Think back to your teenage years. Very few of us have a clear career path set out at the stage of our lives when we’re sitting exams and having fun with our friends, and drift into doing degrees at University which play to our strengths, the subjects we were good at in school. Science types might end up on a pharmacy degree, learning all about drugs and how they work on the human body. But what sort of careers can you do with a degree in pharmacy?
This is the job which immediately leaps to mind when thinking about jobs in pharmacy. The traditional local chemist, working in the community and dispensing prescriptions to patients. Many graduates do go into this type of occupation, and one of the benefits is that there are vacancies across the country from north to south. The downside is that long hours including Sunday working might be required, and many pharmacists are reporting being under increased pressure. Anyone wanting to work as a pharmacist and interact with members of the public needs an Enhanced Disclosure check into their background and criminal record.
This is a similar role to being a retail pharmacist in that you will still be dispensing drugs, but in a hospital setting rather than in the community. You’re unlikely to come into contact with patients as regularly, and this means that hospital pharmacists usually only require a Standard Disclosure rather than the Enhanced type. Hospitals are however a 24/7 operation, and unlike retail pharmacists, those working in hospital might be expected to be there overnight or on public holidays.
A small number of people with a background in pharmacy go into research, working for one of the major drugs companies or health charities. The benefit to this sort of work is that it offers more regular hours, and often has better prospects for progressing into management. The downside is that research jobs tend to be highly sought after and very competitive to get into. Some other pharmacists are employed on the product development side of the research business, to refine existing drugs to make them more efficient.
A further option is training the next generation of pharmacists by thinking about training as a Chemistry teacher in school, or as a pharmacy lecturer in higher education. Teaching’s not for everyone but there is a very high demand for science teachers across the UK at the moment, with people who have worked in industry and are coming to teaching later in life being particularly in demand. If you’ve already got a science degree, you’ll need to do a one year post graduate teaching qualification. There are also several bursaries and other financial incentives to encourage people to train as teachers. Teaching can involve long hours during term time, but with the bonus of long holidays in summer. All people wanting to teach will require an Enhanced Disclosure check, in addition with checking on the Barred Lists of people legal banned from working with children.