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Pharmacists are an essential part of healthcare. You’ll be the first line of defence against illness, using your unique knowledge on the safe use of medicines and dispensing medical advice to members of the public.

Average salary ranges

The average pharmacist salary in the UK is £48,254. Exact salaries differ depending on your location and the type of business you work for – the NHS compared to the private sector, for example.

NHS pharmacist salaries in the UK usually start at the health service’s band six, which means a pharmacist’s starting salary will amount to:

  • £32,306 for less than two years' experience

  • £34,172 for two to five years’ experience

  • £39,027 for five or more years of experience.

With training and additional learning, UK hospital pharmacist salaries rise steadily through each band. Once they progress to band seven, they can start earning:

  • £40,057 for less than two years’ experience

  • £42,121 for two to five years’ experience

  • £45,839 for five or more years of experience.

More experienced pharmacists can progress up to band nine, becoming a chief pharmacist and earning £93,735 with five years or less of experience. Once they have five or more years’ experience, public sector pharmacists can earn up to £108,075.

In the private sector, Boots pharmacist salaries average £37,990, ranging from £19,000 to £58,000. Lloyds Pharmacy pays an hourly rate of around £9 for assistants and dispensers, with this rising to £19 per hour for managers and qualified pharmacists.

Locum pharmacist salaries vary the most because they can work in a hospital, clinic or GP surgery, or in independent pharmacies and chains. In 2021, the UK average rate was £28 per hour.

Private sector average salaries can differ by location; while pharmacist salaries in London currently range from £60,450 to £78,000, average salaries in Scotland are between £60,450 and £111,150, according to Reed data.

Roles and responsibilities of a pharmacist

A pharmacist has a responsibility to ensure:

  • the quality of medicines supplied to patients

  • the supply of medicines is within the law

  • the medicines prescribed to patients are suitable.

Pharmacists must also advise patients about medicines, including how to take them and what reactions might occur, as well as answering any other questions.

Most pharmacists will be required to work at least 37.5 hours a week and this will likely cover weekend shifts. In the NHS, you may also be required to work on an on-call basis.

Qualifications/training required

Depending on whether you work in the private or public sector, the requirements for training and qualifications will vary. In the NHS, you will need a qualification from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to start at band six. Whereas a Boots Pharmacy has entry-level roles in which you can gain training.

According to the NHS, to become a pharmacist, you will be required to:

  • complete a five-year programme of academic and practice-based teaching

  • study for a master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm) at university in your first four years

  • complete a one-year paid work placement called a foundation training year

  • register with the GPhC and legally practice as a pharmacist.

Regular continuing professional development is required to keep up with the latest drug information, knowledge and skills, and to update your registration.

What are the benefits of being a pharmacist?

With a career in pharmacy, professionals have a range of options in their work – especially as a locum pharmacist, who can choose the environment they would prefer to work in. Being a pharmacist gives you a range of transferable skills which allows you to work in: a hospital, academia, a community pharmacy, the pharmaceutical industry and many more options.

For an NHS pharmacist, benefits include 27 days of annual leave days plus bank holidays, which increases after five years of service. You will also be entered into the NHS pension scheme – the contribution rate of which is between five percent and 14.5% depending on your pensionable pay.

In any sector, being a pharmacist gives you long-term job security and is an important role for the health of the UK public.

Professionals looking for UK salary benchmarking tools can download our salary guides now to get started.