Uses biology and chemistry

Job Description

Being a pharmacologist entails understanding how drugs interact with biological systems, vitro research, vivo research, and designing drugs to cure diseases. Pharmacologists, with their knowledge of medicine, can work to standardize medication dosages, discover side effects, and uses for new chemicals as drugs.

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Career Paths and Specialization

Pharmacology is a general area of study and work as there are specializations within it which include:

  • neuropharmacology
  • cardiovascular pharmacology
  • in vivo pharmacology
  • psychopharmacology
  • veterinary pharmacology

Earnings and Job Outlook

Pharmacologists generally work in urban areas where there is a pharmaceutical or medical research facility. These places range from universities to pharmaceutical companies to federal governments. With a university, a pharmacologist can work independently as long as he secures funding for his studies, but companies and governments make pharmacologists research, experiment, and design drugs for specific diseases.

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the mean salary for a pharmacologists was about $90,106. The top paying employers for this career were companies and the federal government which paid an average $118,000.

The BLS projects that jobs in the field of pharmacology are inspected to increase by 13% as the need of pharmaceuticals will increase with the growing aging population.

School and Training

To begin on the path of pharmacology a person would begin with getting a bachelor's degree in a biological science. His coursework would include life sciences, physics, chemistry, math and humanities. After earning his bachelor's degree, he has have multiple paths to choose from.

Two options would be to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a combined Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Ph.D. degree. A Ph.D. program in biological sciences takes about six years to complete. With the first option, he'll choose a field to specialize in, like pathology, bioinformatics or genetics. In an M.D.-Ph.D. program, he'd go to medical school for 7-8 years, learning both medical research and clinical skills through in-class, laboratory and clinical instruction.

A third option would be earning a medical degree instead of a Ph.D. and choosing to do research instead of going into practice as a physician.

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Important Skills

Communication skills are important for this career, because a pharmacologist has to explain his experiments and findings to scientists and non-scientists, in both oral and in written reports. Leadership is another beneficial quality, since he may be in charge of staff of an entire laboratory, including other pharmacologists and technicians. Critical-thinking and analytical skills will help to analyze large amounts of data and solve problems efficiently. He must also have a sharp eye for detail, since much of his job involves precise observation.