How to become a pharmacist: Usman's story

Meet Usman and learn more about life as a pharmacist for the North West Ambulance Service. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I've always wanted to help people, so pharmacy seemed like the right career choice for me.

  • Usman is an urgent care desk pharmacist. He speaks with patients over the phone and provides expertise on medicines, for example where there are errors with medication or a patient has accidentally or intentionally taken the wrong dose
  • He was inspired to become a pharmacist as he has asthma and, growing up, was helped a lot by his pharmacist
  • It can be quite an emotional job but Usman has learnt to maintain professional boundaries so he can stay composed and do his best for his patients.
Watch Usman's colleagues in action on BBC One's Ambulance.

What to expect if you want to be a pharmacist

  • Pharmacist average salary: NHS band 6-7. Read more about NHS bands. Salaries will differ in private healthcare.
  • Pharmacist typical working hours: 37.5 to 40 hours per week. You work shifts, which could include evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

What qualifications do you need to be a pharmacist?

To be a pharmacist, you'll need to complete a university degree (Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree) and a one year pre-registration training course in pharmacy. To get a place on the MPharm, you'll need two or three A-levels, or equivalent, including Chemistry. Alternatively, if you have one A-level or equivalent, you could apply for a two-year pharmacy foundation degree alongside gaining experience working in a pharmacy, and then apply to join the MPharm degree in its second year. Some universities accept vocational qualifications, such as BTEC Level 3, National Extended Diploma in Applied Sciences or the Access to HE Diploma. If you're based in England, you could also consider a T-level (equivalent to three A-levels).

Sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, NHS Health Careers. GOV.UK.

This information is a guide and is constantly changing. Please check out NHS Health Careers and the National Careers Service website for the latest information and all the qualifications needed and the GOV.UK website for more on T-levels.

Work experience in your area
Find work experience placements with Workfinder.

Tips and advice
Help with interviews, writing a CV and all things work experience related.

Work experience can help you make informed decisions about your future career.
Matt: Air ambulance doctor
Tanoh: paramedic
Sarah: critical care staff nurse