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Is pharmacy the right career for me?

Pharmacy is a science-based profession where you need to have an interest in chemistry, physiology and providing health care advice.

As a pharmacist you will need to be:

  • Caring
  • Good with people and able to motivate them
  • Able to work as part of multidisciplinary team as well as having the ability to use your initiative

What is a pharmacist?

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their uses. Their knowledge of how medicines work in the human body is essential to help people with every type of medical condition to stay healthy for longer.

What do pharmacists do?

Pharmacists help people to use their medicines safely. The pharmacist advises other health care professionals, like doctors and nurses, on how to choose the best medicines for individuals and how to prescribe and administer them to get the desired result.

Pharmacists are often trained to prescribe medicines and administer vaccinations independently of a doctor. They also provide many services designed to save people having to make a GP appointment. Pharmacists contribute and oversee other members of the pharmacy team who can dispense prescriptions and advise on over the counter medicine sales and healthy lifestyles.

Pharmacists work with a wide range of people to manage their conditions and maintain good health:

  • Children – common childhood illnesses -chicken pox, constipation, head lice
  • Long term medical conditions – asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes
  • Elderly – monitoring for side-effects and stopping medicines

Where do pharmacists work?

Training and working as a pharmacist offers you the opportunity to work in a number of settings, including:

  • Community Pharmacies
  • GP surgeries
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • NHS 111
  • Universities (research and academia)
  • Pharmaceutical Industry

What hours do pharmacists work?

Pharmacists typically work a standard week of 37.5 hours in the NHS. They usually have to work some early mornings, evenings, weekends and bank holidays on a rota basis. Some pharmacists provide on-call services to their hospital overnight. In other organisations, hours may vary. Many pharmacists choose to work part-time.

How much do pharmacists earn?

In NHS Wales, a pre-registration pharmacist starting salary is Band 5. The NHS salary for a newly registered pharmacist is Band 6; please see our Pay and Benefits section for more information.

Salaries in the private sector may vary but are usually similar to those in the NHS.

What career progression opportunities are available for pharmacists?

Pharmacy offers many different and flexible employment options. Once you’ve qualified and gained the appropriate clinical and financial experience you could become a:

  • Prescribing advisor in primary care
  • Prescriber in a GP practice
  • An independent pharmacy contractor with your own pharmacy
  • Service Manager in a hospital
  • A regional manager for a community pharmacy chain
  • Lecturer in a university
  • Consultant pharmacist in a clinical speciality

How do I become pharmacist?

Do I need a degree? Yes, if you want to work as a pharmacist you will need to complete a General Pharmaceutical Council approved MPharm course and a Pre-registration training year. A successful Pre-registration training year means your performance is signed off by your workplace tutor and you can sit the final registration assessment.  You can then join the professional register and begin to practice.
Where can I train in Wales? Visit the Pre-registration Education page to find out more.
Is there funding available? Yes, for further information about available funding and eligibility please visit Student Awards Services.
Do I need previous experience to apply for the course? Any experience in caring roles, both professionally and personally, will be an advantage. As will experience with public facing, team working or leadership roles.
How do I get experience?

To find out about work experience and volunteering opportunities in NHS Wales visit our Work section.

The Pharmacist support also has useful information about getting work experience.

How do I apply for a job?

All vacancies for NHS Wales are advertised on NHS Jobs. Visit our Work section for more information.

Pharmacy publications such as the Chemist and Druggist also have a job sections. The large pharmacy chains also advertise jobs through their own websites.

Useful links: