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Is Pharmacy a good career choice?

Hello

I am currently applying for university. I've already written a personal statement for Pharmacy courses, but I've found that a lot of people say the course doesn't have very good career prospects, and that other courses, such as Optometry, are better in this regard. The actual content of the Pharmacy course interests me, and I think working as a hospital pharmacist would be interesting, but I don't want to spend lots of money and time on a degree that could be better spent on another.

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Hi, I'm also applying to pharmacy for entry 2023.
I've seen a lot of people say that pharmacy is a dying career. However, the course also interests me and it is a guaranteed job at the end of your degree. Pharmacists are desperately needed as of late and having the degree can open up many career aspects that are not just pharmacy, e.g a toxologist or you can even convert your pharmacy degree into a law degree (though you'll have two more years down the drain) and be a pharmaceutical lawyer. So in other words I think there are many career prospects though it may just take time.
Lastly being an Industrial Pharmacist will give you the most success, though it is harder to get into.
Good luck.
Original post by NeverKnowsBest
Hello

I am currently applying for university. I've already written a personal statement for Pharmacy courses, but I've found that a lot of people say the course doesn't have very good career prospects, and that other courses, such as Optometry, are better in this regard. The actual content of the Pharmacy course interests me, and I think working as a hospital pharmacist would be interesting, but I don't want to spend lots of money and time on a degree that could be better spent on another.
Hello, I'm currently a 4th year MPharm student and I have a few thoughts. So obviously, these days (just like every NHS role), the amount of pay you get for the amount of work you do isn't always up to everyone's standard. However if you qualify as a Pharmacist you're almost guaranteed a job.

Whilst lots of people are unsatisfied with community pharmacy prospects, after qualifying the starting salary is a band 7 salary (£41,659 per year). In comparison with, for example, undergraduate science degrees like biology or chemistry I think this is a pretty good salary. In addition, locum community Pharmacists can earn a lot of money. Look at some of the hourly rates, they're quite impressive. If you're up to the task, if you look at job posts, Pharmacy Managers can earn very impressive amounts of money too. As there seems to be a lot of Pharmacists moving away from community to try and get into other sectors (such as GP), this means if you're willing to put up with all the nonsense it should be easy to find a community Pharmacist job.

After qualifying, hospital pharmacy starts at a lower ban 6 salary (£33,706), but with extra training you can move up to band 7, and potentially even move up throughout your career to earn even more! I'm doing my foundation training year in hospital, and this was the most popular option among students. And there are other areas such as GP, prison etc.

Overall, I'm not trying to hype myself up to earn loads of money and afford a mortgage anytime soon. However for me, I think Pharmacy suits me so much so I enjoy the course and the idea of being a Pharmacist. I'm happy to one day having a job that pays above average that's interesting. One thing to note is that so many GPs are retiring soon so there's a chance that Pharmacists will have to take on some of their work (for example increased services in community, or using our independent prescribing which is now being integrated into the MPharm degree).

Hope this helps, feel free to ask my anything. I think Pharmacy is alright, and if you think you will enjoy the course content then it is a much more stable idea than a lab based BSc degree (e.g. biochemistry) in my opinion.

Edit: Some of the posters may think I'm being too positive about career prospects as I'm not a Pharmacist yet. However I was actually reading all the forums when I was applying to uni, and I'm aware of the struggles associated with the profession (particularly in community). Everyone is struggling right now so I'm not going into this thinking it's going to be sunshine and rainbows. However, I'm still content as I much prefer the idea of working as a Pharmacist in these suboptimal conditions than working in a lab based bio/chem role (I really don't enjoy labs haha).
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by randomsheep11
Whilst lots of people are unsatisfied with community pharmacy prospects, after qualifying the starting salary is a band 7 salary (£41,659 per year). In comparison with, for example, undergraduate science degrees like biology or chemistry I think this is a pretty good salary.

Thanks for your reply. I thought community pharmacists also started at band 6. Where does it say they start at band 7?
Original post by NeverKnowsBest
Thanks for your reply. I thought community pharmacists also started at band 6. Where does it say they start at band 7?


Hiya :smile: sorry I think I didn't explain what I was trying to say very well. Basically in hospital the pay is much more standardised, but in community different branches and independents can vary in pay a bit more. In the areas I'm applying for, there's lots of independents which offer band 7 roles (without being manager roles or having the clinical diploma). So if you want to earn high straight out of your foundation year, working in community can be better in that regard, whilst hospital pharmacists have to complete additional training to be a band 7 clinical pharmacist.
Market is quite over saturated with graduates and competition is quite fierce.
You’ve got Amazon on one side about to sink the market and the EU on the other side trying to replace chemists with robots. This is all going to happen and soon. All I can say is good luck to you and I hope you’re not like someone training to be a black cab driver 2 years before Uber launched.
Original post by Bernard_Lowe
Market is quite over saturated with graduates and competition is quite fierce.

Is that the case all over England, or just in the popular towns and cities like London or Milton Keynes?
Original post by NeverKnowsBest
Thanks for your reply. I thought community pharmacists also started at band 6. Where does it say they start at band 7?

Community doesn't actually have any banding weirdly enough but community salaries are equivalent of a non-london band 6-7 depending on experience (non-london 8a equivalent salary if a manger working 40 hours a week). Locum work pays significantly more bore competition can be quite fierce
Original post by StarLinyx
Is that the case all over England, or just in the popular towns and cities like London or Milton Keynes?

Big cities and towns usually (fun fact, pre-pandemic I used to locum a bit in the BLMK area). In England the competition nowhere near as fierce in Cornwall, Devon and up north in tyneside. Also Norfolk seems to need a lot of locums but we are talking like about 3 hours from MK / 4 hours from London in those areas.
This may change in the next 5 years however
Original post by quasa
Community doesn't actually have any banding weirdly enough but community salaries are equivalent of a non-london band 6-7 depending on experience (non-london 8a equivalent salary if a manger working 40 hours a week). Locum work pays significantly more bore competition can be quite fierce

Big cities and towns usually (fun fact, pre-pandemic I used to locum a bit in the BLMK area). In England the competition nowhere near as fierce in Cornwall, Devon and up north in tyneside. Also Norfolk seems to need a lot of locums but we are talking like about 3 hours from MK / 4 hours from London in those areas.
This may change in the next 5 years however


It might be an idea for the profession to place qualified Pharmacists into locations like doctors under the NHS, so that the less popular locations do have the Pharmacists they need.
Original post by StarLinyx
It might be an idea for the profession to place qualified Pharmacists into locations like doctors under the NHS, so that the less popular locations do have the Pharmacists they need.


Its something which has been suggested in the past but the gphc... Yeah. It was thought that opening pharmacy schools in different locations would address this need however most people end up going back home after uni.

Personally, they need to restrict numbers and they really need to address pharmacist redeployment as there are way more pharmacists than pharmacies yet unemployment is in the thousands. Problem is that housing has become ridiculously high the last 5 years and relocation is nowhere near as likely as it was a decade ago. If salaried pharmacists are barely earning over 40k before deductions (~26-27k after tax, NI, pension, student loan) and rent is over 1k a month, likewise bills and it means that it is extremely hard for people to relocate. Those who have additional factors like family, health issues, caring duties etc and it is not hard to see why people don't want to relocate
(edited 1 year ago)
The Pharmacists starting their training now will have increasingly varied roles - prescribing, working in multi-professional teams etc.etc.
Your placements during your degree will introduce you to the range of potential work available - including postgrad/research opportunities.
Grab the placements, the study abroad opportunities, and get interested in the research thats happening around you. Its all there.
Original post by McGinger
The Pharmacists starting their training now will have increasingly varied roles - prescribing, working in multi-professional teams etc.etc.
Your placements during your degree will introduce you to the range of potential work available - including postgrad/research opportunities.
Grab the placements, the study abroad opportunities, and get interested in the research thats happening around you. Its all there.

I second this - the new foundation training will give people much broader post-graduation experience not subject to the same nepotism / luck based scenarios most registered pharmacists on this site have encountered.
Original post by quasa
Its something which has been suggested in the past but the gphc... Yeah. It was thought that opening pharmacy schools in different locations would address this need however most people end up going back home after uni.

Personally, they need to restrict numbers and they really need to address pharmacist redeployment as there are way more pharmacists than pharmacies yet unemployment is in the thousands. Problem is that housing has become ridiculously high the last 5 years and relocation is nowhere near as likely as it was a decade ago. If salaried pharmacists are barely earning over 40k before deductions (~26-27k after tax, NI, pension, student loan) and rent is over 1k a month, likewise bills and it means that it is extremely hard for people to relocate. Those who have additional factors like family, health issues, caring duties etc and it is not hard to see why people don't want to relocate


Pharmacy graduates still have other options, such as doing a PhD, Medical Writing, Teaching, working in Pharmaceuticals, and other graduate level jobs.
Original post by StarLinyx
Pharmacy graduates still have other options, such as doing a PhD, Medical Writing, Teaching, working in Pharmaceuticals, and other graduate level jobs.

That's true
Original post by quasa
Its something which has been suggested in the past but the gphc... Yeah. It was thought that opening pharmacy schools in different locations would address this need however most people end up going back home after uni.

Personally, they need to restrict numbers and they really need to address pharmacist redeployment as there are way more pharmacists than pharmacies yet unemployment is in the thousands. Problem is that housing has become ridiculously high the last 5 years and relocation is nowhere near as likely as it was a decade ago. If salaried pharmacists are barely earning over 40k before deductions (~26-27k after tax, NI, pension, student loan) and rent is over 1k a month, likewise bills and it means that it is extremely hard for people to relocate. Those who have additional factors like family, health issues, caring duties etc and it is not hard to see why people don't want to relocate

Most companies in CP offer a generous relocation and sign on bonus which can be used as a mortgage deposit. I'm a locum now but when I was employed as a PM in CP, my total upfront bonus was £24,000. Salary was £65,000. Offer was to relocate within the NE.
Original post by Claremont4ever
Most companies in CP offer a generous relocation and sign on bonus which can be used as a mortgage deposit. I'm a locum now but when I was employed as a PM in CP, my total upfront bonus was £24,000. Salary was £65,000. Offer was to relocate within the NE.


Please tell me which companies offer these sort of relocation bonuses? The average I have seen from boots, Lloyd's, Rowlands, well, asda and Tesco is between 5000-6000, with the absolute highest being 13 thousand for signing on bonus and relocation bonus combined for up north. Its worth mentioning to people sources, as well as property prices as the price of a 5 bedroom house in North West and North East is about the same as a studio flat - 2 bedroom flat in the commuter corridor in the south east / east anglia
Yes it is a good career if you believe I am hearing that you find it interesting so I think go for it try harder so that you can enjoy what you are doing.
Original post by quasa
Please tell me which companies offer these sort of relocation bonuses? The average I have seen from boots, Lloyd's, Rowlands, well, asda and Tesco is between 5000-6000, with the absolute highest being 13 thousand for signing on bonus and relocation bonus combined for up north. Its worth mentioning to people sources, as well as property prices as the price of a 5 bedroom house in North West and North East is about the same as a studio flat - 2 bedroom flat in the commuter corridor in the south east / east anglia

It was from one of those ones you mentioned. However, bear in mind though that this was 4 years ago and things might have changed a bit now. I have just checked one of those and they have done away with the sign-on bonus of £8000 which I received, but relocation of upto £8000 is still being offered within the NE.

The details of my actual offer 4 years ago was £8000 sign-on (taxed), £8000 relocation (tax-free), £8000 retention bonus (taxed). Total £24,000.
Original post by quasa
Please tell me which companies offer these sort of relocation bonuses? The average I have seen from boots, Lloyd's, Rowlands, well, asda and Tesco is between 5000-6000, with the absolute highest being 13 thousand for signing on bonus and relocation bonus combined for up north. Its worth mentioning to people sources, as well as property prices as the price of a 5 bedroom house in North West and North East is about the same as a studio flat - 2 bedroom flat in the commuter corridor in the south east / east anglia

Hi again quasa, i dont know if you remember me back in August when i was asking whether to do pharmacy or biomedical science and ultimately ended up taking a gap year to pursue medicine again.

I have three interviews for Medicine, however i understand how hard interview for medicine is and have the same question as i did four months ago. Which career do you think is better for me to get into? If I do unfortunately fail to get into medicine this year i will definitely do my 5th option.

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