Health and Safety

3 Steps on How to Become a Pharmacist in the UK [2024]

Ever thought about how those cool folks in white coats at the pharmacy use their smarts to help people with medicines? If you’re into the whole science and healthcare scene and want a job that lets you make a difference, becoming a pharmacist in the UK could be just the thing for you! So, how to become a pharmacist in the UK? Now, that’s the question we’re here to answer.

Here’s a brief overview: To become a pharmacist in the UK, first, get a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree, where you’ll learn about important subjects. Then, do a Pharmacist Foundation Training Year to gain practical experience. Finally, register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to officially qualify and start your journey into various pharmacy careers.

Now, hold on tight because we’re about to lay out this step-by-step guide to becoming a registered pharmacist in the UK.

Close-up of an aged man in chemist store asking pharmacist for medical opinion

What is a Pharmacist? What do Pharmacists do?

A pharmacist is someone who works in a pharmacy and helps people with their medicines. They sell medicines, suggest products, do basic health checks, and give out prescribed medications. Pharmacists —

  • talk to doctors about prescriptions,
  • make sure certain drugs are prepared correctly,
  • and check if different treatments can be used together.

and check if different treatments can be used together.

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They also advise on side effects, prepare medication boxes, keep updated on new drugs, give vaccinations, and arrange medicine delivery.

Sometimes, pharmacists’ job duties also include supervising other staff, training them, running clinics for weight loss, or quitting smoking. They perform health checks like —

  • measuring blood pressure,
  • diabetes screening,
  • and checking cholesterol.

If needed, they may send someone to a doctor for more help.

Close-up of two smiling pharmacists showing medicine in pharmacy

3 Steps on How to Become a Pharmacist in the UK

In the UK, there are not many options for becoming a pharmacist, and the options are quite similar across different areas. Usually, you need to get a master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm), finish a one-year training program, and register with the right organisation. These qualifications allow you to work as a pharmacist.

Here’s a list of the qualifications, along with a brief explanation of each.

Step 1: Qualifications and Education: Pharmacist Degree

To kick off your journey as a pharmacist in the UK, you need to build a strong base through pharmacist education and qualifications. A master’s degree in pharmacy is the first step here. This part is very important because it gives you the scientific know-how, hands-on skills, and professional insight you need to thrive in this line of work.

Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) Degree

Your primary key to unlocking the world of pharmacy is the MPharm degree, approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council. This four-year intensive program serves as your passport to becoming a qualified pharmacist. Think of it as an immersive journey through the fascinating realms of:

  • Medicinal Chemistry: In this discipline, you’ll explore the molecular composition of drugs and understand how they interact with the body to produce their effects.
  • Pharmacology: Here, you’ll uncover the mechanisms of action of drugs, studying how they affect various organ systems and treat different medical conditions.
  • Pharmaceutics: You’ll also learn to master the art and science of drug formulation, design, and preparation, ensuring their effectiveness, safety, and stability.
  • Public Health: With the knowledge of this discipline, you’ll gain insights into population health, epidemiology, and healthcare systems, preparing you to contribute to broader public health initiatives.

Throughout the MPharm program, you’ll experience a mix of theoretical learning, practical lab sessions, and placements in real-world pharmacy settings. This combination provides you with the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to navigate the diverse world of pharmacy practice confidently.

Close-up of a female pharmacist recommending medicine to a female.

Pharmacy Entry Requirements in the UK

To start your MPharm journey, you’ll usually need to show solid academic performance in science subjects. Typically, universities expect you to have accomplished Two or three A-levels (or equivalent qualifications) in subjects like:

  • Chemistry (very important!)
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Mathematics

Some universities may also consider relevant vocational qualifications, such as BTEC Level 3 qualifications in Applied Sciences or Access to HE Diplomas. Keep in mind that entry requirements might slightly differ between universities, so it’s essential to research specific programs and their prerequisites.

Choosing the Right MPharm Program

Choosing the right MPharm program from the numerous universities across the UK can be a bit overwhelming. To make it easier, consider these factors:

  • University Reputation and Accreditation: Opt for a program accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to ensure it meets the required standards for pharmacist qualification.
  • Program Focus and Specialisations: Some programs offer specialisations in areas like clinical pharmacy, industrial pharmacy, or research pharmacy. Pick a focus that aligns with your interests and career goals.
  • Location and Learning Environment: Take into account the university’s location, campus facilities, and teaching style to find a program that matches your learning preferences.

Remember, actively researching different programs, attending university open days, and talking to current students or program advisors can significantly help in making your decision.

Close-up of young female pharmacist going through medicine inventory in a pharmacy

Step 2: Pre-registration Training – Bridging the Gap from Theory to Practice

After conquering the academic challenges of your MPharm degree, Step 2 introduces you to the practical side of things with the Pharmacist Foundation Training Year. Completing the foundation year is a mandatory requirement for pharmacist registration in the UK. This one-year paid placement is a crucial bridge between what you’ve learned in theory and the real-world work of a pharmacist.

Pharmacist Foundation Training Year

Here’s what you can expect:

  • You’ll rotate through various pharmacy settings, gaining hands-on experience in places like community pharmacies, hospitals, and GP surgeries. This involves tasks such as dispensing medications, interacting with patients, and managing stock.
  • The focus is on honing your practical skills, including clinical skills (medication dispensing, aseptic technique), communication skills (building rapport with patients), and problem-solving skills (analysing clinical situations).
  • Throughout the year, experienced pharmacists will supervise and mentor you, guiding your learning, providing feedback, and answering your questions.

Finding the Right Placement

  • National Placement Service (NPS): The GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council) operates the NPS (National Pharmacy Selection), matching graduates with foundation training placements across the UK. You can express preferences for specific regions or settings during the application.
  • Direct Applications: You can also contact pharmacies or NHS trusts directly to inquire about foundation training opportunities.

Close-up of young male pharmacist using a computer while holding a bottle of pills in a pharmacy

Step 3: Registration and Beyond

Congratulations! With your MPharm degree and completed foundation training year, you’re almost ready to become a qualified pharmacist in the UK officially. Step 3 marks the end of your hard work and opens doors to diverse and rewarding career paths in the world of pharmacy.

Unlocking the Doors of Practice

The last thing you need to do to be a qualified pharmacist is to sign up with the GPhC. There are things you must do for this.

  • General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Registration

This is the final step (registering as a pharmacist in the UK) before practising as a pharmacist. The GPhC ensures pharmacists meet competence and professionalism standards. To register, submit your foundation training completion certificate, which involves a supervisor’s sign-off for a completed one-year foundation training program, and the last part is passing the GPhC Registration Assessment, testing skills in math, professional judgment, and applying pharmaceutical knowledge.

  • Welcome to the Register!

Once registered, your name will proudly appear on the GPhC register, officially recognising you as a qualified pharmacist. This opens doors to employment opportunities in various pharmacy settings.

Charting Your Path: Career Options

With your pharmacist qualifications, explore paths like:

  • Community Pharmacy: Dispensing medications, offering health advice, and building relationships with patients in local pharmacies.
  • Hospital Pharmacy: Managing medication regimens for inpatients, ensuring medication safety, and contributing to clinical decision-making.
  • GP Surgery Pharmacy: Collaborating with GPs for medication reviews, optimising drug therapy, and providing medication education.
  • Industry: Research and development, pharmaceutical manufacturing, quality control, and regulatory affairs within pharmaceutical companies.
  • Academia: Teaching, conducting research, and contributing to the advancement of pharmacy knowledge.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development

The field of pharmacy is always changing, so it’s important to keep learning. The GPhC says you must do Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities to stay registered. This can include going to conferences, workshops, online courses, or doing research projects.

Beyond the Job

The job of a pharmacist is doing more than dispensing medications. You play a vital role in public health, promoting medication adherence, educating about healthy choices, and contributing to community health.

Young happy pharmacist working in drugstore and looking at camera. Her customer is in the background.

Pharmacist Salary in the UK

Pharmacists in the UK generally enjoy good salaries. However, the average pharmacist’s salary in the UK can vary depending on experience, location, and specific role.

If you wonder about the starting salary for pharmacists in the UK, it typically starts with a salary ranging from £32,306 to £39,027 under the Agenda for Change pay structure. As of 2024, according to the NHS, the average annual salary for a pharmacist in the UK is around £51,614.

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Additional Tips for Aspiring Pharmacists

Aspiring pharmacists can follow these extra tips to stand out in the process of becoming a pharmacist in the UK:

  • Watch and learn from pharmacists in various places
  • Volunteer at pharmacies, health fairs, or patient support groups
  • Stay updated on current trends and advancements in pharmacy
  • Develop excellent communication skills
  • collaborative skills to work effectively within healthcare teams
  • mentors among experienced pharmacists
  • Seek an internship or part-time pharmacist role
  • Consider pursuing additional qualifications or certifications
  • Highlight your strengths, interests, and unique experiences during interviews and applications.


How many years does it take to become a pharmacist in the UK?

It typically takes 5 years to become a fully registered pharmacist in the UK. This includes:

  • 4 years: Completing a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree.
  • 1 year: Completing the Pharmacist Foundation Training Year.

Do pharmacists get paid well in the UK?

Yes, pharmacists in the UK enjoy a pretty good wage. For more information, read the section titled “Pharmacists’ Salary in the UK” in the blog.

Is it hard to get into a Pharmacy in the UK?

Pharmacy programs in the UK can be competitive, with entry requirements typically demanding good grades in science subjects like chemistry and biology. However, with dedication and strong academic performance, gaining admission is certainly achievable.

How do I become a certified pharmacist in the UK?

To become a certified pharmacist in the UK, you need to:

  • Complete an accredited MPharm degree.
  • Complete the Pharmacist Foundation Training Year.
  • Register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
  • Pass the GPhC registration assessment.

Are pharmacists in demand in the UK?

Yes, pharmacists are generally in demand in the UK. The NHS projects a continued need for pharmacists in the coming years, particularly in community pharmacies and specialised areas like clinical pharmacy.

Which country pays pharmacists the most?

When it comes to pharmacist salaries, the top-ranking countries can vary based on sources and data collection methods. Nevertheless, some countries that are often mentioned near the top include:

  • United States
  • Switzerland
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Norway

It’s important to note that salary figures can change over time, and various factors, such as cost of living and demand for healthcare professionals in a particular region, can influence these rankings. Always refer to the latest and most reliable sources for the most up-to-date information.

Wrapping Up

Becoming a pharmacist in the UK might look like a long journey, but it leads to a rewarding and meaningful career. With the right knowledge, improving your skills, and grabbing opportunities, you can make your dream of being a pharmacist come true. Keep in mind that dedication, persistence, and a true desire to help your community are crucial for success.

This blog on “How to become a Pharmacist” has acted as your guide, but your journey is just beginning. So, take a moment, face the challenges, and confidently start the path to becoming a pharmacist. The healthcare world needs your expertise, commitment, and unique contributions.

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