How to become a Pharmacologist

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

Personal requirements for 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. 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


  • 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.


  • Investigates the chemical structure and function of living cells and their isolated components, organs and tissues in humans, animals, plants, and micro-organisms.
  • Examines objects of interest and uses the knowledge gained to create and develop new, and improve existing, products, materials and processes.
  • Studies the forms and structures of parasites and toxins by systematic observation, dissection and microscopic examination.
  • Designs and conducts experiments, makes observations and measurements, researches information, analyses data, prepares or supervises the preparation of laboratory reports and scientific papers, presents findings at scientific meetings and conferences, and may supervise the work of staff.

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.


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.


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

  • Average age
    Average age
    37 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    63% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    42 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    70% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    1,000 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 3.9%
    NSW: 26.9%
    NT: 1.5%
    QLD: 17.4%
    SA: 7.4%
    TAS: 2.6%
    VIC: 32.1%
    WA: 8.2%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.3%
    20-24: 5%
    25-34: 35%
    35-44: 30.8%
    45-54: 16.9%
    55-59: 5.5%
    60-64: 3.9%
    65 and Over: 2.6%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 3.4%
    Bachelor degree: 40.9%
    Certificate III/IV: 4.1%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 48.5%
    Year 10 and below: 0%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 3%
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