What Is a Pharmacologist?

A pharmacologist is a scientist who conducts research experiments and tests drugs to study the effects on animals and humans. Learn about job duties, salary potential and the education requirements for this career. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Do as a Pharmacologist?

Pharmacology is the study of toxicology and drugs. As a pharmacologist, you'll be a type of medical scientist, and you'll work in laboratories testing the effects of drugs on the human body. You'll study how drugs are absorbed into the human system and how they medically react in the body. You may also study how drugs work in animals. You'll develop new drugs by adding and subtracting ingredients until you reach the desired effect of the new drug.

You may also test these drugs on plants and animals to be sure that nothing about the drug is harmful. Your primary goal is to create drugs to aid in the healing of illnesses or in countering side effects from disorders and other drugs. Generally, you won't stop working on a drug until it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What Should I Study?

In your undergraduate years, you'll want to study a natural science, such as biology or chemistry, which are the two subjects your career encompasses. You may also consider a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences. Beyond this, you'll earn your master's degree in pharmaceutical sciences and your Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in pharmacology.

The American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) provides contacts to clinical training programs in pharmacology across the nation (www.accp1.org). The ACCP also conducts visiting scientist programs where you can interact with professional pharmacologists who visit your graduate or medical school.

Will I Need Licensure?

If you plan to work with people through clinical trials or by administering any trial drugs, you must be a licensed physician, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). You'll also need to complete a medical degree and a fellowship. In many cases, you'd complete a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program first, then go on to complete a Ph.D. program in pharmacology.

What Else Do I Need to Know About this Career?

The career outlook for the pharmacology profession is excellent, according to the BLS. Medical scientists (which includes pharmacologists) can expect to see an overall employment increase of 40% between 2008-2018. That means an additional 44,200 jobs. The annual nationwide average pay in 2009 for medical scientists was $84,760, with workers in Vermont, the highest-paying state, earning an average of $120,850 as of the same time frame.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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