Education needed to become a pharmacist

Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals. If you’re thinking about pharmacy as a career, the first thing you’ll want to know is what qualifications you will need. The answer is—a lot! Here’s what it takes.

At school

First, make sure you get good GCSE grades in two or three sciences, maths and English. Then, at A-level, stick with the sciences. To study pharmacy at university you will definitely need chemistry, and almost certainly biology, plus either maths or physics. And your grades must be good, too—most universities require As and Bs.

At university

And now the hard work begins. You will be studying for a Master’s degree (MPharm), which takes four years. This is where you really start to become an expert, as you learn about pharmacology, microbiology, patient care, law and ethics, drug development and various other specialisms. Your course will include a large amount of practical work as well as lectures and tutorials, and you may also spend time on a work placement.

After university

It’s not over yet! You won’t be a fully qualified pharmacist until you have done a further year’s approved workplace training, and passed another exam at the end of it. And even that’s not all—once you have qualified, and registered, you will be required to keep yourself continually up to date with new developments in your field. This is called Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and its purpose is to keep you working safely and effectively throughout your career.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is! But your reward will be a fulfilling and worthwhile career in healthcare or research or industry—the choice is yours!

Find out more about studying pharmacy at UCAS and the National Careers Service.