetes
  • Microsoft Office
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Pharmacology
  • Patient Safety
  • Compounding
  • Healthcare Management
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Medicine
  • Microsoft Excel

Pharmacy Courses

Candidates who are just starting to learn how to become a pharmacist and professionals already on the career ladder alike could benefit from some supplementary pharmacy courses. At FutureLearn, we offer general medicine courses as well as a course about good pharmacy practice.
  • Essentials of Good Pharmacy Practice: The Basics

    Discover the essentials of the Good Pharmacy Practice GPP guidelines and learn how they support better pharmaceutical services

  • Evidence-Based Medicine in Clinical Pharmacy Practice

    Interpret medical literature through the principles of evidence-based medicine and apply them in clinical practice

  • Become a Pharmacy Preceptor

    Learn how to become an effective pharmacy preceptor exploring the qualities a great preceptor needs

  • Clinical Pharmacokinetics: Dosing and Monitoring

    Understanding pharmacokinetics from basic principles to clinical applications

  • The Science of Medicines

    Learn the science behind how and why medicines work and what can improve patient's treatment with this online course

  • Pharmacokinetics: Drug Dosing in Renal Disease

    Build clinical pharmacy skills and explore the complexities of drug dosing in renal disease with this pharmacokinetics course

  • Good Brain, Bad Brain: Drug Origins

    Explore our past present and future understanding of drugs with this online course Where do drugs come from How do they work

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

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