Frequently asked questions

Q A illustration

Here you will find answers to the questions we are often asked by students. If you want to know something that isn't covered on the website, please send us your query and we will try to answer it.


How much would I earn in the pharmaceutical industry?

The people profiled on this site earn anything from about £15,000 (for an industrial placement student) up to well over £100,000. A new graduate is likely to start on around £22,000 to £25,000. Someone coming in with a PhD would start on a higher salary.

On top of the salary, companies often have a bonus scheme and offer share options, health insurance, subsidised gym and other sports facilities, childcare and other benefits. Some jobs have a company car, mobile phone and computer equipment for use at home and all offer good pension schemes.

How long must I study to become a ......?

Although many of the jobs in the pharmaceutical industry require you to have a degree, which will take at least 3 years of studying, it is sometimes possible to study for a degree part time whilst working. Several of the people profiled on this site started work after GCSEs or A levels (or equivalent). Find out what  Vicky, Marie, Louise, Craig and Dilly think about studying whilst employed.

How can I get work experience?

Companies often offer work experience to students who live locally. This may be through an industry day for local schools, short placements of a week or two for students in Year 11 or 12, or there may be opportunities for a summer holiday placement. Information on which companies in your area might be able to help, search the Pharmaceutical recruiters section of this site.

I am a Year 10 Student and have always had an interest in science (and in particular chemistry), can I get work experience?

It is likely that you will not be able to get any experience in a pharmaceutical company until you are at least 16; many companies restrict places to students in Year 12.

You could, however learn more about jobs in industry using science by, for example, applying to attend a Salter's Chemistry Camp. These are held towards the end of the summer term and in the summer holidays, for students at the end of Year 10. You can find out more details at their website at

I am hoping to gain some work experience during my time at school/college. Would it be possible for me to organise a placement through your organisation?

Our organisation does not have the infrastructure to organise work experience on behalf of others, please refer to the Pharmaceutical recruiters section of the website for details on companies that you can contact directly

I am currently a sixth form student and have been trying to get some work experience. Unfortunately, it has been quite difficult and I would be very grateful if you could recommend some companies or contacts that I could apply for work experience with.

We know that getting work experience can be difficult, especially in an area where there are few industrial companies.

In response, a page has been created on the website on work experience for school and college students. We suggest a couple of things, but one which we will draw to your attention is the Nuffield Bursary scheme.

You would do a Nuffield Bursary in the summer before starting in Year 13. Universities, as well as industry, get involved in this scheme. It might be worth seeing what is available locally.

Even if you can't get work experience now, if you choose a university course which includes an opportunity to spend time working in industry - often these are 4 year courses leading to an MSci degree - you will have a great opportunity to find out what jobs are available and what you might like to do. Pharmaceutical companies mainly recruit people who have had this sort of experience - especially for research and development roles.

Do I have to be a pharmacist to work in the pharmaceutical industry?

Definitely not! There are pharmacists working in the industry - in all areas from research to marketing - but there are also lots of people who have studied chemistry, biological sciences, engineering, statistics, medicine and lots of non science subjects.

Some people started work in the industry straight from school and have done an NVQ and BTEC, or other qualification, on day release. Some go on to do a degree, or even a PhD.

My current grades are (for example) Cs and Bs. Will I be able to get into (for example) pharmacy?

We cannot supply individual career guidance, however please refer to the relevant sections on our careers website. We also strongly suggest that you speak to your school or college careers service for individually tailored career advice.



Case study

Pharmacist (pre-registration)

John, Pharmacist (pre-registration), working in a laboratoryI have been surprised by the number of pharmacists I have come across, they are literally everywhere from discovery to marketing.