A profession in demand

hand out for money - coins in palm

Demand for pharmacists has almost trebled, according to data from job site Indeed – but has this translated into a rise in pay?

The fastest growing jobs in Australia are in healthcare and pharmacists are top of the list, according to latest data from job site Indeed.

Demand for pharmacists almost trebled in 2019, with the number of job ads growing by nearly 180% last year, says Indeed.

Likewise pharmacy assistant jobs grew by almost 170% last year.

Assistants were generally sought after in all industries, with the cross-sector role seeing 101% growth.

Meanwhile advertised positions for mental health technicians, registered operating room nurses, support coordinators and midwives all grew by 50% or more.

The big jump in job listings started in 2016 and has been growing exponentially ever since, say Sue Muller, director of pharmacy recruitment specialists LocumCo.

“According to my figures … the number is certainly rising,” says Ms Muller.

Business Insider Australia adds that the healthcare sector has enjoyed 3.2% annual pay rises on average compared to 2.2% in other sectors.

Has this wage growth been seen across the pharmacy industry?

“This is definitely having an impact on rates of pay. This is particularly evident with locum rates as the locums are now dictating the rates of pay they would consider accepting,” says Ms Muller.

“Any owner who offers a low rate of pay as they may have done three years ago will not receive any applicants.

“Permanent positions are also listing roles at higher rates of pay in the attempt to attract candidates in a market where candidates are in short supply.”

In December 2018, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) issued a decision finding that there was an increase in work value associated with the introduction of HMRs and RMMRs that “justified a discrete adjustment to award remuneration by means of the introduction of a new allowance”.

It also decided at the time that there had been “an increase in the work value of pharmacists since 1998 in respect of the introduction of inoculations, the provisions of emergency contraception, the downscaling of medicines to pharmacy-only status, and a general increase in the level of responsibility and accountability”.

The FWC followed this up with a decision to provide a 5% increase to pharmacists’ pay – and another 10% for those undertaking HMRs and RMMRs.

This 5% increase was introduced in two equal instalments of 2.5% from 1 July 2019 – in addition to the 3% increase arising from the Annual Wage Review 2018-9 – and 2.5% from 1 October 2019.

From 1 October 2019, an employee classified as a Pharmacist, Experienced Pharmacist, Pharmacist in Charge or Pharmacist Manager who is required by the employer to perform HMRs or RMMRs has been required to be paid an allowance of $106.40 per week.

According to the 2018 UTS Pharmacy Barometer released in May last year, more pharmacists are now earning between $40 and $50 per hour, and fewer pharmacists are earning less than $30 per hour.

Figures of pharmacist salaries vary across job advertising sites.

According to Indeed data, the average pharmacist salary across Australia is $43.03 per hour ($89,502 per year).

However according to PayScale the average pharmacist salary across Australia is just $33.23 per hour ($69,118 per year).

Based on Glassdoor data, the average annual base pay for pharmacists is $76,977.

This climbs up to an average of $90,286 per year for “clinical pharmacist” jobs advertised on Indeed.

PSA has called for minimum salary for general pharmacist registration of $80,000-$100,000, rising with each level of experience to an upper band of $140,000 and above for pharmacists with more than five years’ experience in a defined area of practice.

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