What Does A Pharmacologist Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz


Pharmacologist test medications and chemical compounds, often through clinical trials involving human volunteers. They often research drugs to help treat specific diseases.


Pharmacologists are responsible for researching and testing medications to help develop more effective drug therapies. They are typically employed in the Pharmaceutical industry and work in labs and healthcare facilities.

Pharmacologists analyze the effectiveness of medications along with their potential side effects. Working as a Pharmacologist allows you to help treat or cure diseases and ailments. You get to spend time studying how people or animals react to various drugs and chemical compounds. Pursuing a career in Pharmacology can be rewarding but it also requires advanced education and involves a variety of job duties.

What they do

Pharmacologist test medications and chemical compounds, often through clinical trials involving human volunteers. They often research drugs to help treat specific diseases.

Conduct research to test pharmaceutical products

Pharmacologists spend most of their time researching to test new pharmaceutical products or improve existing ones. They analyze the way the drugs interact with the body to discover the effectiveness and side effects of drugs.

Research often involves clinical trials. During a clinical trial, a Pharmacologist may supervise a team of Researchers and oversee the administering of drugs to volunteers. They must ensure that the trial follows all applicable safety and regulatory standards. When preparing a clinical trial, a Pharmacologist may need to outline specific hypotheses. They then test their hypotheses and publish reports based on their findings.

Collaborate with other scientists and skilled professionals

Pharmacologists often work with a team of individuals when researching new or existing drugs. Depending on the project, they may work with Pharmaceutical Scientists, Medical Research Scientists, and various Technicians and Assistants.

Pharmacologists may also need to collaborate with non-medical individuals, such as employees involved in marketing, advertising, or sales. For example, a Pharmacologist may need to explain the features of a drug in non-technical terms to make the information easier to understand.

Perform maintenance on laboratory equipment

Pharmacologists are often responsible for maintaining the laboratory equipment that they use for their research. This may involve cleaning, inspecting, and calibrating equipment. They may also need to order replacement parts and lab supplies.

Depending on the size of the lab, entry-level employees may perform the maintenance tasks while the Pharmacologist supervises their work. For example, Technicians or Research Assistants may clean and organize equipment under the direction of the Pharmacologist.

Along with maintaining lab equipment, Pharmacologists often need to maintain a clean environment. They also need to follow all applicable procedures and standards for the safe disposal of equipment or chemicals.

Write and publish reports on pharmaceutical research

After completing a clinical trial or lab tests, Pharmacologists often develop detailed reports. They must take exhaustive notes throughout their research and compile their findings. The reports produced by Pharmacologists may be published in peer-reviewed journals.

The reports may also be used internally for the development and marketing of new drugs. For example, a Pharmacologist may present their findings to the marketing and sales departments, helping marketers and salespeople understand the benefits and risks of the drug.

Keep up to date with the latest pharmaceutical developments

Pharmacologists need to keep up to date with the latest advances in the pharmaceutical industry. This includes following the latest developments and discoveries made by colleagues and complying with most current safety and health standards.

Many Pharmacologists also choose to continue their education to advance their careers. After working as a Pharmacologist, you may choose to obtain further training through a postdoctoral or fellowship program.

What is the job like


You get to help develop new drugs and save lives

Pharmacologists research drugs to create more effective treatments for a wide range of diseases, from various cancers to heart disease and diabetes. Your work may help save lives, which can make a career as a Pharmacologist extremely rewarding.

You get to solve problems using your knowledge and training

Pharmacologists are often curious individuals and they get to satisfy their curiosity by testing various hypotheses. You can get to learn how drugs interact with the body and test different combinations of chemical compounds.

You may work with a wide range of individuals from different backgrounds

Pharmacologists often work in a team that may include a diverse group of individuals. For example, you may need to work with marketers to properly market a new drug or work on projects with skilled professionals from a variety of disciplines.

You are constantly learning new things

Pharmacologists need to remain aware of the latest developments in their field and are frequently completing research projects, ensuring that you are always learning something new and interesting.


You may spend long hours in a lab setting

While many Pharmacologists enjoy working in the lab, you may occasionally spend long hours on the job. The long hours can make this job more stressful.

You may spend years on a project with unsuccessful results

Not all drugs become available to the public. Some of the projects that you work on may not produce positive results, which can leave you feeling as if you have wasted your time.

Where they work

Government Agencies & Regulatory Authorities
Academic Institutions
Pharmaceutical Companies
Medical Research Facilities

Clinical Research Facilities

Pharmacologists are employed in the public and private sectors. In the public sector, Pharmacologists typically work for government agencies, academic institutions, and various regulatory authorities.

In the private sector, Pharmacologists are often employed by pharmaceutical companies and medical research facilities. Pharmacologists in the private sector are often involved in the development of new drugs and treatments. Other potential employers include privately-funded clinical research facilities.

How to become one

Step 1: Take science courses in high school

Pharmacologists require backgrounds in Biology and Chemistry. Taking these courses in high school helps you develop important foundational skills.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s degree

Most Pharmacologists earn a Doctorate of Pharmacology (Pharm.D) from accredited pharmacy schools. However, you need to complete two to three years of college before enrolling. Earning a Bachelor’s degree in a related field of study can prepare you for pharmacy school. Common majors include Biology and Chemistry.

Step 3: Enroll in an accredited pharmacy school

After meeting the enrollment requirements, attend a pharmacy school and earn a Pharm.D degree. The pharmacy school programs typically last six years, which includes two years of specific undergraduate study followed by four years of professional pharmacy study.

Step 4: Earn a Ph.D. in Pharmacology

An alternative to attending a pharmacy school is to earn a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. This typically requires the completion of a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. However, some colleges and universities provide educational paths that lead to both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D.

Step 5: Obtain a professional license or certification

After finishing your schooling, you can apply for professional certification through the American Board of Clinical Pharmacology. This certification is necessary for those whose jobs involve human testing.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Pharmacologists should be detail-oriented individuals as they conduct research that requires the accurate collection and analysis of data. They also need to be patient as some projects may take years to complete.

Curiosity is also a positive personality trait for Pharmacologists as curiosity forces you to constantly search for answers to problems. Pharmacologists should be knowledgeable due to the technical nature of Pharmacology and the complex issues that they work to solve.

Take this quiz to see if being a Pharmacologist is right for you.

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