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.

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