Graduate pharmacists worst paid of all, survey shows, though with higher employment rates than other graduates
The median salaries for pharmacy graduates are just $50,000 per year – the overall lowest level for graduates of all professions, according to a new survey of graduate employment prospects.
But, in a cruel irony, pharmacy is also the profession where the most graduates are employed in their chosen field, with as many as 95% of graduates employed four months after graduation, the Federal Government Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) survey shows. This is down from 96.4% in the last survey.
The QILT Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS), which has been running since 2016, is based on graduate responses delivered in February and March this year, roughly four months after completion of their studies, but crucially for this iteration, three months before key states like NSW and Victoria went into their latest bouts of lockdowns.
Perhaps most disturbing for the profession was that the overall median salary across the board for graduates was $77,000, more than 50% higher than that in phamacy.
The survey showed the pharmacy median salary of $50,000 even fell below other careers historically renowned for their low remuneration levels, such as creative arts ($53,000), tourism, hospitality, personal services, sport and recreation ($54,900) and communications ($56,200).
The areas with the highest graduate salaries were dentistry at $100,000, medicine $76,000, social work $72,600, teacher education $72,000 and engineering $70,000.
On the issue of gender salary disparities, the report said broadly females were “more likely to graduate from study areas which receive lower levels of remuneration”.
But while “at the undergraduate level, females earn less overall than their male counterparts within most study areas” it noted that pharmacy, along with medicine, rehabilitation and engineering were exceptions “where female undergraduate median salaries are higher than or equal to their male counterparts”.
While a moderate percentage of graduates were already undertaking further study (12.6%), there was a high degree of satisfaction over the studies undertaken with 84.2% reporting positively.
“Undergraduates who had completed degrees in study areas with a strong vocational orientation tended, not surprisingly, to be less likely to proceed on to further full-time study,” it said.
The broader economic good news was that the pandemic has overall had little effect on overall job prospects for graduates, showing that close to 88.9 % of those available for a full-time job, managed to get one, a slight slip from the 90.1% figure from the same survey published last year.
Another noteworthy element of the study was that regional universities were outranking their capital city counterparts for full-time graduate employment.
Commenting on the report Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education Senator Bridget McKenzie suggested the more vocational skew of many regional universities was part of the reason for their higher success rate.
Comment was sought from the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association but there had been no response at time of writing.