what is a pharmacist?

As a pharmacist, you handle prescriptions and guide customers on properly using medications. You fill prescriptions issued by healthcare professionals. You explain the possible side effects of the drugs and advise patients on alternatives if the medicines are unavailable.

A pharmacist typically works in a chemist's shop dispensing prescription medication. You help customers choose over-the-counter medicines for minor ailments. As a pharmacist, you answer health-related questions, from inquiries about various drugs to methods of use. Some pharmacists also work in hospitals and research facilities. Pharmacists' careers have evolved from a historical focus on the distribution of medicines to an emphasis on safe and rational drug use. They provide a pharmaceutical service that revolves around preventative health care and monitoring medication use.

The provision of pharmaceutical care relies on understanding the characteristics of medications, from dosage formulations to the dispersal of drugs in the body. It would help if you understood drugs' interactions with the human body to determine their effects. The personal attributes necessary for pharmacists include compassion and genuine care for patients. It is also essential to be accurate to avoid administering the wrong medication.

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average pharmacist salary

The average salary of a pharmacist is $95,000 per year. The actual remuneration package depends on experience and level of education. For instance, entry-level pharmacists make $85,000 annually, while experienced workers earn over $105,000 yearly. Aside from education and experience level, pharmacists' salaries depend on various factors. For instance, pharmacists working in hospitals have a different salary structure than those in retail stores. Working in the private sector can increase your salary potential compared to working in public hospitals. The size of the organisation you work for also determines your remuneration package. When you work for a large chain of chemists, you are likely to earn more than pharmacists working in small retail shops.

With additional qualifications, your skills become valuable, and employers are willing to pay more. For instance, having a master's education improves your remuneration prospects. Gaining additional experience also improves your salary prospects. With expertise, you can handle challenging cases, help more patients and negotiate a higher salary.

Want to know what you will earn as a pharmacist? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

pharmacist jobs

types of pharmacists

Some of the types of pharmacists include:

• community pharmacists: you work in chemist shops and pharmacy counters in larger shops. Your job is to administer medications to patients based on their prescriptions. You also answer their questions about over-the-counter medication and explain the side effects. Sometimes, you provide primary care, like administering flu jabs.

• clinical pharmacists: you work in hospitals and other healthcare settings to dispense medication and provide patient care. You may go on rounds with doctors and healthcare teams. Your job is to recommend the drugs to administer to patients and oversee the medication dosage and delivery times. Clinical pharmacists also conduct some medical tests.

• academic pharmacists: you research medicines and publish articles on new types of drugs for various diseases. You also lecture trainee pharmacists and mentor them by supervising their practice.

male wearing white coat
male wearing white coat

working as a pharmacist

Working as a pharmacist is an exciting role that involves administering medication doctors prescribe. Explore the daily duties, responsibilities and work environments associated with the role.


education and skills

If you want to be a pharmacist, some of the qualifications you require include the following:

  • academic qualifications: to become a pharmacist, complete a bachelor's degree like a bachelor of pharmacy. You gain entry to the degree course by completing Year 12 and getting the required Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Alternatively, you can do an Undergraduate Preparation Program (UPP) to gain admission into university. Full-time study for the degree takes four years, and you can improve your qualifications with a masters in pharmacy which takes an additional 2 years.
  • experience: when you complete your degree course, get a provisional registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia. It is also necessary to complete an internship under a registered pharmacist and the requisite intern training program recommended by the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC). When you pass the required written and oral exams, you can apply for registration as a pharmacist.

pharmacist skills and competencies

Some of the skills required for the role include:

  • accuracy: as a pharmacist, you dispense medication to patients as a health professional prescribes. You are expected to dispense medication accurately. Aside from administering medication, providing instructions for using the medicine and explaining possible risks or interactions to patients is vital. Since you handle multiple medications, accuracy helps you meet the patients' requirements and administer the correct dosage.
  • clinical knowledge: as a pharmacist, having extensive clinical pharmaceutical knowledge is crucial. You must maintain a comprehensive understanding of the field and the current clinical theories. Clinical knowledge helps you understand the purposes of various medications and recommend alternatives to patients if necessary.
  • communication skills: you require exceptional communication skills to interact with patients. Your job is communicating the medication's proper use and possible interactions and risks. Proper communication ensures that the patient doesn't misuse the prescription.
  • problem-solving skills: as a pharmacist, you need critical thinking skills to analyse each situation and provide the best solution. Critical thinking skills help you solve problems arising from wrong prescriptions and the adverse effects of medications. Critical thinking lets you analyse a patient's medical history and find the best alternative drug.

FAQs about working as a pharmacist

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a pharmacist.

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