Stagnant pay levels still a concern

In the first of a series analysing the findings of the 2017 UTS Pharmacy Barometer, Professor Charlie Benrimoj looks at pharmacists’ attitudes to pay levels

Remuneration is a hot-button issue for employed pharmacists. This is not just for those who own or work in community pharmacies but those looking to commit to seven years of study and professional placement to graduate as qualified pharmacists.

The latest UTS Community Pharmacy Barometer was released at the end of 2017. Now in its seventh “wave”, the Barometer assesses the relative health of the industry, its profitability and how pharmacists feel about certain important issues. It also tests for pharmacists’ levels of confidence for the future.

One of the more revealing recent results has been the stagnation and low level of pharmacist remuneration. For the past two surveys, almost seven in 10 pharmacists reported their pay levels have not changed over the previous 12 months.

For the very few employee pharmacists whose remuneration increased between 2016  and 2017, almost all went from earning $30-40 per hour to $40-50 per hour. Overall, the Barometer showed that more than 90% of employee pharmacists earned between just $30 and $50 per hour. There appears to be a slight upward trend in wages but no change for the majority.


Clearly, there is no shortage of qualified staff available to work in community pharmacies. Australian universities produce enough pharmacists to satisfy demand. But many of those graduates, as well as those who have been in the industry for some time, will question if they are not being paid enough to justify the valuable work they do in the community.


Ultimately, this may lead to widespread job dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction will have negative implications for owners and the profession because it could become more difficult to attract the best people. Universities need, for the long-term benefit of the profession and patients, to attract the best students and ensure they aren’t producing enough graduates but the right graduates.


The Barometer suggests a pathway to success. Pharmacists are increasingly becoming accustomed to the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) and this stability is injecting a sense of confidence in their economic and professional future. About 58% of owners believe the value of their pharmacy will increase or remain steady over the next 12 months. Should they now be sharing some of this prosperity with employees?

With a greater emphasis on delivering quality professional services under 6CPA, community pharmacies could discover even greater financial success.

Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj is head, Graduate School of Health and Professor of Pharmacy Practice, University of Technology Sydney

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  1. Philip Smith

    Values of pharmacies are different to the turnover and more importantly profit of the pharmacy.
    Location rules and demand outstripping supply drives the value up and won’t increase wages.
    Payment for services, dispensing more scripts or selling more “stuff” increases turnover and hopefully profit which is what you can pay staff more for.

    • GlassCeiling

      Look at pharmacies for sale and assess rent. Most pharmacies 200- 900k rent + outgoings – rent often 50% GP. Finance plus rent means no money to pay staff- this is a crisis . Staff must come before rent and until location rules are removed they never will.

      • Jarrod McMaugh

        50% of GP?

        How exactly are they still afloat?

        • GlassCeiling

          I imagine that’s why they are for sale! Making a loss and trying to sell up before the next 5% anniversary .

          If rents were reasonable perhaps we would not have to sell toilet paper , toothpaste and perfume / cologne.

          1st year teachers making as much money as most employee pharmacists = crisis

  2. Bluebottle

    It’s hard for owners to focus on increasing wages when their income has plummeted for six consecutive years with EAPD.

    • Paul Sapardanis

      Plus aggressive discounting

    • Bryan Soh

      Decreasing profit margins does not justify the exploitation and continued poor pay for pharmacists. Although I do not agree with the government’s policy of EAPD, the retail pharmacy industry did itself no favours with fraudulent practices regarding underhanded price agreements with drug manufacturers. This has led to decades of complacency, and a lack of innovation due to easy profits. Now that the rug has been swept from under the table, the whole industry is paying the ultimate price. You don’t evolve, you die. simple as that

  3. Cogrady

    There aren’t that many owners anymore.The landscape has changed forever.When you go before Aphra there is no one to assist a casual pharmacist. The Guild, PSA,AACP,SHPA won’t even though you have spent thousands of dollars over your career and you can get more money helping people in the home aka hireup .The actual implications of my health records are huge as when you are doing your 200 to 400 scripts a day and you are praying that your pharmacy assistant is picking and scanning correctly ,you may now have a legal responsibility to stop and look up my health records about recent hospital visits and specialist letters on an Embrel script where you are losing money by touching it for your employer. Our wages and conditions are a joke

  4. Bryan Soh

    This is a very dire situation. I know many pharmacists who have the brains and potential to achieve great things wasting away in sweatshop like conditions of community pharmacy. All this to just make ends meet. Many of them could be great contributors in other professions that pay well ie medicine, dentistry, banking etc. but just cannot exit due to various reasons, or are hanging on to the hope that weathering the storm will be worth it. I wont be surprised if there is a hidden epidemic of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in community pharmacy. Sad times indeed…

  5. Amandarose

    If you leave the city pays are going up. As a locum I now get $15 dollars more this year then last. I live 1.5 hrs from Sydney airport and on the coast so not exactly in the sticks. We have a massive shortage of pharmacists in my area so inevitably pay had gone up.

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