Employment Prospects


Approximately 130,700 medical scientists, including pharmacologists, are employed in the United States. Pharmacologists work as faculty in medical, dental, veterinary, or pharmacy schools, and as researchers in large hospitals, medical centers, or research institutes. They also work for government agencies involved in research such as the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Starting Out

Drug companies, research organizations, medical, dental, and pharmacy schools and universities, and federal and state governments often recruit pharmacologists while they are in the process of earning their doctorates. By the second year of their doctoral program, most pharmacologists have chosen a subspecialty and seek out employers representing their chosen area. Graduates interested in pursuing a career in academia will often select a postdoctoral position.

A student's professors, particularly his or her thesis advisers, can provide guidance on potential employers. Pharmacology associations and online job posting Web sites can also provide a source for entry-level positions.

Additionally, visit the following Web sites for job listings: and

Advancement Prospects

Beginning pharmacologists work to improve their laboratory procedures, learn how to work with the Food and Drug Administration and various other government agencies, and gain experience testing drugs and other substances on both animal and human subjects. In research institutes, private industry, and academic laboratories, advancement in the field of pharmacology usually means moving into a supervising position, overseeing other scientists in a laboratory setting and heading up major research projects. Pharmacologists who work as professors advance by receiving tenure, serving as department heads, supervising research laboratories at universities, presenting public papers, and speaking at major conferences. Pharmacologists often view their advancements in terms of successful research projects.

Tips for Entry

Join the mentoring program available through the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics,

Set up an automated job search for pharmacology positions on a site such as to receive e-mails when positions open. This will provide useful information about what skills and experience employers are looking for.

Get a part-time or summer position in a lab to familiarize yourself with the profession.

Visit to view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's fellowship opportunities. This is an excellent way to gain experience in public health.

Visit for a list of biotechnology employers by state.