How to become a pharmacologist: Mah Hussain's story
What's your job?
I’m a scientist, or a pharmacologist to be more precise. Pharmacology is the science of medicine or other substances and their effect on living systems.
I currently work part-time as a science teacher, inspiring school-age children and supervising university students.
How did you get started in this role?
My childhood began in Pakistan and ended in Hull, where I was the only student of Asian heritage at my comprehensive school.
I went to university and did a degree in pharmacology. Then I worked in industry as a formulation scientist and for a university as a social scientist. After that, I decided to use my scientific expertise to set up my own ethical skincare business. I used my garage as the warehouse, my kitchen as the formulation department and my phone and email as the customer relations department.
What inspires you?
It’s all about exploration. I was really into Star Trek as a kid and did a lot of role play with my brother.
Science is like being Captain Kirk, but instead of exploring different planets, there’s so much to explore here on Earth.
I did A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and Physics, a degree in Pharmacology and masters degree in Health Service Research and a PhD in Social Science.
Best thing about your job
The fascinating thing about science is that you can apply it to cooking, to make-up, to cleaning - basically anything. It gives you tools to do so many different things. It’s great fun. If I was born again, I’d be a scientist all over again.
- Be brave enough to explore different ideas
- Expect to work long hours, so feeling passionate about your work is a must
- Practice mindfulness and meditation, as it can be very stressful
- Get your basic education and focus on doing well in your core subjects
- Don’t be afraid to change your career.
I'm a biker, a rock music fan and a pharmacologist. We live in a fluid world and it is okay to change your mind about what you want to do for a living - at any age.
What to expect if you want to be a pharmacologist
- Salary: From £25,000 to £80,000
- Working hours: On average 38-40 hours per week
What qualifications do you need to be a pharmacologist?
- Entry requirements: You'll usually need 2 to 3 A-levels for a degree and a science degree in a relevant subject. Pharmacology is the most relevant subject, although a degree in biochemistry, physiology, or microbiology may also be accepted by employers.
This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)