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What can I do with my degree?: Pharmacy

Pharmacy is one of the fastest growing areas of healthcare and offers a wide range of career opportunities….

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects. 

Work experience

Undertaking a placement or gaining relevant work experience will greatly enhance your employability. It shows potential employers that you are enthusiastic and that you can apply the skills you have learned during your course to the workplace.

Most retail chains offer summer placement programmes in community pharmacy lasting between six and eight weeks. Some employers will recruit their pre-registration trainees from these programmes.

It is also possible to gain experience in a hospital pharmacy, although this may be unpaid and last from a few days to a few weeks.

Experience in a retail environment or voluntary work in a healthcare setting will enable you to develop valuable skills including customer or patient care, and will increase your knowledge of over-the-counter medications.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

The majority of community pharmacists in the UK work in large retail chains or independent pharmacies of various sizes. Others are employed by small or medium-sized chain stores, GP surgeries or health centres.

Around 6,000 pharmacists work in UK hospitals. The majority of hospital pharmacists work for hospitals within the National Health Service (NHS).

Qualified pharmacists can work as locum (temporary replacement) pharmacists, either on a self-employed basis or through an agency.

Pharmacy graduates are also employed by private sector organisations, e.g. pharmaceutical companies and food and drink companies, to work in areas such as research and development, quality assurance, marketing, sales and management.

Find information on employers in healthcare, science and pharmaceuticals and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

Studying pharmacy enables you to develop skills specific to the role of a pharmacist and these include:

  • knowledge and understanding of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to the design and manufacture of medicines;
  • how to communicate effectively with patients and other health professionals;
  • production of pharmacy-specific scientific documentation;
  • the ability to work carefully, methodically and accurately;
  • operation of pharmaceutical instrumentation;
  • knowledge of the law and ethical concerns relating to the supply of medicines;
  • analysis of medicines.

You also develop a broad range of transferable skills that are very attractive to employers in other sectors:

  • verbal communication;
  • interpersonal skills;
  • ability to work well as part of a team;
  • numeracy and computation;
  • problem-solving skills and the ability to think clearly and methodically;
  • information technology;
  • time management and organisational skills;
  • the ability to critically evaluate data;
  • commercial awareness;
  • an ethical attitude.

Further study

Generally, only small numbers of pharmacy graduates go on to do further study directly after graduation. This is because a pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed to practise as a pharmacist and is rarely advantageous when applying for jobs within the profession. A recent survery by the Higher Education Statistics Agency indicates that one in ten pharmacy graduates take up further study, either full time or part time while working.

Pharmacy graduates who want a career in scientific research and development may choose to study for an MSc or PhD, in fields such as biomedical or chemical science. Graduates who decide that they want to pursue careers outside pharmacy may undertake a relevant postgraduate course to broaden their skills and increase their knowledge of other areas.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do pharmacy graduates do?

After graduating, many pharmacy graduates work as community or hospital pharmacists. In fact, more than 97% of recent graduates working in the UK are pharmacists.

Some courses offer integrated professional training. Graduates from these courses can go straight into a career as a fully qualified pharmacist without the need to do a pre-registration year.

Graduate destinations for pharmacy
Destinations Percentage
Employed 88.8%
Further study 2.1%
Working and studying 6.5%
Unemployed 1.5%
Other 1.1%
Types of work entered in the UK
Health professionals 98%
Technicians and other professionals 0.3%
Managers 0.2%
Science 0.1%
Other 1.4%

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2013

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