How To Become A Pharmacist In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become a pharmacist in Australia and how long it takes.


Are you a dedicated person who wants to serve the people? Do you want to make a difference in society by pursuing a profession that is more than work? If yes, then a career in pharmacy is the right choice for you!


Dealing with patients and reviewing prescriptions requires dedication, patience, and hard work.


To become a pharmacist in Australia, you need a relevant qualification, such as a Bachelor of Pharmacy or Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours), to enter this profession. However, if you already hold an undergraduate degree, you can pursue a Master of Pharmacy as an alternative pathway.


The following article contains all the necessary information to become a successful pharmacist in Australia, including their salary, qualifications requirements, the steps required, how long it takes, and much more.



1. What Are Pharmacists?


A pharmacist is a vital healthcare professional who dispenses prescribed medications, offers guidance and counselling on drug usage, and provides information about potential side effects.


They play a crucial role in ensuring safe and effective medication use. Pharmacists offer essential primary healthcare services to patients.



2. What Do Pharmacists Do?


The typical duties of a pharmacist include:


  • Review drugs and prepare medications as per the doctor's prescription.

  • Check patients' medical histories.

  • Ensure optimal dosage and administration methods and drug compatibility before dispensing medicines.

  • Advise individuals on using medicines most effectively and safely.

  • Supervise the formulation and labelling of medications and drug therapies. 

  • Advise prescribers about prescription and over-the-counter medicines, the selection of medicines, safe dosage limit, interaction with different medications, and any side effects.

  • Work in the research and development of medicines and other health products. 

  • May manage pharmaceutical companies or pharmacies.

  • Provide vaccinations and other public health services.

  • Maintain prescription files and recorded poisons, narcotics, and habit-forming drug issues.

  • Store and preserve serums, vaccines, and other drugs to prevent deterioration.

  • Dispense non-prescription medicines and therapeutic and diagnostic aids. 

  • Coordinate with Pharmacy Technicians, Sales Assistants, and Interns

  • Test and analyse drugs to determine their purity and strength per specified standards.

  • Develop standards for pharmaceutical drugs. 



3. Key Skills of Pharmacists



  • Good Communication Skills: To become a pharmacist, you must have excellent communication skills as you interact with and advise the patient. You must communicate with the patient in a friendly way and advise them accordingly.


  • Patience: Becoming a pharmacist is a long process, so patience is the key. You should maintain patience under every circumstance. Usually, patients are already scared, so you should have ultimate patience to deal with every kind of patient.


  • Counselling: Becoming a pharmacist is a great responsibility as you counsel the patient about the medicines they are using. Furthermore, you also have to review their prescription to determine whether they are taking the correct dosage.


  • Analytical Skills: You need analytical skills in almost every field of pharmacy. Pharmacy students must evaluate claims, review prescriptions, and advise the patient. Good analytical skills help a pharmacist do their jobs quickly and effectively.


  • Attention To Detail: Attention to detail is the most critical skill-set because a pharmacist must view the prescription and determine whether the prescribed drugs are in the correct quantity. Further, you need to check whether the combination of medicines harms the patient. For this purpose, pharmacists must pay attention to every small detail.



4. Pharmacist Qualifications In Australia


  • You usually need a relevant qualification like a Bachelor of Pharmacy or Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) to work in this profession. Alternatively, if you already have an undergraduate degree, you can complete a Master of Pharmacy.

  • With relevant qualifications, apply for provisional registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

  • Complete an internship under the supervision of a registered Pharmacist. You must complete an Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) approved Intern Training Program during your internship.

  • Pass an oral and written exam to apply for general registration as a Pharmacist.



5. Steps To Become A Clinical Pharmacist In Australia


You can find below the complete steps on how to become a clinical pharmacist in Australia:



Step 1: Complete a University Degree


The first and most vital step is completing your university's pharmacy degree. 


You must meet the minimum GPA requirement, subject and English language requirements.


Entry Tests that medical universities accept for undergrad and graduate students are as follows:


  • MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

  • GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical Admission Test)



Step 2: Complete A One Year Internship/Training Program


After completing the degree, you must complete a one-year internship/training program under a certified pharmacist. Working under a professional and accredited pharmacist will increase your knowledge and skill set. 


You will become more professional and get the core idea of the field of pharmacy. The one-year internship will focus on the practical part of your degree and ensure that you build an advanced level of skills such as:


  • Preparing the medicines

  • Checking errors in the proscriptions

  • Promote and safeguard health awareness

  • Advising the patient about the medicine

  • Determining which combinations of drugs are harmful to patients


The primary purpose of the one-year internship is to broaden your skillset so that you can work as a successful pharmacist in future.



Step 3: Sit The Pharmacy Board of Australia's Registration Exam


After completing a one-year internship program, you can sit in the Pharmacy Board's registration examination. After completion of the process, you can apply for registration as a pharmacist in Australia.


Industry Bodies:




6. How Long Does It Take to Become A Pharmacist In Australia?


The pharmacy degree typically takes four years to complete, and you need to intern afterwards. The subjects you study in these four years are as follows.


  • Department of Pharmaceutics

  • Pharmaceutics-I (Physical Pharmacy)

  • Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

  • Department of Pharmacognosy

  • Department of Basic Medical Sciences

  • Department of Pharmacy Practice

  • Pharmacy orientation

  • History and Literature of Pharmacy

  • Physio Chemical Principles

  • Hospital pharmacy

  • Career Pharmacy

  • Primary care pharmacy



7. How Much Do Pharmacists Get Paid in Australia?


According to PayScale, the average Pharmacist's pay is AU$35.73 per hour. The lowest and the highest Pharmacist pay is A$29.70 per hour and A$43.44 / per hour, respectively.


Earnings are usually lower in the initial years and increase as you build experience and expertise.


  • Entry-level (below 1-year experience): AU$32.74 per hour

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$34.40 per hour 

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$36.86 per hour 

  • Experienced Pharmacist (10-19 years of experience): AU$37.82 per hour 

  • In their late career (20 years and above): AU$39 per hour



Additionally, you may expect higher salaries if you choose to work in the below locations in Australia:


  • Townsville: $59.44 per hour

  • Newcastle: $59.00 per hour

  • Perth: $57.33 per hour

  • Canberra: $56.42 per hour

  • Brisbane: $53.19 per hour

  • Sydney: $50.81 per hour

  • Geelong: $50.44 per hour

  • Wollongong: $48.03 per hour

  • Gold Coast: $47.02 per hour



8. Possible Areas Of Employment


After completing a pharmacy degree and an internship year, you can work in various settings, including:


  • The pharmaceutical industry (sales, marketing, quality control, and management)

  • Community/Retail pharmacies

  • Clinical trials administration

  • Hospital pharmacies

  • Drug information agencies

  • Pharmacy academia

  • The biopharmaceutical industry

  • Medication distribution centre

  • Consulting to industry

  • Military facilities

  • Drug regulation for public or private companies

  • Pharmacy professional organisations

  • Medical research and communications.



9. Is it Worth Becoming A Pharmacist In Australia?


Yes. "Pharmacist" can be a promising career for the following reasons:


  • The role allows you to make a real difference in patient care.


  • The Pharmacist's job is broader than dispensing medicines. It is now expanding to provide advanced healthcare services, such as the Administration of vaccines, review of medicines usage by patients, evaluation of medicines usage in healthcare systems, and contribution to aged care services.


With a pharmacy degree, you can engage in varied work across several different settings:



  • Community Pharmacist: Dispensing prescriptions, educating patients, and counselling on medication to patients in the healthcare system.


  • Hospital Pharmacist: Reviewing medication charts, calculate dosages, manage medicine's side effects/ interactions, and advise patients within hospital settings.


  • Pharmacist in The Pharmaceutical Industry: Pursuing roles concerning drug development, clinical trials, marketing, and regulatory affairs.


  • Hospital Pharmacists: Hospital pharmacists are responsible for dispensing medicines, reviewing the prescriptions, and reviewing the prescribed dosage of drugs. Sometimes, there might be a prescription error. Having a hospital pharmacist reduces mistakes.


  • Retail and Community Pharmacists: A retail pharmacist provides general healthcare services, which include distributing the prescribing of medicines to the patient. A retail pharmacist works in a retail store rather than in a hospital.


  • Industrial Pharmacist: Industrial pharmacists conduct research, testing, and analysis in developing pharmaceuticals and related supplies. They use several methodologies to process and create new medicines.


Besides the above, Pharmacists can also work in general practice, research, consulting, aged care, medical writing, academia, professional organisations like the Australian College of Pharmacy, government agencies like the NSW Poisons Information Centre, non-government organisations, and the military.


Based on your chosen major, you have numerous career possibilities, such as:


  • Retail Pharmacist

  • Community pharmacist

  • Hospital/dispensary pharmacist

  • Pharmaceutical Industry Pharmacist

  • Laboratory technician

  • Medical researcher

  • Nuclear Pharmacist

  • Chemotherapy Pharmacist

  • Long-term care Pharmacist

  • Toxicologist

  • Clinical Trials Specialist

  • Drug Safety Officer

  • Pharmacy educator

  • Clinical Pharmacist

  • Consultant Pharmacist

  • Pharmacy Specialist



Pharmacists have a strong career outlook in Australia. According to Labour Market Insights, 42,500 pharmacists are employed in the country.


Considering the demand for this profession, the government projects a 9% job growth rate and the creation of 3,100 new jobs between 2021 to 2026. 


Due to the rising demand for Pharmacy services, it is estimated that the number of workers to grow from 34,600 in 2021 to 37,700 in 2026.



10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Is Pharmacy A Good Career in Australia?


Pharmacists are Australia's third most reliable professionals, after doctors and nurses. In this profession, you play a significant role as the "Medicine expert" in the healthcare segment.


Moreover, a Pharmacy degree provides diverse, engaging, and rewarding careers based on your interests and education levels. These include medical technology, marketing, agriculture, cosmetic, and biomedical research.


High job satisfaction is another reason to pursue this profession. You can help injured or sick people by being a community, hospital, or primary care pharmacist or working in business, government, or the armed forces.


It's worth noting that Pharmacist's skills are not just confined to conventional career paths in the community or hospital. Their broader skill set, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and attention to detail, are valued in other areas besides health.


Pharmacists are also a good career option if you seek a role in the pharmaceutical industry that offers a work-life balance. You will usually work standard work hours and weekends and public holidays free.


It is an in-demand profession within Australia and worldwide and commands a competitive salary.


Additionally, the profession has entry-level, mid-level, and senior roles that show career growth and advancement opportunities.


If you are interested in health, well-being, and science, and looking for a well-paid and fulfilling profession helping others, then becoming a pharmacist is worthwhile.



What Is The Shortest Time To Become A Pharmacist?


The shortest time to become a pharmacist is five years.


You will need 4-years of full-time study to complete a Bachelor of Pharmacy or Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) and 1-year to complete your internship and the Intern Training Program.


When having completed the required education and internship, you can apply for a General Pharmacist registration to be a fully-fledged pharmacist in Australia.



Which Course Is Best For Pharmacists?


A bachelor's degree in pharmacy is the ideal course to work as a Pharmacist in Australia.



What Are The Five Daily Duties of a Pharmacist?


The five most common duties of a pharmacist include the following:


  1. Review medical prescriptions from the doctor.

  2. Dispense prescription and non-prescription medicines and therapeutic and diagnostic aids. 

  3. Advise people on various aspects of medications before dispensing to ensure their safe and effective use. It includes - proper dosage, administration methods, drug compatibility, potential side effects, etc.

  4. Store and preserve drugs, serums, vaccines, and other drugs to prevent deterioration

  5. Coordinate with Pharmacy Technicians, Sales Assistants, and Interns



Can You Finish Pharmacy in 3 years?


No. You need at least five years to complete Pharmacy education (4-year full-time) and training (1-year paid internship and Intern Training Program) to be eligible for general registration in Australia.



What is The ATAR Score For Pharmacy?


The Year 12 ATAR score to get into pharmacy degree programs is usually between 75 and 85. 




What Things Should A Pharmacist Know?


Pharmacists need specialised knowledge about medicines' biological, physical, and chemical properties to integrate new and complex information.


Besides it, they also need:


  • Numerical skills to make precise pharmaceutical calculations and provide the correct dosages. It becomes essential when compounding medications and preparing unique solutions.

  • Good working knowledge of computers

  • Financial Acumen, including basic working knowledge of bookkeeping, finance, and taxation principles.



What Do Pharmacists Wear?


Pharmacists wear a uniform to maintain a professional appearance and follow safety regulations. It promotes consistency, hygiene, protection against contamination, and trust when dealing with patients.


Though a uniform is optional in retail pharmacies, it is mandatory in healthcare settings, including clinics and hospitals.


The typical uniform of a pharmacist comprises:


  • A white coloured lab coat, 

  • A name badge with their credentials 

  • Hand gloves when handling hazardous drugs or chemicals.

  • Scrubs include a short-sleeved tunic or shirt with multiple pockets for essential items such as notepads, pens, and stethoscopes.

  • Comfortable footwear

  • Minimal jewellery



Is a Pharmacist A High-Paying Job in Australia?


In Australia, the average salary of a pharmacist is AUD 72,843 per year. With this salary bracket, you can support your living expenses and enhance your living standard.


Besides the annual salary, you may also find other benefits in a pharmacy position:


  • Dental Insurance

  • Health insurance

  • Prescription drug insurance

  • 401(k) and 401(k) matching

  • Paid housing

  • Employee discounts

  • Relocation assistance

  • Life insurance

  • Paid time off (PTO)



Are Pharmacists Chemists?


No. Pharmacists (ANZSCO ID 2515) and Chemists (ANZSCO ID 234211) are two different professions in Australia. Education, work responsibilities, and salary are the significant factors differentiating both occupations.


Pharmacists are pharmacy professionals trained in pharmacy (bachelor's degree) and registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia.


Chemists, conversely, are educated in the science of chemistry (bachelor's degree in science (Chemistry) and require no registration with any professional body to work in Australia.


Both professionals also differ based on the duties they perform. Where a Pharmacist dispenses medicinal drugs for several medical needs, a Chemist conducts experiments and research with chemical substances to form theories and techniques and test the reliability of outcomes in varying conditions.



Is Pharmacy a PR Course in Australia?


Yes. International students/applicants who graduated from a recognised pharmacy degree program in Australia or New Zealand can get a 190 PR visa and register as a Pharmacist in Australia. You can read more here to learn how to become a permanent resident in Australia after graduation.


International students can find nationally approved pharmacy courses in each state of Australia. Studying for these courses will equip you with the latest knowledge to ensure you gain a competitive edge in your clinical practice.



How To Become A Pharmacist in NSW?


Follow the below steps to become a Registered Pharmacist in NSW:


  1. Complete an accredited pharmacy degree accredited by the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) and approved by the Pharmacy Board of Australia (PBA). UNSW offers a 5 Year, full-time Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Medicine/Master of Pharmacy degree.  

  2. At the end of your degree, apply for provisional registration with the PBA. It will allow you to complete a 1-year internship under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. 

  3. During your internship, complete an APC-approved intern training program and PBC-approved supervised practice arrangements of 1824 hours. 

  4. Pass the written and oral exams for general registration. 

  5. Once all the steps are done, apply for general registration with the PBA. It makes you a Registered Pharmacist in NSW, Australia.



How To Become a Pharmacist in QLD?


To become a pharmacist in Queensland, You require an APC-accredited undergraduate pharmacy degree and an internship year.


The University of Queensland offers a Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours). It makes you eligible to complete a pre-registration year as an intern pharmacist and an intern training program to apply for pharmacist registration in the state.



How To Become a Pharmacist in Melbourne?


You may consider completing a 4-year full-time On campus Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) at RMIT University.


The course provides detailed knowledge of pharmacology, pharmaceutics, therapeutics, pharmacy practice, and drug development. It prepares you for a mandatory 1-year internship to gain nationwide registration as a pharmacist.


After completing the degree and the internship, you can apply for a general registration to practise in any pharmacy area in Australi



15. Closing Words


A career as a pharmacist holds a great responsibility. Being a certified pharmacist might be a long process. Still, it is worth the wait because it is the most rewarding and empathetic profession. 


However, you should be responsible enough to take this responsibility, not get too involved with your patients, and act professionally. Having a friendly relationship with patients and advising them is essential.


Hopefully, this guide on becoming a pharmacist in Australia has made it easier to understand the career choices, job prospects, study pathways, career opportunities, internships and salary expectations.


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