Pharmacy grads get the lowest salaries

Pharmacy graduates are highly likely to land a job – but it won’t be a high-paying one, new data shows

The 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey, which looks at how graduates of various university courses fare when it comes to labour market outcomes, further studies and pay, has just been released, and pharmacy does not fare well in terms of pay.

The salary outlined only pertains to the compulsory internship year when it comes to pharmacy graduates.

The GOS, funded by the Education Department and published on the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website, was conducted largely as a national online survey among 109 higher education institutions.

A total of 132,178 valid survey responses were collected across all study levels, representing a response rate of 44.2%.

The GOS found that in 2019, 72.2% of undergraduates were in full-time employment four months after completing their degree, down a little from 72.9% in the previous year. The overall employment rate for undergraduates was 86.8% in 2019, down slightly from 87% in 2018.

It found that undergraduates from “more vocationally oriented study areas,” tend to have greater success in the labour market immediately after graduation.

Pharmacy topped this list, with 95.7% of graduates finding full-time work – followed by rehabilitation graduates, at 92.4%; medicine, at 91.1%; and dentistry, at 86.2%.

Those who earned “more generalist” degrees did not fare as well, with only 52.9% of creative arts students and 56.4% of tourism, hospitality, personal services, sport and recreation graduates finding full-time employment.

However, these degrees were more likely to earn their recipients more than a pharmacy graduate.

As well as having the highest full-time work prospects, pharmacy graduates earned the lowest salaries, at $48,000.

Tourism, hospitality, personal services, sport and recreation jobs earned $50,000, creative arts $52,000, communication $54,300 and veterinary science, $55,000.

This compared to $73,100 for medicine, $62,000 for nursing and $88,200 for dentists.

The survey also found that the gender gap in graduate salaries has persisted over time – though in pharmacy, it’s not evident in pharmacy, with both genders earning the same $48,000.

Overall, the gender gap in undergraduate median salaries was $3,200 or 4.9% in 2019. For those earning  postgraduate coursework salaries, women earned $15,000 or 19.2% lower in 2009 in comparison with a gap of $13,700 or 14.4%in 2019.

The gender gap in postgraduate research graduate salaries has declined over time falling from $3,000 or 4.3% in 2009 to $2,000 or 2.2% in 2019.

“The gender gap in salaries is explained, in part, by the fact that females are more likely to graduate from study areas which receive lower levels of remuneration,” the survey noted.

“However, it is also the case that at the undergraduate level females earn less overall than their male counterparts within most study areas.

“The study areas which exhibit the highest gaps between male and female salaries include Architecture and built environment with a gap between male and female salaries of $10,000, law and paralegal studies, $6,300 creative arts, $4,800, psychology, $4,700 and dentistry $4,500.  

“Communications, social work and pharmacy were the exceptions where female undergraduate median salaries are higher than or equal to their male counterparts.”

Earlier this year the employee pharmacists’ union, PPA, released a report into pay for pharmacists, which showed a mean hourly rate of $24.50 for interns; $32.77 for pharmacists; $37.73 for experienced pharmacists; $37.76 for pharmacists in charge; and $39.35 for pharmacist managers.

The mean base salary for a community pharmacist was $76,333, and for a hospital pharmacist, $88,214.

This rose to $93,000 (community) and $102,233 (hospital) for an experienced pharmacist; pharmacists-in-charge in community pharmacies earned $88,967, and pharmacist managers $92,289. Meanwhile directors of pharmacy in hospitals earned $136,250.

Previous Measles in metro areas
Next Research Roundup

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. patrick Mahony

    Pharmacy classification need to be reviewed
    Experienced Pharmacist
    Pharmacist in Charge
    Pharmacist Manager

    The internship is a specific term which limits roles and responsibilities. It is finalised once the intern completes all the conditions stipulated by the board.
    Pharmacist Vs Experienced Pharmacist is measured solely in years, not skills not actual “documented” experience. There is no recognition of skills training within the profession.
    Every pharmacy must have a “Pharmacist in Charge” at all times the pharmacy is opened. The problem is the definition of the role has not changed. A pharmacist in charge must be responsible for the pharmacy not just the dispensary. This needs to be a recognised skill. The “pharmacy” includes all medicines (scheduled and unscheduled), all staff who are involved in handling (sales/merchandising/advising) these products both directly and indirectly as well as any customer issues related to the sale of these products, whilst on duty.
    There is no maximum number of staff, prescription volume or range of services that a pharmacist in charge is responsible for.
    When a “pharmacist in charge” is off the floor a deputy/acting position may be appointed.
    When(if) a shift change over occurs or at the end of day, the Pharmacist in Charge has a “hand-over” process to document and transfer responsibility should occur.
    Currently the “Pharmacist-in-Charge” position pay rate is less than 0.1% above that of an experienced pharmacist, however legally they take all the responsibility.
    The Pharmacy Manager position assumes all the responsibilities of the Pharmacist in Charge PLUS all the business elements.
    This would change the dynamic of certain business models and would provide staff pharmacists with a clear career pathway.
    Base Rate Increase%
    Pharmacist $32.77
    Experienced Pharmacist $37.73 15.14%
    Pharmacist in Charge $43.50 15.29%
    Pharmacist Manager $50.00 14.94%

    • Mimimomo

      Good luck with that, if you are BAME they will squeeze you even more. We are just second rate. Even at work, if you are BAME the assistant will gang up on you and in the end you lose your job. Ask for a pay rise, there will tell you to find another job because they cannot afford it but when my Caucasian got a lot better deal compare to me. I do feel that i do a lot more at work, but pay less than others and on a public holiday, if i don’t work i don’t get paid which makes me angry when other staff get paid. My rate are fixed on a public holiday and the assistant get more than me on a public holiday. Is a joke being a pharmacist. It makes me feel like we employee pharmacist need to support deregulation so that all owner need to work too and a normal employee pharmacist can buy a job for them self buy opening a pharmacy of their own. i see some owner work their pharmacist to the bone and treat them worst than the pharmacist assistant or dispensary assistant. I do experience it myself too. Is sad what have become to this once a great profession.

      • TALL POPPY

        I have spoken to several pharmacists that feel discriminated against due to being BAME. Not open racisim of course but not receiving the same opportunities as ‘white’ aussies from like employers. Also, yes assistants victimising BAME pharmacists is something that has cropped up. Pharmacy isn’t a great industry to be in once you start peeling back the layers and uncovering the truth it appears! Would be interesting to see if AJP will do a poll of some sort. Especially in ownership even though they have been clearly superior performers in their work. Interesting.

        • I do a bit of advocacy work in the multicultural space and this is a common occurrence. Both the employer and the employee have a role to play to eliminate this cultural bias. Cultural awareness is an important skill in the modern workplace, and the astute employer will identify employees from BAME backgrounds and differentiate from “lack of competence” vs “cultural nuance”. Employers should give the latter further opportunities to develop into the type of leader they want them to be in their workplace.

          The BAME employee needs to equally self-evaluate the skills or attributes that may be lacking to take them to the next level in the Australian workplace. A common example are people from Asian backgrounds who may work hard but may lack the “soft skills” to progress. Knowing your rights and where to find support such as the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Race Discrimination Commission will also help your cause.

          If anyone wants further information please do not hesitate to contact.

Leave a reply