14 alternative careers for pharmacists (with salaries)

Updated 31 July 2023

Pharmacists specialise in storing, handling, preparing and dispensing various medications. If you're a pharmacist, there are various career paths in multiple industries to explore, including research, health care and medicine. Understanding the different career options and what they entail helps you choose the right career path. In this article, we discuss 14 alternative careers for pharmacists and their duties and responsibilities.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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What are alternative careers for pharmacists?

Here are 14 alternative careers for pharmacists:

1. Laboratory technician

National average salary: £21,950 per year

Primary duties: A laboratory technician is a skilled professional who assists scientists in medical laboratories. Their exact duties vary depending on the employer, but they're responsible for testing, receiving and analysing specimens, recording data, protecting the accuracy and efficiency of experiments and creating reports. Research, development, production and manufacturing industries employ them to help with research, testing and conducting experiments. Common work areas in this field include laboratories, offices, construction sites and industrial plants.

Related: 8 essential laboratory technician skills

2. Clinical research coordinator

National average salary: £31,402 per year

Primary duties: A clinical coordinator is a health care professional who organises and monitors daily activities for a health care facility. They identify participants that fit the criteria for a drug trial, sign them up and ensure compliance following an organisation's guidelines. They keep track of documents for analysis and ensure that clinical trials meet relevant rules and regulations. Clinical research coordinators work with sponsors, senior offices and institutions to support and offer guidance on administration, financial and clinical research trials. They work in various settings such as health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies and university departments.

Related: Discover how to become a clinical research associate

3. Product development scientists

National average salary: £32,664 per year

Primary duties: A product development scientist is a professional who develops new products by designing formulation experiments and analytical methods. Their primary responsibilities are researching customer demand, working on the formulation and completion of a product and developing new concepts. Product development scientists are responsible for documenting the development process, assisting with production and reviewing and analysing data. They create reports, prepare presentations and test new products to ensure adherence to safety and regulations. Development scientists work in various industries, including cosmetics, biotechnology, food and pharmaceutical, to improve the profitability and efficiency of products.

4. Clinical research associate

National average salary: £33,951 per year

Primary duties: A clinical research associate is a professional who manages clinical trials and studies related to pharmaceutical and biotechnological products, procedures and drugs. They research to ensure the safety of these products in the market. Clinical research associates are responsible for setting up, coordinating and supervising clinical studies to test new or existing products. They monitor study sites and clinical activities, update study documentation and maintain clinical data systems. Clinical research associates work for pharmaceutical companies such as biopharma to carry out clinical trial work and provide statistical resources and analysis.

5. Biomedical scientists

National average salary: £34,030 per year

Primary duties: A biomedical scientist is a professional who carries out scientific tests to support the treatment and diagnosis of diseases. They research new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases using their knowledge of medicine and biology. Biomedical scientists are responsible for performing medical research, conducting clinical trials to test treatment and prevention methods and analysing cultured cells or samples. They work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, laboratories and universities to test and develop new treatment plans.

Related: How to become a biomedical scientist

6. Research scientists

National average salary: £35,866 per year

Primary duties: A research scientist is a professional who designs and analyses information in laboratory trials, investigations and experiments. Their primary duties are planning and conducting experiments, completing applications, writing grant proposals and working alongside team members and support staff. They work in drug trials to prepare medications for test subjects and oversee their proper dispensing. Research scientists work in fields such as political science, medicine and environmental science to conduct lab-based experiments and trials to ensure safe and effective drug therapies.

Related: What does a research scientist do? (With responsibilities)

7. Pharmacologist

National average salary: £36,803 per year

Primary duties: A pharmacologist is a medical scientist who researches to develop substances and chemical compounds for use as medications. They analyse and investigate chemicals, drugs and other substances to understand how they work, how the body processes them and how patients can use them safely. Pharmacologists often liaise with research teams to screen compounds, develop drugs and undertake controlled experiments and clinical trials in the lab. They work in various settings such as universities, national health services and pharmaceutical companies to provide studies that determine the safety and effectiveness of drugs. Common specialities in this field include:

  • Toxicology: The study of how toxic substances affect living organisms.

  • Neuroscience: The study of the brain and nervous system.

  • Pharmacokinetics: The study of the movement of drugs within the body.

Related: What does a pharmacologist do? (With skills and how-to)

8. Pharmaceutical sales representatives

National average salary: £39,112 per year

Primary duties: A pharmaceutical sales representative is a professional a pharmaceutical company employs to persuade doctors to prescribe the company's drugs to patients. They serve clients by selling pharmaceutical products, answering questions regarding drugs and meeting their needs. Pharmaceutical sales representatives frequently travel to assigned territories hospitals and offices to give presentations and educate doctors about the drugs they're selling. Their responsibilities include studying each drug to ensure expert knowledge, delivering samples to entities serious about purchasing and creating promotional materials such as banners for client dissemination.

9. Medical writer

National average salary: £42,314 per year

Primary duties: A medical writer is a professional who creates various scientific papers such as drug-related documents, research and literature for health care websites and publications and informational pamphlets. They have an adequate understanding of medical, scientific and health terms and concepts and the skills to translate information into various formats for different audiences. Medical writers work alongside doctors, scientists and other health care professionals to produce online and physical medical documents for promotional, informative and educational purposes. They work in product marketing, consumer medicine, clinical trial protocols and clinical trial publications.

10. Medical science liaison

National average salary: £42,668 per year

Primary duties: A medical science liaison is a health care professional who acts as an advocate and educator for pharmaceutical companies. They provide information regarding medical products, including drugs, medical devices and treatments and ensure health care facilities use these products properly. Medical science liaisons maintain communications and relationships with academic researchers, attend conferences and engage in discussions on diseases and drug therapies. They work within the pharmaceutical, medical device and related health care fields to guide products throughout the development lifecycle, ensuring positive drug use outcomes.

11. Clinical research scientist

National average salary: £43,597 per year

Primary duties: A clinical research scientist is a professional who researches and investigates various diseases to identify health conditions. They liaise with physicians to provide optimal care for patients by giving accurate diagnoses. Clinical research scientists are responsible for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medications, procedures, treatments and devices, conducting research and writing reports about diseases. They work in clinical research centres, labs, research universities and hospitals to improve human health and increase understanding of the human body.

12. Academic pharmacist

National average salary: £46,540 per year

Primary duties: An academic pharmacist is a professional who educates, assesses, trains and develops pharmacy students, pharmacists, pre-registration trainees and other health care professionals. They apply their pharmacy expertise and knowledge to teach and educate pharmacists on many topics. Academic pharmacists are responsible for developing learning material that reflects changes in education and practice, offering support to students and updating degree programmes. Some academic pharmacists work in research to collect and analyse evidence and use this information to provide thought leadership and improvements in medicine and patient health.

13. Neuroscientist

National average salary: £53,349 per year

Primary duties: A neuroscientist is a medical research scientist who studies the nervous system, including the brain, nerves and spinal cord. They're responsible for writing detailed reports, analysing results, researching neurological responses and developing studies. Neuroscientists perform research in labs and offices and evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in hospitals and clinics. Some neuroscientists specialise in a particular field of study, such as the impact of injury to the brain or neurological disorders. They work in various sectors such as government agencies, hospitals, research universities and public companies. Common specialities in this field include:

  • neuroanatomist

  • neurobiologist

  • neurological surgeon

  • neurologist

  • physiological psychologist

  • neurochemist

14. Regulatory affairs manager

National average salary: £54,890 per year

Primary duties: A regulatory affairs manager is a professional who ensures companies remain compliant with regulations and rules set by regulatory agencies. They oversee regulation processes, coordinate company inspections and create procedures to verify compliance. Regulatory affairs managers compile necessary paperwork, documentation and evidence to report to regulatory authorities and help companies make operational and strategic decisions. They work in various settings such as health care, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries to perform or coordinate audits that ensure compliance with regulations and operating procedures.

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