Difference Between Pharmacologist vs Pharmacist Explained

Pharmacology and pharmacy both are integral parts of the medical healthcare industry. A healthcare organization is incomplete without pharmacologists and pharmacists. The two terms might seem similar but the reality is that both are way different when it comes to the dynamics of work.

If you are considering pharmacology or pharmacy as a career, then it is advisable to check out the pros and cons of pharmacologist vs pharmacist in order to have a better understanding of both professions.

If you are planning to become a part of the medical industry but do not want to indulge in examining patients and surgeries, then either one of these professions would be ideal for you.

To have a better understanding of these vast fields, it is better to have a look at them in detail.

Pharmacologist vs pharmacist

In simple terms, a pharmacologist is a person who has the responsibility of developing the drugs that will be available on the market to be consumed by patients.

Whereas, a pharmacist is a person who dispenses out the prescribed medicines as well as guides patients and advises them on how to use the medications.

Job description of a pharmacist

Let’s have a look at both professions individually in detail now.


As stated above, a pharmacist has to provide assistance to the patients regarding the medications and their usage. A pharmacist can work independently in a clinical pharmacy, pharmacy, or any hospital or tertiary medical organization. The pharmacist is supposed to work in collaboration with other pharmacists, assistants, and technicians.

Pharmacists’ work is different in different working environments such as community pharmacies, independent pharmacies, hospitals, etc.

If a person wants to pursue a career as a pharmacist, he needs to do graduation to qualify. After completing graduation and then further studies in university, you have to learn the usage of drugs, actions and reactions of different drugs, therapeutic ways of treatment, and a lot more.

It is important for a pharmacist to attain a license from the relevant regulatory bodies before starting practicing it professionally. The license is obtained after passing the test but that is varied in different countries.

Depending upon the residential country, the person is required to take formal education in pharmacy in the form of bachelor of pharmacy, doctor of pharmacy, or master of pharmacy.

If we talk about the United States of America, it is a basic requirement that pharmacists must have a degree of doctor of pharmacy (Pharm. D) in order to be eligible to sit for the examination of license.

Job description of a pharmacist

A pharmacist’s job description includes

  • Supplying medicines to the patients
  • Make sure that the medicines prescribed are according to the law
  • The prescribed medicines will be suitable for the patient
  • Guiding the patients about the medicines
  • Performing different activities in the hospital related to medicines
  • Supervising the supply chain department
  • Advising the healthcare professional
  • Providing services apart from medicines to the patients
  • Assessing the quality maintenance of the medicines

Wherever a doctor prescribes a certain medicine to the patient, it is the pharmacist’s job to make sure that all the prescriptions are delivered to the patient properly. Filling prescriptions is one of the major roles of a pharmacist.

Apart from the above-mentioned role, it is also a pharmacist’s job to assist the patients whenever needed by providing them with correct guidance about the medications prescribed and their usage.

A pharmacist is supposed to maintain the records of the pharmacy such as (medication records, patient records, etc.). Apart from that, pharmacists are also supposed to teach the students about pharmacy and make customized medicines for patients.

It is mandatory in the United States of America for pharmacists to obtain a Pharm. D degree in order to sit in the examination for licensure.

The licensure exam is known as North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).


People often mix up pharmacologists with pharmacists but in reality, both are very different when it comes to duties and roles. A pharmacologist is a person who has the main job of searching the chemical processes of different drugs and understanding them completely before coming up with a new formula. It is the job of a pharmacologist to create, test, and develop new medicines.

If a person plans to pursue a career in pharmacology, then he needs to be a specialist in testing medicines. A pharmacologist, it is their task to research new medicines and drugs, consult with physicians and specialists, and evaluate them according to their pharmacological knowledge.

Pharmacology has different fields of specialization and branches. As the pharmacists’ job is to work in pharmacies, the pharmacologists are supposed to work in laboratories.

Job description of a pharmacologist

Pharmacologists work in laboratories as their main job is to research and understand different chemical processes and reactions while creating new formulae. They are supposed to further refer the formulated drugs to the scientists to make sure the drugs are effective and safe.

If you want to become a pharmacologist, you need to be an expert in conducting different research as well as studies regarding different branches of medications and related medical fields.

Most pharmacologists are supposed to have a degree of at least a Ph.D. in biology, chemistry, or any other relevant field of science.

Is it possible for a pharmacist to be a pharmacologist

The job description of a pharmacologist includes,

  • Conceiving new drug formulas
  • Conducting trials for new medicines
  • Building and creating new methods to assist medications
  • Reviewing and analyzing the clinical data.

Pharmacologists make life easier for pharmaceutical companies as they assist in making the drugs safe to be used by testing and developing new drug formulas.

Pharmacologists are supposed to work in an environment where they are required to conduct research extensively.

Once a person becomes a pharmacologist, he is not required to directly deal with customers or patients.

If a person wants to pursue a career as a pharmacologist, he needs to attain a minimum bachelor’s degree along with a doctorate degree in the same field. A doctorate degree in pharmacology becomes mandatory because it involves research-oriented tasks, therefore if a person has an educational background in relevant fields such as biology, chemistry, or toxicology, it will help immensely.

Also, a person should be ready to love research work as this is a major part of the job description of a pharmacologist.

Is it possible for a pharmacist to be a pharmacologist?

If someone is thinking about adopting both professions simultaneously then it is possible that he doesn’t have the correct understanding of what is meant by a pharmacologist or a pharmacist. Both are entirely different jobs from one another and the job descriptions are different as well.

If a person is planning to make any one of these a career then he should have a clear-cut idea about the job descriptions, responsibilities, and duties of both before choosing one as a career.

As a pharmacist, there are a lot of responsibilities and duties to be performed such as preparing the medications, dispensing the medications, reviewing all the orders, compounding the medications, and properly labeling and packaging the medicines before dispatching them.

It is also the job of a pharmacist to monitor different therapies of drugs.

On the other hand, the responsibilities of pharmacologists are conducting clinical trials for newly formulated medications, studying new formulas, and devising new methods of medicines while evaluating and reviewing the data.

To pursue a career in pharmacology, a person must have a doctorate degree in this field after studying it at the bachelor’s level.

If you are a pharmacist or a pharmacologist, and if you are thinking about whether a pharmacist can become a pharmacologist or the opposite? Well, the answer is NO.

A pharmacologist can never become a pharmacist and the same goes for the pharmacist who thinks they can become a pharmacologist.

It might be a possibility that because of quite similar names, they seem interchangeable but in reality, both are poles apart.

Differences and similarities between a pharmacologist and a pharmacist

To begin with, the education requirements are different for both fields, and so is the experience. Therefore, there is no way that a pharmacist can become a pharmacologist and vice versa.

The only similarity between a pharmacologist and a pharmacist is that they both require the same educational background, that is math and science but even then it is not possible to interchange both jobs.

In order to become a pharmacist, a person needs to get educated about the management of small businesses, management of medical therapies, and law. Apart from the mentioned ones, it is mandatory for a pharmacist to pass the examination for licensure in order to become a certified and licensed pharmacist.

On the other hand, pharmacologists need to study pharmacology in grave detail. They need to have knowledge about drugs, their reactions, and their actions on the human body. This is the study of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics which the pharmacologists are entitled to study in detail before starting operating as a professional pharmacologist. Pharmacists do not have this background or study this in detail.

Pharmacists are the healthcare professionals that are licensed to prescribe medications and drugs by the law but pharmacologists cannot prescribe any drug or medication as this doesn’t come in their job description.

To summarize, both professions are not interchangeable as they both have got their set of designated jobs that only they can perform. There might be similarities in work dynamics between a pharmacist and a pharmacologist but they can’t do the job with each other.

Do pharmacologists get paid better than pharmacists?

When someone is seriously considering the options to choose as a career, one of the most important things for consideration is the pay scale of that particular career. It is important to consider the payout scale and salary in detail so that you can assess whether the said profession will be fruitful as a career or not before investing your energy in it.

Pharmacologist vs pharmacist

Before considering the payout, it is also important to analyze whether you have enough expertise and interest in that particular field to select it as your career or not. Usually, it has been observed that only those individuals prosper in a field who have their personal interests attached to it.

For instance, if you have an avid interest in chemicals and drugs and want to work in a field that makes you research and then devise the formulae of any drug then pharmacology is the right field for you.

The payout in both fields largely depends upon skills, expertise, and experience.

On average, pharmacists are said to be making more money as compared to pharmacologists. But if you are great with research and your skills are top-notch then there is no way that you cannot earn more than a pharmacist while being a pharmacologist.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the average salary of a pharmacologist is about $99,013 whereas the average salary of $124,170. One of the reasons why pharmacists get paid more than pharmacologists is that becoming a licensed pharmacist is a very long and complex procedure. It takes about 8 years of education in the United States of America comprising four college years and four graduation years.

On the other hand, after completing the pharmacology degree, the next step of becoming a pharmacologist is complex. Just like pharmacy, you will have to pass a licensing exam. After getting a license, you can start working in the field of genetics, biochemistry, biology, or any similar field.

Final thoughts

Pharmacologists and pharmacists may appear to be similar but they are very different from each other in terms of the job description, requirement of skills, qualifications, and pay scale.

To summarize, pharmacists are mainly responsible for ensuring timely delivery of medicines to the patients as well as making sure that all the prescribed medicines are well within the law. On the other hand, pharmacologists are responsible for conducting trials for new medicines and drugs, creating new methods of studying medicines, and evaluating and reviewing relevant data.