What A levels do you need to be a Pharmacist?

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Written By Dr Shane McKeown


Pharmacists form the backbone of our health care system in the UK today. Alongside doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals they deliver medicine alongside offering patients health advice on everything from smoking cessation to antibiotic usage. If you’re asking question “What A-levels do I need to be a pharmacist?” the answer is clear from the job description. Clearly an interest in health and science will be a first for this degree choice. Read on for our summary of the entry requirements.


The Personal Characteristics of a Pharmacist

Although grades and subjects studied are important, your personality and innate skills will also be studied during the admissions process. Doctors may prescribe medication but pharmacists are the final check in the system before a patient goes home with their treatment. Pharmacists need to be observant for any mistakes their colleagues may have made while also ensuring that their own work is completely free of error. Any unintended changes to prescription medication could lead to a patient becoming worse rather than better and in extreme cases can lead to death.

It is therefore vital any aspiring pharmacist not only has an interest in people’s health but has a keen eye for detail. As innumerable numbers of patients will be relying on you for their health you must have a good sense of responsibility. This will need to back backed up by being accurate and methodical in your work while also being able to maintain clear communication with both members of the public and your colleagues in the hospital or other clinical setting.


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Once qualified from university, many pharmacists will choose to join Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The society recognises the need for health professionals such as pharmacists to keep their working knowledge up to date with seminars, teaching and more. As pharmacists gain experience and responsibility, there is the chance in the future of their career to carry out additional training and qualifications allowing them to prescribe medications without the signature of a doctor.


What A-levels do need to be a Pharmacist?

The entry requirements for becoming a pharmacist begin with GCSEs. You will be expected to have:

Five GCSEs: grades A to C

including:  at least one science, maths and English language

Three A-levels: grades A to B

including:  chemistry and biology with maths or physics


These qualifications will allow you to study for an accredited masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm) which lasts four full years. Once you have successfully completed the degree programme will then be free to register with the general Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

Your registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council will come after working for one year as a preregistration pharmacist in the community or in hospital. You’ll then be required to pass a registration exam before being recognised as a fully qualified pharmacist.


Alternative Routes to becoming a Pharmacist

If you do not have the above qualifications you may still be eligible for entry if you have suitable alternatives. Of course equivalent Scottish or Irish grades are accepted as are BTEC, HND and HNC which includes science. If you find that your grades are significantly lacking or earlier in life you chose not to study science for whatever reason, you may still be eligible to study a foundation degree in pharmacy. Completing this will allow you to go onto study for a master’s degree in pharmacy.


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