Science, mathematics and statistics

Career outlook for pharmacologist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would do research to discover and develop new drugs and medicines, and to make sure they are used safely.

You’d study the effects of drugs and other chemical substances on cells, animals, humans and the environment. You would work in a research team with scientists and other staff.

You might specialise in:

  • Clinical pharmacology, looking at the effects of medicine on people in clinical trials
  • Neuropharmacology, examining the effects of drugs on the nervous system

You would:

  • Design, set up and carry out experiments
  • Analyse data using complex equipment and measuring systems
  • Test drugs on cells in labs and through clinical trials on humans
  • Write reports and make recommendations based on the results of experiments and research
  • Use the results of research to develop new products and manufacturing processes
  • Study the unwanted or harmful effects of drugs
  • Test the safety of manufactured products

Some of your duties may involve animal research.

You would share the results of your work with colleagues, for example by presenting at meetings and conferences, and publishing reports.

You might also supervise support staff and manage and co-ordinate projects.

Working conditions


As a full-time pharmacologist, you will usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You will occasionally be involved in experiments or clinical trials that mean working longer hours


If you are based in a university or work as a researcher in industry, you will regularly work extra hours. You will wear protective clothing to prevent cross contamination. A lot of your time will be spent in a laboratory.


You may need to travel if you are carrying out fieldwork or attending scientific meetings and conferences.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Supporting
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Problem solving
  • Social conscience
  • Attention to detail
  • Implementing ideas
  • Taking responsibility
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in pharmacology. Other degrees such as biological sciences, biomedical science, immunology, medicinal chemistry or pharmacy might also be accepted by some employers. 

Most undergraduate courses ask for at least four Highers at B or above (SCQF level 6) some universities may require AABB (first sitting) for entry.

The University of Dundee offers a BSc Life Sciences course with only requires two Highers at B including Biology or Chemistry and one other subject; this course has been developed for those with high academic potential who experienced disadvantage.

Many people who do this job also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Science (MSc) (SCQF level 11) or a doctoral degree (SCQF level 12) in a relevant subject. 

There would also be a chance that you could work towards this position from related positions such as a Laboratory technician although this would be much less common. 

Useful subjects

  • Biology (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Chemistry
  • English