How to become a Pharmacist

Pharmacists supply, dispense and manufacture medicines and pharmaceutical products in hospitals and community pharmacies, and advise on their appropriate use. They also conduct research into the formulation, production, storage, quality control and distribution of medicines and pharmaceutical products.

Personal requirements for a Pharmacist

  • Careful and methodical
  • Able to work independently
  • Good communication skills

Education & Training for a Pharmacist

To become a pharmacist you usually have to complete a degree in pharmacy at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. You may also be required to attend an interview. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Additional information

Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. To practise as a pharmacist in Australia, it is necessary to be registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia. Before applying for full registration, pharmacy graduates must successfully complete a set number of hours of supervised practice while undertaking an accredited intern training program, and pass a written and oral examination conducted by the board. For full details, see the Pharmacy Board of Australia's website. Students, interns and graduates are eligible for membership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia.

Duties & Tasks of a Pharmacist

Pharmacists:

  • Prepare or supervise the dispensing of medicines, ointments and tablets
  • Provide advice about how medicines are to be taken or used in the safest and most effective way in the treatment of common ailments
  • Advise consumers and other health professionals about medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter medicines), including appropriate selection, dosage and drug interactions, potential side effects and therapeutic effects
  • Select, advise on and supply non-prescription medicine, sick room supplies and other products
  • Develop legal and professional practice standards, and advise on government controls and regulations concerning the manufacture and supply of medicines
  • Work in the research and development of medicines and other health-related products
  • Manage pharmacies or pharmaceutical companies.

Tasks

  • Preparing or supervising the preparation and labelling of liquid medicines, ointments, powders, tablets and other medications to fill prescriptions.
  • Storing and preserving vaccines, serums and other drugs subject to deterioration.
  • Receiving prescriptions, checking patients' medicine histories, and ensuring optimal dosage and methods of administration and drug compatibility before dispensing.
  • Testing and analysing drugs to determine their identity, purity and strength in relation to specified standards.
  • Advising prescribers on drug incompatibility and contra-indications.
  • Reviewing and monitoring the medicine therapy of individual patients, and assessing the effectiveness of the total medicine therapy.
  • Conducting research to develop and improve pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and related chemical products.
  • Conferring with Chemists, Engineering Professionals and other professionals about manufacturing techniques and ingredients.
  • Developing standards for drugs used in pharmaceuticals.
  • Supervising and coordinating the work of Pharmacy Technicians, pharmacy interns and Pharmacy Sales Assistants.
  • Supplying non-prescription medicines, and diagnostic and therapeutic aids.
  • Maintaining prescription files and recording issue of narcotics, poisons and habit-forming drugs.

Employment Opportunities for a Pharmacist

Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies, with some owning their own practice or partnership. They also work in hospital pharmacies providing services to patients. A number are employed by pharmaceutical companies in drug research, marketing and design, or by universities and TAFE institutes.


Specializations

Community Pharmacist

A community pharmacist is involved in dispensing prescriptions, providing advice about drug selection and usage to doctors and other health professionals, providing primary healthcare advice and support, and educating customers on health promotion, disease prevention and the proper use of medicines. They usually have a high level of contact with the public.

Consultant Pharmacist

A consultant pharmacist is employed by community pharmacies or hospitals, or is self-employed and contracted by community pharmacies, to provide medication reviews for residential care or ambulatory care patients and/or other medication-related cognitive services.

Government Pharmacist

A government pharmacist is involved with the regulatory control of pharmaceutical and medical products at state, territory or federal level.

Hospital Pharmacist

A hospital pharmacist operates as part of a healthcare team and is involved in monitoring medication usage, counselling patients, providing drug information and advice to health professionals and the community, conducting clinical trials and preparing products for patient use. They usually have a lot of contact with other health professionals and members of the public.

Industrial Pharmacist

An industrial pharmacist is involved in research and the development, manufacturing, testing, analysis and marketing of pharmaceutical and medical products.

Community Pharmacist

A community pharmacist is involved in dispensing prescriptions, providing advice about drug selection and usage to doctors and other health professionals, providing primary healthcare advice and support, and educating customers on health promotion, disease prevention and the proper use of medicines. They usually have a high level of contact with the public.

Consultant Pharmacist

A consultant pharmacist is employed by community pharmacies or hospitals, or is self-employed and contracted by community pharmacies, to provide medication reviews for residential care or ambulatory care patients and/or other medication-related cognitive services.

Government Pharmacist

A government pharmacist is involved with the regulatory control of pharmaceutical and medical products at state, territory or federal level.

Hospital Pharmacist

A hospital pharmacist operates as part of a healthcare team and is involved in monitoring medication usage, counselling patients, providing drug information and advice to health professionals and the community, conducting clinical trials and preparing products for patient use. They usually have a lot of contact with other health professionals and members of the public.

Industrial Pharmacist

An industrial pharmacist is involved in research and the development, manufacturing, testing, analysis and marketing of pharmaceutical and medical products.

Pharmacist

Pharmacists supply, dispense and manufacture medicines and pharmaceutical products in hospitals and community pharmacies, and advise on their appropriate use. They also conduct research into the formulation, production, storage, quality control and distribution of medicines and pharmaceutical products.

  • Average age
    Average age
    34 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Moderate
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    62% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,862
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    68% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    25,500 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.8%
    NSW: 29.3%
    NT: 0.7%
    QLD: 20.3%
    SA: 7.9%
    TAS: 2.4%
    VIC: 26.8%
    WA: 10.8%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.8%
    20-24: 10.2%
    25-34: 40%
    35-44: 22.2%
    45-54: 13.6%
    55-59: 5.8%
    60-64: 3.6%
    65 and Over: 3.8%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 0.6%
    Bachelor degree: 74.6%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 0.7%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 19.5%
    Year 10 and below: 0.4%
    Year 11: 0.2%
    Year 12: 4%
    Years 11 & 10: 0%
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