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

Your daily tasks will 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

How To Become a Pharmacologist

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

You may have started out as a medical doctor, but you might find you’re more interested in the research aspect of the profession that is common but not required.

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.

Salary and Job Outlook

In 2017, the median annual salary for all medical scientists, including pharmacologists, was $82K. When you’re early on in your career, expect to bring home over $42K, but once you’ve settled and become established then you can count on making in the $160Ks.

Faster than average employment growth is predicted for medical scientist careers, with 16K new jobs opening through 2026. 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 must become a pharmacologist. And who knows, maybe it’ll be you who stops the Zombie Apocalypse in its tracks.

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