How To Become A Pharmacologist In Australia: Explained

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Students want to know how they can become pharmacologists in Australia.


Does science, medicine, drug therapies and pharmaceuticals fascinate you? If yes, a career as a Pharmacologist could be ideal for you.


Pharmacologists research chemical compounds and substances to develop new medications, treatments, and therapies. They also analyse the impact of harmful chemicals on the body, such as the nervous and cardiovascular systems.


To become a pharmacologist in Australia, you must complete a bachelor's degree in biomedical, medical, or pharmaceutical science. Obtain a fellowship with The Royal Australasian College of Physicians to become accredited and work as a registered pharmacologist.


In this blog, you will learn how to become a pharmacologist in Australia, including what they do, the skills they need, qualifications, training, salary, and what courses they study to pursue this career.



1. What Is Pharmacology?


Pharmacology is the branch of medicine that studies the impact of drugs on biological systems and the body's response to the drug.


It is a science concerned with drug use, impact, and mechanism. The field encompasses the drug's sources, biological effects, chemical properties, and healing applications.



2. What Are Pharmacologists?


Pharmacologists are medical scientists and researchers specialising in studying, developing, and testing medications and chemical compounds.


They work with researchers and medical experts to learn the effectiveness of medications and their interaction with other medicines to develop the best drug therapies for illnesses.



3. What Does A Pharmacologist Do?


Pharmacologists may perform the following tasks and duties:


  • Study to determine the impact of chemical compounds on the body

  • Perform research to standardise doses of a drug

  • Study or develop new medications to treat a specific condition

  • Run tests and diagnostics

  • Examine the interactions between different types of medications

  • Prepare research grants

  • Analyse data obtained from studies and clinical trials

  • Set up and conduct controlled experiments

  • Test drugs on human cells in labs and via experimental trials

  • Use complex measuring systems and equipment to gather, analyse and interpret data. 

  • Assess the quality of medicine production

  • Maintain lab equipment

  • Perform academic research

  • Share the research findings by publishing papers and attending conferences.

  • Prepare scientific reports and make suggestions based on experiments and research findings.

  • Use the research conclusions to develop manufacturing processes and new products. 

  • Understand the undesired or harmful impacts of drugs 

  • Communicate with national and overseas regulatory authorities

  • Identify errors in medication charts available in hospitals.

  • Prepare and distribute medications.

  • Oversee a team of technicians, including pharmacy students or interns, who are involved in the different stages of a research trial

  • Explain to patients about the working of medications and the right way to consume them

  • Visit homes or patients' to review medication. 

  • Promote health awareness

  • Change the chemical composition of a substance to nullify harmful side effects.

  • Study substances that impact living organisms, such as poisons, insecticides, and pollutants

  • Provide clinical advice to politicians, managers, healthcare workers, primary producers, and the public



4. Required Skills For Pharmacologists


Pharmacologists need extensive technical skills to work in sensitive situations, perform research and apply science. 


They also need soft skills to work well with others and carry out tasks efficiently. 


Here are the most relevant skills to pursue a career in pharmacology:



Technical Skills


  • Knowledge of biology and chemistry

  • Knowledge of lab procedures

  • A strong background in maths, science, and statistics

  • Capable of operating medical equipment and machinery for research works

  • Computer literacy skills



Soft Skills


  • Able to think analytically and logically  

  • Able to conduct accurate and detailed work

  • An aptitude for research

  • Good communication skills

  • Creative 

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Critical thinking 

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills 

  • Able to solve issues

  • Teamworking skills

  • An inquisitive nature

  • Able to gather, analyse, and understand large amounts of medical data

  • Mindfulness

  • Innovative approach

  • Precision

  • Attention to detail

  • Observation skills



5. Required Qualifications To Become A Pharmacologist In Australia


  1. Gain your HSC/ACT Year 12 Certificate of Education in one or more subjects such as English, biology, human biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and Earth and environmental science 

  2. Complete an undergraduate pharmacologist degree in biomedical science, pharmaceutical science, medical science, or science majoring in pharmacology

  3. Though optional, applicants can also complete a 2-year full-time postgraduate degree - Master of Pharmacy or Master of Clinical Pharmacy. 

  4. Undertake the Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Training Program to become a fellow of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians and obtain accreditation to practice as a Clinical Pharmacologist in Australia



6. Steps To Become A Pharmacologist In Australia?


Here is a stepwise guide to help you get started in an entry role as a pharmacologist:



Step 1: Complete A Bachelor Degree


Your professional journey begins with completing a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical science, biomedical science, medical science, or a Bachelor of Science majoring in pharmacology.


The degree provides an excellent foundation in pharmacy, medicinedentistry, and medical research. It prepares students for a career in pharmacology, drug research, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical.


However, to be accepted in such a course, you must complete your secondary school education in English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. 


As the prerequisites for a degree course may vary from one university to another, it is best to check the university websites to gain clarity.



Step 2: Become A Fellow Of the RACP


Graduates with an undergraduate degree are eligible to apply for a fellowship with The Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to become accredited. It is a mandatory requirement to start practising as a pharmacologist in Australia.


To become a fellow of RACP, you must complete their Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Training Program. Once completed, you become a member of their organisations and get access to a broader learning resource throughout your pharmacology career.



Step 3: Complete A Post Graduate Degree


A two-year master's degree, such as a Master of Pharmacy or Master of Clinical Pharmacy, is a must if you want to specialise in your area of interest in Pharmacology.


The available options for specialisation include the following:


  • Clinical Pharmacologists

  • Toxicologists

  • Neuropharmacologists

  • Immunopharmacologists 



6. Pharmacology Degrees In Australia


  • Bachelor of Science (Pharmacology) – The University of Melbourne

  • Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) (Pharmacology) – University of Western Australia

  • Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Pharmacology) – University of Western Australia

  • Bachelor Of Pharmacology And Toxicology – Griffith University

  • Bachelor of Science (Pharmacology) – The University of Sydney

  • Master of Pharmacy – The University of Sydney

  • Master of Pharmacy – The University of Western Australia

  • Master of Pharmacy - UTS

  • Master of Pharmacy- Griffith University

  • Master of Clinical Pharmacy – The University of South Australia

  • Master of Clinical Pharmacy – Monash University

  • Master of Clinical Pharmacy - UTAS

  • Master of Clinical Pharmacy – The University of Queensland 



7. Pharmacologist Vs Pharmacist


Pharmacists and pharmacologists might sound similar but distinct in their daily work. 


Let's discover more about these professions and what makes them different.





It is the science of the preparation and synthesis of medicines and their precise compounding and dispensing to provide therapeutic effects to eliminate adverse effects of a disease.


It is a vast domain that comprises "pharmacology" as one of its subfields. The other ones include:


  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry

  • Pharmacy Practice

  • Pharmaceutics

  • Pharmacognosy


Pharmacist is responsible for a variety of tasks that covers each aspect of medicine, such as:


  • Origin, design, stability, formulation, manufacturing process, transportation, packaging, techniques and equipment, sterilisation, and storage conditions of drug

  • Herbal medicine

  • Resolution of errors in the drug manufacturing process 

  • The technology used in the delivery of medicines

  • Toxicology





It is a branch of medicine involved in the drug's effects, mechanism of action, uses, and side effects. It is not as broad as a pharmacy but requires more professional skills and work experience. It deals with drugs and their impact on the body.


Being a Pharmacologist is a responsible role, as any slight mistake can be life-threatening to a patient. Due to this, professionals need to have in-depth information about medicinal drugs. Some of the areas of their focus are:


  • Research and test new medications

  • Evaluate pharmacologist studies

  • Identify the right drug to cure a specific disease.

  • Determine the appropriate combination of drugs 

  • Determine the correct dosage of the drug 

  • Prepare the correct prescription based on the patient's medical history.

  • Understand the chemical interaction of a drug with other drugs, probable side effects, and contradictions of the use of the drug

  • Consult with specialists and physicians


Besides work duties, both professionals also differ based on the settings where they are employed. As pharmacologists focus more on the science of medicine, they majorly work in the:


  • Laboratories

  • Research Centres

  • Healthcare environments

  • Academic institutions


On the other hand, Pharmacists focus on the manufacture, analysis, and formulation of the drugs, to ensure the drug quality and stability. They work in:


  • Retail Pharmacy

  • Community Pharmacy

  • Pharma Engineering companies

  • Quality Control And Quality Assurance Departments in Pharma companies  

  • Management department in the Pharma industry

  • Academics



8. How To Become A Clinical Pharmacologist?


You will need a formal education to become a Clinical Pharmacologist in Australia. Consider completing a 4-year full-time Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) / Bachelor of Pharmacy and Management (Honours) at a recognised university.


Complete the Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Training Program to become a fellow of the Australasian College of Physicians and become accredited to practising pharmacology.


You can further improve your job prospects by completing a Master of Pharmacy Practice and gaining work experience as Research Assistant. Your previous career experience as Associate Scientist or Doctoral Fellow can be beneficial.



9. What Is Advanced Training In Clinical Pharmacology?


Before working as a Clinical Pharmacologist in Australia, you need to become accredited. For this, you must complete the Advanced Training in Clinical Pharmacology and become a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.


The programs offer supervised specialised training in the relationship between humans and drugs. This in-depth training involves developing skills through work-based learning and using assessment tools. 


After completing the three years of full-time training, you are ready to work as a consultant and run your independent practice.



Entry Requirements


  • Completed RACP Basic Training, including Clinical and Written Examinations

  • Hold a valid and current medical registration

  • Have been appointed to a suitable Advanced Training position


By becoming a Fellow in active practice in Australia, you must fulfil the yearly CPD requirements to keep your accreditation active.



10. Working Conditions For Pharmacologists


Pharmacists spend most of their time in a lab environment for standard business hours. 


They may require working longer hours when involved in clinical trials or experiments. Those employed in a university or a research institute often work additional hours regularly.


Pharmacologists may occasionally require travelling to conduct fieldwork or attend conferences or scientific meetings. They work closely with suppliers and pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry.


While working in a laboratory, they mostly wear protective clothing to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals.



11. Where Does A Pharmacologist Work In Australia?


Registered Pharmacologists can find work opportunities across several industries that, include:


  • The pharmaceutical industry in drug development, clinical trials, or regulatory affairs

  • Scientific research lab or crime lab 

  • Industrial/Commercial Pharmaceutical manufacturing firms

  • Academic institutions to research, teach or publish books

  • Community pharmacy

  • Hospital Pharmacy 

  • Drug safety officer or poisons specialist

  • Pharmaceutical companies and other health services


Some Pharmacologists work as consultants, researchers, or regulatory affairs associates for government and non-government organisations.



The Most Common Pharmacology Jobs In Australia Are:




12. Areas of Specialisation


Based on their interests, experienced Pharmacologists can consider specialising in the following areas:


  • Pharmacologists evaluate the origin, impact, and working mechanism of drugs and develop them for human and animal use.


  • Clinical Pharmacologists are specialists who offer direct care to patients with many medical issues and are often under multiple medications.


  • Non-clinical Pharmacologists: They specialise in research and experimental studies to identify the right drugs and develop them to treat a wide range of diseases.


  • Toxicologists study the impact of drugs and combinations of drugs on the various parts of the body. They help companies labelling, safely handle, and safely store manufactured substances.


  • Neuropharmacologists: These professionals study how drugs interact with the nervous system and brain and develop medications to treat behavioural disorders and mental illnesses.


  • Immunopharmacologists: They study and develop various treatments and medications for the immune system, such as chemotherapy medicines.



13. How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Pharmacologist?


You can become a pharmacologist by completing a three-year full-time bachelor's degree. Next, register with FRACP and complete the training program to get accredited.


However, many pharmacologists also earn a two-year postgraduate degree to gain specialised skills and improve their job prospects. Thus, becoming an accredited pharmacologist in Australia can take 3 to 5 years.



14. How Much Do Pharmacologists Earn In Australia?


Due to their advanced education and skills, pharmacologists earn a generous salary. The average pharmacologist's salary in Australia is AU$90,000.


A pharmacologist's salary varies based on various parameters, such as:


  • Level of education and experience

  • Area of specialty

  • The demand for their skills

  • Work location


Pharmacologists with a postgraduate degree earn more than those with a bachelor's qualification. The salary of an intern or junior-level employee can be low but increases with experience and expertise.


Highest paying cities for pharmacologists:


  • Melbourne, Victoria: AU$98,264

  • Average pharmacologist salary in Sydney, New South Wales: AU$80,000



15. Career Outlook For Pharmacologists


Progressions in medical technology and the growing importance of medications to treat physical and mental problems create stable job growth in the industry.


Furthermore, a growing elderly population increases pharmaceutical dependency, enabling more spending on medicine and rising demand for pharmacologists.


The Australian government predicts robust employment growth for pharmacologists. There is an increased demand for pharmacologists.


The employment of pharmacologists is estimated to grow about as quickly as the average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028. Those who wish to pursue a career in pharmacology will find plenty of opportunities for advancement.


Factors that will dictate the overall demand for pharmacologists in Australia are requirements for medicine, government funding for research, and the market for pharmaceutical products.



16. Alternate Career Options For Pharmacologists


A pharmacologist with relevant job skills and experience can work in similar areas in this field. Some of these include:


  • Epidemiologist: Studies the reason and evolution of disease outbreaks


  • Biochemist: Studies the composition and working of cells and tissues and their behaviour toward different types of drugs


Outside the laboratory, a pharmacologist can look for job opportunities in communications, marketing, sales, patent law, teaching, or consulting.



17. Conclusion


Pharmacologists play a vital contribution to the healthcare system. 


It can be an exciting and rewarding career option for those who wish for a meaningful career with continuing growth potential.


Whether you choose to work in a hospital, pharmacy, or a government agency or contribute to academia and research, you are likely to earn a good living doing something you enjoy.


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