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Your path to pharmacology: career options at school and beyond


If you want to become a pharmacologist, you will need to study science. ​

You might decide to train as a doctor and then specialise as a clinical pharmacologist later. Or you might train as a scientist and then get a job as a pharmacologist in a lab. There are lots of routes into pharmacology. Studying pharmacology also gives you skills for a wide range of careers – whether it’s in medicine, scientific research, or in one of the many other career options.​

Your subject choices at 14

At age 14 (year 9 of school) you will have to make the first decision about your future career, when you pick your GCSE subjects. Your GCSE choices will determine what you are able to study for your A-levels or Highers. In turn, the A-Levels you study will affect the university courses and future jobs that you will be able to apply for. This is an important stage for making future careers choices.​

It is most important to pick the subjects that you enjoy and think you will do well in. However, if you want to pursue a career in pharmacology, you will need to include science in your GCSE options. ​

Sciences (either single, double or triple science) are ‘core subjects’ and it is compulsory to take at least one at GCSE. The core science GCSE subjects are biology, physics and chemistry. You need to choose at least one of these as part of your options (single science) or you can choose to study all three as double or triple science.​

Most pharmacology careers require A-Levels (or equivalent) in sciences. You will need to study double or triple science at GCSE to go on to study science A-levels.​

Find out more about your GCSE options.​

Your career choices at 16​

When you are 16, you will have to make the next important decisions about your future career. In parts of the UK, you can leave school once you turn 16. However, in England, everybody must be in a form of recognised education or training until they turn 18, even if they also have a job.​

UK government information on options after leaving school

If you know you want to pursue a career in pharmacology there are several options for you:​

If you want to study for a degree in pharmacology, you will need to choose A-Level (or equivalent) subjects that meet the entry criteria for your preferred university. Each university has their own entry requirements for a pharmacology degree, but most need you to have a minimum of two science A-Levels or one science A-Level plus Maths A-Level.  Be sure to visit the university website to find out what the requirements would be for the courses you are interested in.​

Don't worry if you don't know exactly what you want to do just yet. Research your options and see what appeals to you. ​