Pharmacologists typically use their scientific knowledge to create drugs and do testing on drugs which could potentially prevent, treat, or cure diseases. Pharmacology work might also entail testing potentially harmful chemicals or studying the effects of these chemicals on lab animals. To become a pharmacologist, you generally will need a college degree, a post-graduate degree, and internship experience in a pharmacology-related setting.
In order to become a pharmacologist, it is helpful to get a college degree in biology, chemistry, or math. Those majors enable you to meet the requirements to apply for graduate training in pharmacology. Keep in mind, however, that getting into graduate school can be competitive so getting good grades in college is important.
Generally, it is recommended that you apply for graduate school in pharmacology during the last semester of college. The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in pharmacology is generally recommended for anyone who wants to become a pharmacologist. Granted, you may also want to get a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree if you wish to improve your credentials and be eligible to conduct clinical testing on humans in addition to performing other pharmacology activities.
The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in pharmacology will typically include coursework such as pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, experimental design, and scientific ethics. Getting a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree will usually require coursework such as clinical medicine, anatomy, disease mechanisms, histology, and cell structure. These courses will give you the academic background that you need to succeed in a pharmacology career.
During graduate school, participation in a pharmacology internship can be important because the internship will give you specific knowledge of how to function on the job in a pharmacology setting while also helping to enhance your resume. The career services department at your college can usually provide assistance in your search for an internship. Also, talking with your graduate school professors in pharmacology and conducting online internship searches may be helpful for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that gaining experience on professor-supervised research while doing graduate work can improve your career prospects. For instance, participating in professor-supervised research can give you experience that you need to pursue a teaching career. Not all pharmacologists choose to become professors, but if you think you might be interested in teaching college at some point, participating in professor-supervised research can be very important.
After successful completion of the necessary academic training, you could become a pharmacologist who works in a university setting as a pharmacology professor. You could also seek a pharmacologist position in a pharmaceutical company or hospital. Alternatively, you could seek a government pharmacologist position.