Careers for pharmacists

This fact sheet would be useful for pharmacists who are looking for an alternative career, either within the pharmaceutical environment or in non-pharmacy-related work. Pharmacists might also find our Working abroad fact sheet useful.

Contents

Employment advice

Careers advice

Changing sector

Roles for pharmacists by sector

Alternative careers for pharmacists

Other useful organisations for alternative careers

Employment advice from Pharmacist Support

At Pharmacist Support we receive a number of enquiries from pharmacists who are considering leaving pharmacy. This decision can often be influenced by dissatisfaction with your current role and/or situation.

Pharmacists who feel that they would like to continue in their present employment if issues were resolved might benefit from seeking employment advice.

Pharmacists with queries about their terms and conditions at work can contact Pharmacist Support for further advice. We may be able to help by referring pharmacists to a specialist Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) adviser. Pharmacists who would like to be referred can contact us on our general enquiry line: 0808 168 2233, or email us on:info@pharmacistsupport.org or alternatively ask us a question via live chat.

Employment advice from a trade union

A trade union is an organisation made up of members, and the main aim of a trade union is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the workplace. Pharmacists might want to consider joining a trade union as membership can give access not just to employment advice, but also help to defend a pharmacist’s professional reputation and provide professional indemnity insurance.

There are two trade unions that are specifically for pharmacy. These are the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP).

For further information about what the PDA can offer, visit the PDA website.

The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists is part of the Unite union. For further information, see the Unite website.

Careers advice

Pharmacists may find it helpful to speak to a careers adviser to talk them through the possible options, taking into account any relevant skills, knowledge, experience and interests.  We have listed here a number of professional services and dedicated websites that can help pharmacists to make decisions about their career.

National Careers Service

The government’s National Careers Service offers help with identifying options, key strengths and skills, putting together a CV, possible funding and developing an action plan. There are also over 700 different job profiles giving information about the roles, entry requirements, skills and knowledge required and any training and development needed.

There are a number of ways in which pharmacists can speak to a careers adviser such as by phone on:0800 100 900, webchat via the website or by booking an appointment at a National Careers Service office. To find out other ways of using the service, please visit their website.

The Career Development Institute (CDI)

The CDI is the professional organisation for all practitioners working in the Career Development sector in the UK. There is a search facility on their website to find a careers adviser in your area but do note that the advisers will charge for their services.

Pharmacist Support – careers coaching programme

This programme provides one-to-one sessions with a careers coach. This is complemented by an on-line service offering a variety of tools and resources through a bespoke career management platform. This package includes webinars and e-workshops; guidance includes interview techniques, updating CVs, transferable skills and identifying suitable careers.

Pharmacists who may find this helpful can contact Pharmacist Support for further information on our enquiry line at 0808 168 2233, by emailing us at info@pharmacistsupport.org or alternatively ask us a question via live chat.

Please note, places on this programme are limited.

Change of sector

Some pharmacists may find that whilst they enjoy being a pharmacist, the sector that they are working in no longs holds any appeal for them. In these instances, pharmacists might want to have a look at other sectors to see if there is something amongst them that might be of interest.

For pharmacists who identify a sector to which they would like to switch, for example, moving from community pharmacy to working in a GP surgery, but are not sure where to begin, help is at hand.

Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) Coaching Support Service

Pharmacists who have a specific work-related goal may find the CPPE coaching support service helpful. The coaching service is available to all registered pharmacists working in the NHS in England. The aim of the service is to provide a supportive framework for a specific goal which empowers individuals to find their own path and solutions.

Pharmacists should note that the CPPE can only provide this service to pharmacists who are looking to remain within the NHS, for example, pharmacists who want to switch from community to GP practice. Pharmacists looking to leave the NHS, for example switching from community to industry, will not be able to access this service.

For further information about the CPPE coaching support service, see the CPPE website.

Academic pharmacist

Higher education (HE) lecturers are involved in the teaching and training of future generations of pharmacists. As well as teaching, academics might also be involved in research. Research may include areas such as new medicines discovery, improvements in pharmacy practice and the enhancement of health outcomes for patients. It is not always easy to secure a full time role as a lecturer and many pharmacists combine a career in academia with work within another pharmaceutical sector, such as hospital or community.

Qualifications needed

Ordinarily lecturers will need a first or a 2:1 in the MPharm plus a PhD in a related area, for example a professional doctorate in pharmacy or pharmacy and biomedical science. A separate teaching qualification is not essential and most post-graduate students gain teaching experience whilst undertaking their PhD. For a full list of PhD opportunities in pharmacy, see the StudyPortal website.

Career progression

Lecturers can go on to become senior lecturers, readers or professors. Other options include becoming an examiner or writing textbooks and/or online resources for students.

Other useful information

The Association of Commonwealth Universities

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is an international university network that lists many of the HE opportunities available throughout the world. For further information, see the ACU website.

Job sites

Unijobs

Unijobs is a search engine for academic roles in universities throughout the world. For further information, see the Unijobs website.

Care home pharmacist

Care home pharmacists can work in one or more care homes. Pharmacists should expect to undertake regular medicine usage reviews and also help patients to manage their medicines effectively.

Qualifications needed

Pharmacists who want to work in care homes will need excellent consultation skills as they will be liaising with patients and other healthcare professionals to ensure optimum medication delivery.

Career progression

Pharmacists in care homes can opt to become independent prescribers. Pharmacists can also undertake training in areas that are common amongst patients in care homes such as dementia, nutrition and hydration and end of life care.

Other useful information

Consultation skills for pharmacy practice

The Consultation skills for pharmacy practice website has been developed to support pharmacists who wish to develop their consultation skills. For further information, see the Consultations skills for pharmacy practice website.

GPhC commissioned report on pharmacy and care homes

In 2015 the GPhC commissioned a report on pharmacy and care homes. Pharmacists can access Jo Weber’s report in pdf format here.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society guide for pharmacists working in care homes.

The RPS has produced a comprehensive guide suitable for pharmacists who are interested in, or are already working in care homes. This offers guidance on all aspects of working in a care home including polypharmacy, ethics, consultation skills and working within the Mental Capacity Act. To view the guide, see the RPS website.

The National Care Forum (NCF)

The NCF promote quality care through the not for profit sector. Pharmacists can use the NCF to connect with other health care professionals and also take advantage of free resources including risk assessment tools for medication and a framework for the best use of medicines across all care settings. For further information, see the NCF website.

Job sites

There is no specific job site for pharmacists working in care homes. Pharmacists could look at any of the following websites:

C+D job vacancies

NHS job vacancies

Pharmaceutical Journal job vacancies

Pharmacists might also want to contact their local clinical commissioning group and local GP surgeries to see if they are looking for pharmacists to assist in care home settings.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) pharmacist specialists 

The CQC are the independent regulator of health and social care in England. Pharmacists who work for the CQC will provide specialist advice and expert knowledge to support the CQC as they carry out their inspections.

Career progression

There are opportunities to specialise in particular aspects of health and social care, for example, inspecting hospitals, care homes or GP surgeries. Pharmacists can go on to offer their services as consultants giving advice on how to meet the CQC criteria.

Other useful information

CQC role description for pharmacist specialists

For further details about the type of people that the CQC is looking for, see the CQC website.

Job sites

Jobs at CQC

For further information on vacancies at the CQC, including job descriptions, see the CQC website. Pharmacists can also register their interest with the CQC in order to be notified of any future vacancies.

Clinical academic pharmacist

Clinical academic pharmacists work in a traditional clinical setting, for example, hospital or community pharmacy, however, they will combine this with a role in research. The type of research undertaken will ordinarily be related to pharmacy practice and patient care.

Qualifications needed

The qualifications needed will vary according to the level of research undertaken. For example, research at a post doctoral level will require a PhD. All pharmacists undertaking clinical academic research will require the support of both clinical and academic host organisations. Pharmacists can also look at less formal training opportunities, for example internships, to see if research is the right choice for them. Pharmacists with no research experience might want to consider taking a Masters of Research (MRes).

Career progression

Successful clinical academics will have opportunities to publish work and shape the future of healthcare. Clinical academic pharmacists can go on to senior academic posts, including professorships.

Other useful information   

HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme

The Health Education England (HEE) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme provides personal research training awards for healthcare professionals who wish to develop their clinical academic career.  For further information, see the National Institute for Health Research website.

NHS building a research career guide

The National Institute for Health Research has published a guide for aspiring clinical academics. To access the guide, click here.

Health Education England (HEE) clinical academic careers resources and support

HEE has produced a number of resources for clinical academics including handbooks, webinars and a communications toolkit for research. For further information, see the HEE website.

Master of Research (MRes) degree 

The MRes is an advanced postgraduate degree. It is awarded in a specific academic discipline and is especially focused on preparing students for doctoral research. For further information, see the Masters Portal website.

Job sites

There is no specific job site for pharmacists working in clinical academia. Pharmacists could look at any of the following websites:

C+D job vacancies

NHS job vacancies

Pharmaceutical Journal job vacancies

Community pharmacist

Community pharmacists are responsible for dispensing and distributing medicine. This is a patient facing role and a community pharmacist will also provide health information and advice and instruct patients on the use of medicines and medical appliances.

Qualifications needed

Once registered with the GPhC, community pharmacists can begin work right away. There are many enhanced services that pharmacists can provide, and most employers will now expect pharmacists to provide certain services such as medicines usage reviews (MUR) and the new medicine service (NMS) as standard.

There is also an increasing range of services that community pharmacists can provide, these include:-

  • flu vaccinations
  • stop smoking service
  • weight management service
  • travel clinics.

For further information about training providers for enhanced services, see our Preparing to work in Great Britain fact sheet.

Career progression

Community pharmacists can progress into management. Large multiples offer career opportunities at both branch and area manager level. Some pharmacists go on to own their own business and others might opt to become independent prescribers.

Other useful information

Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE)

The CPPE offers a range of learning opportunities to pharmacists. These range from face-to-face events through to on-line and distance learning programmes. For further information, see the CPPE website.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

NES offers a range of learning opportunities to pharmacists. These include webcasts, webinars and guidance documents. For further information, see the NES website.

Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE)

The WCPPE offers a range of learning opportunities to pharmacists. These include a range of distance learning packs and e-learning resources. For further information, see the WCPPE website.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC)

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) promotes and supports the interests of all community pharmacies in England. It also negotiates the contractual terms for the provision of NHS community pharmacy services. For further information, including medicine updates and health and care reviews, see the PSNC website.

Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW)

Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) represents community pharmacy in Wales. At the moment most of the English national pharmacy contract negotiated by the PSNC is adopted by the Welsh Assembly Government, but where the contract does differ the CPW negotiates on behalf of community pharmacy. For further information, see the CPW website.

Job sites

There are numerous job sites available for pharmacists looking for work in community settings. For further information, see our Job vacancy sites fact sheet.

Cosmetic pharmacist

The demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures has never been higher and pharmacists looking to work in cosmetics can expect to provide services such as lip augmentation, dermal fillers and platelet rich plasma fillers.

Qualifications needed

At the moment there is no mandatory regulation of the non-surgical cosmetic industry, however, pharmacists will need to undertake a course before offering these services. There are numerous organisations offering courses and pharmacists should choose carefully. Opting for the shortest, or the cheapest course is not always the best option.

Pharmacists offering non-surgical cosmetic services will also need to ensure they have adequate personal indemnity insurance. Given that pharmacists will have to work with a prescriber, an independent prescribing qualification is a useful addition.

Career progression

The vast majority of non-surgical cosmetic pharmacists work in private clinics. Pharmacists can go on to own or manage a private clinic.

Other useful information

Harley Academy

The Harley Academy offers a fully Ofqual-regulated and IQ-accredited level 7 qualification in aesthetics which includes a full level 7 certificate in injectables. These qualifications are based specifically on Health Education England guidelines. For further information, see the Harley Academy website.

Job sites

There is no specific job site for pharmacists working in cosmetics. Pharmacists could look at any of the following job search engines:

Adzuna

Flame Health

Indeed

Jobrapido

Trovit

GP practice pharmacist

GP practice pharmacists consult and treat patients directly. They will also be involved in reviewing patients’ medicines and helping patients to make the best use of their medicines.
Qualifications needed

Ordinarily, pharmacists will need to demonstrate their experience as a pharmacist and how this can be transferred to a GP practice setting. Pharmacists will also require an independent prescriber’s qualification or need to demonstrate a willingness to undertake an independent prescriber’s course.

Career progression    

GP practice pharmacists can progress to managing a pharmacy team, or use their knowledge to progress to other primary care sectors, for example, working in a clinical commissioning group.

Other useful information

 CPPE GP pharmacist training pathway

The CPPE offers a national training pathway for pharmacists who work in, or would like to work in a GP practice. For further information see the CPPE website.

RPS guide for GP pharmacists

The RPS has published a comprehensive guide for GP pharmacists. This includes areas such as clinical guidance as well as support tools. For further information, see the RPS website.

Job sites

Many GPs advertise their vacancies on the NHS Jobs website. For further information, including how to make a successful application and tips for attending interviews, see the NHS Jobs website.

Hospital pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists use their knowledge of medicines to help to care for patients. Hospital pharmacists are also involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available. Hospital pharmacists will work as part of a health- care team and may also assist with the supervision of pharmacy technicians and assistants.

Qualifications needed

To begin as a band 6 pharmacist the NHS requirements are registration with the GPhC and also for pharmacists to show how NHS values apply to their everyday life. For more senior positions, pharmacists will have to demonstrate relevant experience and/or additional study. For further information on NHS values, see the NHS Health careers website.

Career progression

Hospital pharmacists can choose to specialise in a particular area, for example, mental health or paediatrics. It is also possible to move into management or teaching roles within a hospital setting.

Other useful information

CPPE hospital pharmacy

The CPPE offers a range of programmes for hospital teams. They are specifically aimed at advancing knowledge and skills. For further information, see the CPPE website.

Job sites

Most trusts advertise their vacancies on the NHS Jobs website. For further information, including how to make a successful application and managing interviews, see the NHS Jobs website.

Independent prescriber pharmacist

Independent prescribers (IP) can prescribe autonomously for any condition within their area of clinical competence.

Qualifications needed

In order to become an IP, pharmacists must complete a GPhC accredited independent prescribing programme. Courses typically run for six months and are normally delivered through a combination of face-to-face teaching sessions and self-directed study. Some universities offer a programme with a larger distance learning option, however, all programmes will involve a minimum of 26 days of teaching and learning activities.

In order to take the course pharmacists must be registered with the GPhC and have a least two years of experience working as a pharmacist  in a hospital, community or primary care setting. Pharmacists should note that pre-registration training does not count towards this work experience. Pharmacists will also need:-

  • a designated medical practitioner (DMP) who will take responsibility for supporting and supervising on the job training. Pharmacists should check with each course provider to see how many hours of training with the DMP will be required. The DMP for a pharmacist must be a GP
  • a letter of approval from their employer supporting their study
  • a clinical diploma. Many courses will state that this is either desirable or essential, and pharmacists should check with individual course providers for confirmation of this.

The IP courses are extremely popular and pharmacists will need to demonstrate that they will put their new skills to good use, for example, running clinics in community settings for specific medical conditions, in order to secure a place on an IP course.

Career progression

Pharmacist prescribing is now well established in a range of sectors and clinical disciplines. Pharmacists who want to work in a GP practice will find that independent prescribing is a key part of the role.

Other useful information

CPPE return to prescribing study days

The CPPE offers return to prescribing study days for any pharmacists who are qualified independent prescribers but are not currently prescribing. For further information, see the CPPE website.

GPhC prescribers survey report

The GPhC sent a survey to all pharmacist prescribers on the register in 2016. The analysis of the responses received can be viewed in the GPhC report.

GPhC accredited independent prescribing programmes

Many universities offer an accredited independent prescriber programme. For a full list of GPhC approved programmes, see the GPhC website.

RPS competency framework for all prescribers

Health Education England asked the RPS to manage the update of the prescribers framework on behalf of all prescribing professions in the UK. The RPS will continue to maintain and update the framework. Pharmacists can access the framework via the RPS website.

Job sites

There is no specific job site for pharmacists working as independent prescribers. Pharmacists could look at any of the following websites:

C+D job vacancies

NHS job vacancies

Pharmaceutical Journal job vacancies

Pharmacists can also have a look at our Job vacancy sites fact sheet.
<h3id=”LINK10″>Industrial pharmacist

Pharmacists are employed in many different aspects of the pharmaceutical industry. These include:-

  • research
  • development
  • clinical trials
  • quality assurance
  • production
  • regulatory affairs and product registration
  • information.

Qualifications needed

The practical scientific skills pharmacists acquire during the  MPharm degree are transferable to laboratories in an industrial setting. However pharmacists may want to consider further training to enhance their career. For example, pharmacists who wish to move into quality assurance might want to train as a Qualified Person (QP) in order to sign off medications, and pharmacists who are interested in research will find that many research-based masters degrees will include the opportunity to carry out research in industry.

Career progression

The opportunity to develop both knowledge and skills is good in industry.  Innovations in genomics, healthcare data and advanced therapies offer a wealth of career opportunities to pharmacists. Industrial pharmacists can become a Qualified Person. QPs take legal responsibility for certifying batches of medicine prior to release. For further information, see the ABPI Careers website.

Other useful information

ABPI Careers

The ABPI Careers website contains lots of useful information about working in industry. For further information on the various career options and how to get into industry, see the ABPI Careers website.

Job sites

Here are the links to the main industry employers:

Astrazeneca

GSK

MSD

Pfizer

Military pharmacist

There is a wide network of pharmacists in the military. The role is a diverse one. Pharmacists provide support and advice on all pharmaceutical matters including storage, distribution, security and dispensing and supply of drugs. Pharmacists can find themselves, for example, working in a field hospital in a war zone or in the UK in medical logistics.

Qualifications needed

The only qualification required is registration with the GPhC. Other desirable qualities include an  interest in helping people, decision making, and leading and managing people.

Career progression

Pharmacists in the military manage more than just medicine and equipment, they also manage the soldiers, sailors or air force men and women under their command. The military encourage career progression and even if this is not a career for life, pharmacists who work in the armed forces will develop significant management and prescribing skills.

Job sites

Royal Army Medical Corps

For further information about working in the army, see the Royal Army Medical Corps website.

Royal Navy Medical Branch

For further information about working in the navy, see the Royal Navy Medical Branch website.

Royal Air Force Medical Services 

For further information about working in the air force, see the Royal Air Force Medical Services website.

Regulatory affairs pharmacist

Regulatory affairs pharmacists are involved in the regulatory processes that are designed to protect the public by ensuring that all new medicines are safe and effective. They can work in the pharmaceutical industry or for one of the Regulatory Affairs Authorities.

Qualifications needed   

Pharmacists can undertake postgraduate study in regulatory affairs. This includes studying for a  postgraduate diploma or certificate, or a Masters degree. Here are The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs (TOPRA) top tips for those just starting out in a career in regulatory affairs:-

  • be prepared to take another role in the drug development process as a stepping stone
  • review your CV for skills and experience that would be particularly transferable, for example, good communication, project management and the ability to synthesise information
  • enrol with a specialist regulatory recruitment consultant who can advise you.

Career progression

With the right skills and experience, pharmacists in regulatory affairs can move into management or opt to specialise as a consultant.

Other useful information

Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) 

The Heads of Medicines Agencies is a network of the heads of the National Competent Authorities (NCA) whose organisations are responsible for the regulation of medicinal products for human and veterinary use in the European Economic Area. For further information, see the HMA website.

The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs (TOPRA)

TOPRA is the professional membership organisation for individuals working in healthcare regulatory affairs. For information about starting out and developing a career in regulatory affairs, see the TOPRA website.

Job sites

Pharmacists can look at any of the industrial employers, as many of these also offer work in regulation, and any of the regulatory industries. Pharmacists can also look at the following websites:

European Medicines Agency 

General Pharmaceutical Council

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Secure environments pharmacist

Pharmacists who work in secure environments provide health care in a number of settings including prisons, immigration removal centres and secure children’s homes. Pharmacists should expect to undergo stringent security checks before being cleared to work in a secure environment. For example, pharmacists who want to work within a prison or with the police will need an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check as well as additional vetting by the prison service or police force.

Qualifications needed

In addition to being a registered pharmacist, pharmacists may need to demonstrate knowledge or experience of the criminal justice system and/or custodial environments. Whilst some services will be the same as those offered in community pharmacy, for example, smoking cessation and medicine management, pharmacists should also demonstrate an interest in or experience of topics such as mental health problems and substance misuse.

Career progression

Given that there is often a much greater focus on mental health problems and substance misuse, secure environment pharmacists can go on to specialise in these areas.  Some pharmacists opt to undertake a joint appointment between a secure environment and another area of NHS practice, for example, hospital. Skills that are learned in one sector can then lead to career progression in another.

Other useful information

Secure Environments Pharmacy Group (SEPG)

The Secure Environments Pharmacy Group is a network of clinicians (mainly pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) working in secure environments. For further information, see the SEPG website.

CPPE: Providing pharmacy services for secure environments e-course

This e-learning course aims to enable pharmacists to offer a safe and effective pharmacy service for people in secure environments. For further information, see the CPPE website.

RPS Professional standards for optimising medicines for people in secure environments

The RPS has published standards for optimising medicines for people in secure environments. To access the documents, see the RPS website.

Job sites 

Medacy Secure

Medacy are a provider of locum healthcare professionals to secure establishments in the UK. For further information, see the Medacy Secure website.

NHS jobs

Pharmacists can also find jobs in secure establishments on the NHS jobs website.

Sanctuary Criminal Justice

Sanctuary Criminal Justice are experts in recruitment for locum offender health pharmacy posts. For further information, including details of vacancies, see the Sanctuary Criminal Justice website.

Urgent and emergency care pharmacist

Pharmacists who work in urgent and emergency care can work in a variety of different settings. These include:-

  • hospital emergency departments
  • NHS 111 service
  • GP out of hours services.

Qualifications needed

Key skills for pharmacists in urgent and emergency care settings are clinical examination and assessment, diagnostic skills and medical management and treatment. Several higher education providers offer programmes in advanced clinical skills. An independent prescriber qualification will also be useful.

Career progression

Urgent and emergency care pharmacists can choose to specialise in a particular acute or emergency area, for example, neonatal intensive care. It is also possible to move into management or teaching roles within a hospital setting.

Other useful information

RPS guide for pharmacists working in urgent and emergency care

The RPS has produced a detailed guide for pharmacists who work in or are considering working in urgent and emergency care. To view the guide, see the RPS website.

CPPE advanced training in assessment and management of urgent cases

This training programme is currently only available to pharmacists who have a patient-facing role in community pharmacy within the North West. This course will help pharmacists to further develop their diagnostic skills and enable them to provide other medicines under patient group directions. For further information, see the CPPE website.

PGCert Advanced specialist training in emergency medicine

This post-graduate course will allow pharmacists to develop their skills in learning how to assess and manage emergency department patients. This course also includes a GPhC accredited Independent Prescriber course. For further information about this course, see the University of Manchester website.

Pharmacist Support are not aware of any other providers of this particular postgraduate certificate.

UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA)

The UKCPA is the UK’s largest clinical pharmacy community.  Their services include networking, discusion forums and practitioner-led education and training. For further information, see the UKCPA website.

Job sites

NHS jobs

All hospital vacancies are advertised on the NHS jobs website.
<h3id=”LINK15″>Veterinary pharmacist

Veterinary pharmacists dispense medications that have been prescribed by a veterinarian. They also provide consultations on dosages and side effects.

Qualifications needed

GPhC registered pharmacists are able to dispense veterinary prescriptions and sell veterinary products, however, an additional qualification would enable pharmacists to further develop their knowledge of animal welfare. For further information on RPS approved veterinary pharmacy courses, see the Harper Adams University website.

Career progression

Veterinary pharmacists can choose to specialise in companion or large animal welfare. They can also go on to work for government agencies such as the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Veterinary Products Committee. Alternatively, veterinary pharmacists can go on to work in the sales and supply sector of animal medicine or opt for a role as an academic veterinary pharmacist.

Other useful information

Veterinary medicines advice for pharmacists

The government has produced an information leaflet containing veterinary medicines advice for pharmacists. To view the leaflet, see the government website.

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) protects animal health, public health and the environment. For further information, see the VMD website.

The Veterinary Products Committee 

The Veterinary Products Committee (VMP) advises Defra on veterinary medicinal products and animal feed additives. For further information, see the VPC website.

Job sites

Vet Times Jobs

Pharmacists can find careers advice and job vacancies on the Vet Times Jobs website.
<h3id=”LINK16″>NHS careers

Lots of people still wish to remain in healthcare, for example, studying to become a dietitian or a physiotherapist. Having a first degree in science can lead to compressed study courses, such as a shortened postgraduate programme in dietetics.

The NHS careers website gives information on a range of career options within the NHS. Pharmacists can search the site by career, for example, healthcare science (which includes pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) or by group, for example, recent graduates. There is also a careers A-Z where people can search for a particular role and see information on it including an introduction to the role, entry requirements, training and career development plus where to look for vacancies.

For further information on the various career options available within the NHS, see the NHS Health Careers website.

NHS Physician Associate

A new opportunity has arisen within the NHS for physician associates. Physician associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. Physician associates might work in a GP surgery or be based in a hospital, but wherever a physician associate does work, they will have direct contact with patients.

Pharmacists will need to undertake post-graduate training in order to qualify as a physician associate.  The MPharm fulfils the entry requirements for  post-graduate training to become a physician associate.  The training will also involve working under the supervision of a doctor and day-to-day tasks will include:

  • taking medical histories
  • diagnosing illnesses
  • analysing test results
  • performing examinations
  • developing management plans.

For further information about becoming a physician associate, see the NHS website.

Pharmacists might also want to take a look at the NHS infogram that sets out the role of the physician associate.

The post-graduate degree and/or diploma in physician associate studies is available at a wide range of universities throughout the country. Pharmacists can search for universities offering this degree and/or diploma with the NHS course finder.

Pharmacists who are interested in training to become a physician associate should contact individual universities with any queries about course fees and eligibility for NHS funding.

Careers in Industry

There are many pharmaceutical companies in the UK, all of whom offer a range of employment opportunities. Pharmacists can opt to work as a pharmacist in industry or they can opt for a role that does not require registration with the GPhC.  Here is a list of some of the main pharmaceutical companies for people who are interested in working in industry:

Pharmacists can see the ABPI member list for further details of pharmaceutical industry organisations.

There are numerous career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, ranging from technical scientific jobs to commercial roles in sales and marketing. For further information on the wide range of opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry, see the ABPI website.

Careers in regulatory affairs

Regulatory professionals are responsible for all the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of pharmaceutical and medical products. Although not essential, it could be advantageous to have an additional qualification, such as the MSc in Regulatory Affairs to help further a career in regulation.

Here are The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs (TOPRA) top tips for those just starting out in a career in regulatory affairs:-

  • be prepared to take another role in the drug development process as a stepping stone
  • review your CV for skills and experience that would be particularly transferable, for example, good communication, project management and the ability to synthesise information
  • enrol with a specialist regulatory recruitment consultant who can advise you about job opportunities.

TOPRA also runs an online one-day Basics of Regulatory Affairs course aimed at those who are interested in getting into the profession. They also have comprehensive guidance for anybody who is interested in a career in regulatory affairs.

For further information, see the careers section of the TOPRA website.

Scientific or Medical Writer

There are a number of opportunities available to pharmacists with an interest in scientific or medical writing. These include communications and journalism. Below we have a look at some of the career options in scientific and medical writing.

Medical/pharmaceutical journalist

There are a range of opportunities in press, radio, television and on-line journalism. Journalists will need to write quickly and clearly and will also need to be able to adapt their style to suit a variety of publications and audiences.

There are any number of post-graduate options available to anybody with an interest in a career in journalism. For further information about the study options available in the UK, see the Postgraduate Search website.

There are a number of organisations that could prove helpful for pharmacists who want to progress in journalism. Below is a list of suggestions for organisations that might be of interest.

National Council for the Training of Journalists

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) website has a range of helpful guides and tips about making a start in journalism. The NCTJ also offers a selection of courses, including on-line and bespoke courses. For further information, see the NCTJ website.

The Medical Journalists’ Association

The Medical Journalists’ Association (MJA) membership covers a range of healthcare professional journalists, this includes pharmaceutical journalists.  Membership of the MJA offers a range of opportunities including, network, training and career development and access to useful resources. For further information, see the MJA website.

Medical and/or Scientific Proofreader

There are no set requirements, however, employers will expect proofreaders to have a degree in a relevant subject. Proofreaders will also need to demonstrate skills such as attention to detail, the ability to concentrate for long periods and an excellent grasp of language.

There is also the possibility for proofreaders to work on a freelance basis from home. There are several organisations that would be of interest to people who want to learn more about proofreading and the publishing industry in general. Please see below for the list.

Society for Editors and Proof-readers (SfEP)

The SfEP is a professional society for self-employed and employed copy editors and proof readers. For those who are considering a career in scientific/medical proof writing they offer training and professional qualifications. For further details, see the SfEP website.

Women in Publishing

Women in Publishing works to promote the status of women working in publishing and related trades by helping them to develop their career. They offer opportunities for women to learn more about their area of work, share information and expertise and to participate in practical training for both career and personal development. For further details, see the Women in Publishing website.

Medical Communications

The pharmaceutical industry employs a whole range of people to help them to promote their products. People wishing to go into a career in medical communications will be involved in the education of stakeholders such as doctors, patients, nurses and hospital managers about innovations in healthcare. Specialist areas include:-

  • regulatory affairs
  • health economics
  • public relations
  • medical education
  • advertising and branding.

An organisation such as Medcomms Networking can offer further guidance to those who are interested in a career in communication. Medcomms Networking is a global initiative that facilitates networking and dialogue amongst individuals working in and around the pharmaceutical industry and medical communication.

For further information about starting out, including a downloadable PDF guide, see the MedComms Networking website.

There are a number of other organisations that might prove useful to those who are looking to start out in medical communications. See below for some suggestions.

Medical Affairs Professional Society

The Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS) provides a range of educational and information resources. Members also benefit from training and networking opportunities and will be able to attend MAPS events. For further information, see the MAPS website.

Pharmaceutical Marketing Society

The Pharmaceutical Marketing Society (PM Society) promotes marketing excellence throughout the healthcare and life science industries. Membership benefits include access to training modules and access to a growing network of healthcare professionals. For further information, see the PM Society website.

Pharmacy technicians

Pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and there are specific GPhC requirements. Further details about the requirements can be found on the pharmacy technician section of the GPhC website.

Graduates might also want to take a look at the Pharmacy technicians fact sheet on the CPPE website.

There are a number of organisations that can provide further information on training and working as a pharmacy technician. See below for a list of suggestions.

Association of Pharmacy Technicians

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) is the professional leadership body for registered pharmacy technicians working in the UK. For further information, including advice about continuing professional development, education and indemnity insurance, see the APTUK website.

Buttercups Training

Buttercups offer a range of training opportunities. This includes the Advanced Apprenticeship In Pharmacy, which allows candidates with the relevant experience to join the register as a pharmacy technician. For further details, see the Buttercups Training website.

National Pharmacy Association

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) offers a range of courses for people who are interested in training as a pharmacy technician. These include a course in Accuracy in Dispenser, with enables pharmacy technicians to carry out the final accuracy check on prescriptions. For further information, see the NPA website.

Working in education

Science is a priority subject in schools but there is currently a shortage of science teachers and graduates who choose teaching may be entitled to a bursary while training. Teachers need to be professionally qualified and in order to teach graduates will need to undertake a year of training, for example, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education ((PGCE) and an initial teaching year.

Alternatively there is also the Graduate Teacher Programme which allows people to work in a paid teaching role and train at the same time. See the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDAS) website for the various training options and funding available.

Teach First gives graduates the opportunity to teach for two years in challenging schools, after which people can opt to stay in teaching or move on to other roles. For further information, see the Teach First website.

Further Education (16-19 years)

The Further Education (FE) sector is one of the widest educational fields in the UK. There are a variety of settings to choose from including:-

  • work based learning – teaching skills in the workplace
  • adult and community learning – delivering courses based mainly in community
  • justice sector – delivering courses to people who are in prison
  • further education colleges – teaching in colleges.

Incentives for people considering going into teaching at FE level include bursaries of up to £25,000 for people who opt to teach English or Maths.

The teaching qualification needed for the FE sector is the level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) but if this qualification is undertaken at a university or even at some FE colleges it may be  called a PGCE or a Cert Ed.

For full details of the courses currently available and information about current bursaries, see the FE advice website.

People who are interested in training to become an FE teacher can also take a look at the UCAS website. Not all teacher training courses are listed on UCAS, however, it will give candidates an idea of what is available.

Career options: non-pharmacy-related work

Other work areas not specifically related to pharmacy but where the skills gained in your degree could be used might include:

  • computing
  • finance
  • accounting.

Large organisations such as the Civil Service (which is made up of government departments and agencies and non-departmental public bodies) recruit science graduates. Please see the recruitment section of the Civil Service for further information.

The Prospects website gives further information on a wide range of careers including job descriptions and entry requirements. Some of the options will require some further training.

It might also be helpful to talk to a careers adviser about options for other non-pharmacy graduate work. Please see the careers advice section above for a list of services.

Pharmacists might also want to have a look at our Career options for MPharm graduates fact sheet.