Pharmacology: What you need to know?

Pharmacology is the scientific study of the effects of drugs and chemicals on living organisms, which can be broadly defined as any natural or synthetic chemical that affects a biological system.

Pharmacology involves identifying and validating new targets for drug action, as well as designing and developing new drugs to prevent, treat, and cure diseases, and how organisms interact with drugs. It is often confused with the health sciences but both of them are different from each other.

Pharmacology incorporates the knowledge of many different disciplines including pharmacy, medicine, veterinary, nursing and dentistry. It is very critical to human health. Pharmacologists are responsible for painkillers, antibiotics and other medicines. They study how the medicines work and how they can be used in combination with other medicines.  Pharmacology is different from pharmacy as it deals with action and the study of the medicine. On the other hand, Pharmacy is the science and technique of advising about medicines that are already available.

Importance of Pharmacology

Pharmacology is a science that researches the interaction between drugs and living organisms. While it has traditionally been associated with medicine, pharmacology also seeks to understand chemical interactions in other biological systems. It studies how chemical substances interact with biological systems and how drugs work (mechanism of action). Knowledge of these is necessary for pharmaceutical drug research, development, evaluation and usage.

Since pharmacology deals with such a wide variety of subjects, it tends to be grouped together under one section in most universities’ chemistry or life sciences departments. In those places where pharmacology has its own department, students take general chemistry courses as well as specific courses on pharmacological topics during their undergraduate education.

How to become a Pharmacologist?

Pharmacologist is a person who studies or practices pharmacy, or the science of medicine as it relates to drugs.
A pharmacologist mainly deals with different types of medication and chemicals that can be helpful in treating diseases. They are also responsible for keeping such substances away from those who should not have access to them, especially patients with allergies.

Although pharmacologists are not doctors; they are considered as professionals in the healthcare sector because of the knowledge on how to use some drugs which other professionals may know how to use but not know how it acts on a person, causing different problems such as causing death.

Most pharmacologists earn a degree called a Pharm. D., which stands for Doctor of Pharmacy, from a pharmacy school (four years of undergraduate, pre-professional college coursework, plus four years of professional study. It’s the same education traditional pharmacists go through.

How long will it take to become a pharmacologist?

The length of time it takes to become a pharmacologist depends on the degree path chosen, but post-secondary education normally requires 10 to 12 years to complete.

Although certain low-level jobs require only a bachelor’s or master’s degree, most employers require at least a Ph.D. in one of the life sciences, such as biology, for pharmacologists. Some pharmacologists earn a medical degree in addition to a doctorate in biological science.

Undergraduate Degree:

The first step in becoming a pharmacologist is to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. A degree in biological science is recommended, but some universities offer four-year undergraduate programs in pharmacology. Classes vary by school, but typical courses include biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, cell biology and physiology. Most students earn bachelor’s degrees in four years.

Doctoral Degree:

Pharmacologists need to earn a Ph.D. in pharmacology, biological science or a specialty, such as pathology or genetics if they don’t want to go to a medical school. Most Ph.D. programs require six years beyond the bachelor’s degree so that they would have experience which will lead to Ph.D. Students usually have the opportunity to assist with research programs at the university and students can also opt for their own research program related to Pharmacology. Classwork normally includes cell biology, biochemistry and immunology. Students are required to submit a thesis on completion of their program.

How much does a Pharmacologist earn?

The average Pharmacologist salary is $121,708, but the salary range typically falls between $105,971 and $130,125. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, experience, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession. On the other hand, the base salary for Clinical Pharmacologists ranges from $106,977 to $120,778 with the average base salary of $113,577.

Pharmacologists earning can vary based on several factors, including:

  • Geographic location: Jobs in large cities tend to pay more than jobs in rural areas.
  • Specialty: Different specialties can provide varying levels of pay.
  • Setting: Some pharmacists and pharmacologists may practice in their field, pursue additional research or teach. Each career path has different salary ranges.


Pharmacology is a very vast field and many medical students choose this field because they want to research more about medicine and the science behind it. Students choosing the profession want to  bridge the gap between science and the practice of medicine through innovative research, development, and regulation of medications. In the last 2 years, Covid-19 has forced many countries to improve their medical care. Many countries are now doing research in pharmacology and encouraging students to choose this field. This field of medicine has immense potential in future which means that more jobs and professions will be created related to pharmacology.