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Pharmacology Career

Stephen Rampur
Pharmacology is a field which is directly related to the study and research of medicines. Pharmacologists typically have to possess a Pharm.D degree, in order to carry out their services.
In the healthcare industry, there are some jobs that bring the care provider in direct contact with the patients, while others are non-clinical or research-based careers.
This job is most suitable for those who want to have a career in the health industry, but do not want to be in direct contact with patients and want favorable work conditions, as well as a good income. Being a research position and that too in the clinical field is the main reason why professionals in this job are so well paid.
Those working in this field are called pharmacologists. They can serve in commercial medical research establishments, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, crime and research laboratories, or even as professors in medical schools.
Note that a pharmacologist and a pharmacist are two different professionals, with some similarities in the educational requirements. A pharmacologist is a person who studies drugs and its effects, experiments with chemical compounds, and aids in the innovation of drug therapies.
On the other hand, a pharmacist is one who is responsible for dispensing drugs and other medications to patients, while having a thorough knowledge of the same.

Job Description

A pharmacologist is a specialist who designs drugs. He conducts a research on how particular drugs and medicines are broken down, absorbed, and accepted by the human body. This career also has toxicology as a specialization which involves the study of the adverse effects of medicines on the body.
He uses statistical tools and theories to determine the positive or negative impact of drugs. He has to work using microscopes and other medical testing and precision equipment.
A pharmacologist necessarily needs to have an eye for detail, owing to the observance and research work that is to be carried out. Bear in mind that this medical expert may have additional duties as per specializations mentioned further.


There are various fields in pharmacology such as molecular pharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, chemotherapy, behavioral pharmacology, etc. Molecular pharmacology deals with the correlation of drugs and molecules within body cells. Cardiovascular pharmacology concentrates on the effect of medicines on the heart.
Chemotherapy is a discipline which is concerned with cancer. Behavioral pharmacology relates to the changes in behavioral aspects of a person due to consuming medicines. These include memory, learning capacity, and sleep levels. There are many other disciplines in this research field.

Educational Requirements

During your schooling, it is better to concentrate on subjects such as biology, chemistry, math, and others from the science field. If you are thinking of becoming a pharmacologist, you need to possess the same educational qualifications that are required to be a pharmacist, which is the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree from a recognized school.
However, some employers may even hire pharmacologists with an MSc in Pharmacology. Those who want to excel in the field can opt for obtaining a Ph.D. degree. You may even have to choose a degree that is specific to the field of employment.

Salary Range

The median per annum earnings of a pharmacologist is believed to be around USD 97,000. However, this figure may vary as per the experience, specialization, state and city of employment, and the type of employer.
The median salary according to the state of employment is -
  • New York - USD 94,000
  • California - USD 104,000
  • Texas - USD 74,000
  • New Jersey - USD 145,000
  • Massachusetts - USD 91,000
Consider pharmacology as a career only if you are sure you will enjoy this research-based job. Though the starting pay of these professionals is low, you can earn a substantial amount after a couple of years of experience and expertise.