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Pharmacologists are scientists whose work focuses on drugs testing and research for medical purposes. Pharmacologists aim to understand how medicines and other drugs work, in order that they can be used safely and effectively. They also conduct vital research to aid drug development and to find new and better medicines.
The work of a pharmacologist involves investigating how drugs interact with biological systems. You could be conducting out in vitro research (using cells or animal tissues), or in vivo research (using whole animals) to identify the effect certain drugs may have on humans. 

Job Specification, Salary, Outlook 
Working hours are typically normal office hours, although you'll need to be available to monitor and manage ongoing experiments, which may include some weekend, evening or shift work. Most pharmacologists are employed by private or public pharmaceutical companies, where they’re involved in developing and discovering drugs, and conducting clinical trials. 

Other typical employers include:

  • Government laboratories
  • Environmental agencies
  • Clinical or contract research organisations (CROs)
  • Academic departments within universities, where research projects are often funded by charities or the government
  • Research institutes
  • NHS hospitals, where pharmacologists are employed to work on clinical trials 

So how much do pharmacologists earn? It depends on several factors, but the average salary for pharmacologists in the United States is $90,160. In the UK, the average salary for pharmacologists is £38,086 per year. Salaries for postdoctoral positions in academia range from £25,000 to around £40,000, and senior level roles for those with significant experience can attract salaries of £35,000 to £80,000 and above. 

Typical Responsibilities:

  • Designing, planning and conducting experiments and clinical trials
  • Using technology to analyse and interpret findings
  • Creating recommendations according to research and experiment findings
  • Drafting reports and other written materials
  • Collaborating with other scientists; sharing results and discussing findings through meetings, reports and conferences
  • Liaising with regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with local, national and international regulations
  • Reading specialist literature in order to keep up to date with other pharmacological research 

Key Skills & Qualifications
As a starting point for this career, you’ll be required to hold a solid scientific degree in pharmacology or a related subject such as biology, biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, neuroscience, physiology or toxicology. Obtaining postgraduate qualifications such as an MSc or PhD in pharmacology or a related subject can also be beneficial, especially for highly competitive roles such as those at major pharmaceutical companies.

Required job skills

  • Solid communication skills for writing and explaining papers and reports, and giving presentations 
  • Leadership and management skills for overseeing laboratory staff, fellow pharmacologists and technicians
  • Critical and analytical thinking, for problem-solving and evaluating large amounts of data 
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Strong IT skills, including data retrieval and analysis
  • Enthusiasm for learning new skills and techniques
  • Organisational and time management skills

Job Trends

Demand for pharmacologists is rising, due to continuous medical research, higher reliance on pharmaceutical products, and an increasing older population. Most jobs are expected to root from the private sector, especially in the areas of prescription drugs and biomedical tools. Pharmacology can be an exciting and rewarding career, with a diverse range of employment opportunities and excellent salary and progression prospects for those committed to gaining further qualifications and experience.