How to become a Pharmacologist

Pharmacologists evaluate the origin, effects and mechanisms of drugs and develop them for human and animal use.

Personal requirements of a Pharmacologist

  • Enjoy and have aptitude for science and research
  • Able to think logically and analytically
  • Able to carry out detailed and accurate work
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to think creatively and solve problems
  • Able to work as part of a team

Education & Training for a Pharmacologist

To become a pharmacologist you usually have to complete a degree in biomedical science, medical science, pharmaceutical science or science at university with a major in pharmacology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer relevant degrees. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Pharmacologist

Pharmacologists may perform the following tasks:

  • discover, develop and evaluate substances for use in the treatment of disease
  • modify the chemical structure of an effective substance to eliminate undesirable side effects
  • devise and carry out experiments to determine how drug concentrations in the body change over time
  • test newly discovered or manufactured substances for their safety, characteristics and possible use as drugs
  • study what happens to a drug after it has been administered
  • investigate drugs for unwanted or dangerous side effects and, if found, establish why they occur
  • study other substances that affect living organisms, such as pollutants, poisons and insecticides
  • write scientific reports on research and investigations, as well as more general information for scientific, managerial, political and general audiences
  • provide policy and clinical advice to managers, politicians, primary producers, healthcare workers and the general public.

Employment Opportunities for a Pharmacologist

Pharmacologists are employed across several industries, including the pharmaceutical industry, scientific research, post-school education, government and private sector organisations (including research organisations), hospitals and other health services. Demand is linked to factors such as the need for medicines, the market for pharmaceutical products and levels of government funding for research.


Clinical Pharmacologist

A clinical pharmacologist a specialist physician involved in direct patient care. They typically manage patients with multiple medical problems, who are often prescribed multiple medications that may or may not be compatible with each other.

Non-clinical Pharmacologist

A non-clinical pharmacologist specialises in research and experimental studies for the discovery and development of drugs for diseases.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:

relatively steady

Employment by state:

ACT 0.7%

NSW 35.5%

NT 2.9%

QLD 22.2%

SA 9.8%

TAS 3.1%

VIC 17.4%

WA 8.3%

Hours worked:



below average

Gender split:

Proportion of male workers 46.9%

Proportion of female workers 53%

Education level:

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 10: 0%

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 12: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is secondary school: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 52.9%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 47.1%

Age bracket:

Proprortion of workers aged below 35 years: 37.3%

Proportion of workers aged above 35 years: 64.2%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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