Pharmacologists are considered medical scientists, which means you’ll need a lot of schooling before you can start your career.

How to Become a Pharmacologist

To become a pharmacologist, you’ll:

  • Get your high school diploma or GED
  • Get your bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or another related field
  • Take toxicology, microbiology, chemistry, and other science courses
  • Get hands-on training via clinicals and labs
  • Gain acceptance to medical school
  • Pass the licensing and medical exam requirements
  • Continue your education with postdoctoral studies—lab work, gene splicing and other advanced level processes
  • Obtain the proper licensing, registration, and certifications
  • Start your career in medical residency or in postdoctoral research

Having articles published in related journals may help you find a permanent college or university teaching position, if that’s the direction you’re interested in heading.

What Does a Pharmacologist Do?

As a pharmacologist, you’ll be using clinical trials and other investigative means to come to conclusions on ways to improve human health.

A pharmacologist’s job description may include:

  • Investigating diseases and preventative methods through studies
  • Collecting, preparing, and analyzing samples you take to compile information on toxicity, pathogens, or chronic diseases
  • Developing new drugs and testing them on humans or animals
  • Creating clinical trials to experimentally test the drugs
  • Spearheading the design and development of new medical devices
  • Developing programs within communities that helps to improve the health of the population
  • Developing and testing new drugs until the FDA approves
  • Studying links between habits and diseases/conditions (diet to diabetes, etc.)
  • Applying for funding through grants

Salary and Job Outlook

In 2020, the median annual salary for all medical scientists, including pharmacologists, was $91,510 per year. That’s almost $44.00 per hour! When you’re early on in your career, expect to bring home about $50,240, but once you’ve settled and become established then you could make up to $164,650 per year.

Faster than average employment growth is predicted for medical scientist careers, with 8,400K new jobs projected through 2029. With the largest demographic aging (baby boomers), and Gen X falling closely behind, research on conditions and diseases relating to aging will become a major focus. Plus, as travel continues to increase, so will the need to research those diseases that make their way from one continent to the next via a tourist on an airplane or ship.  

If helping to contribute to treatments and medicine that benefits humanity is your thing, than you consider becoming a pharmacologist. And who knows, maybe it’ll be you who stops the Zombie Apocalypse in its tracks. 🙂