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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Pharmacists have roles ranging from dispensing medicines, reviewing medications for safety and effectiveness, and providing advice to patients on their medicines, minor ailments and vaccinations.

They can also develop careers in non-clinical roles in the public and private sectors. In their first five years, fully qualified pharmacists usually receive $70,000 to $80,000 a year.

The job prospects for pharmacists are good due to increasing demand for their services.

How to become a pharmacist

What they do

Pharmacists (also known as chemists in New Zealand) prepare, compound and dispense prescribed medicines. They also advise patients about their medications and medical conditions, and help ensure safe and effective use of medicines.

Their tasks may include:

  • receiving prescriptions, checking patients' medicine histories, and ensuring optimal dosage and methods of administration and drug compatibility before dispensing
  • preparing or supervising the preparation and labelling of liquid medicines, ointments, powders, tablets and other medications to fill prescriptions
  • 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
  • maintaining prescription files and recording issue of narcotics, poisons and habit-forming drugs
  • storing and preserving vaccines, serums and other drugs subject to deterioration
  • supplying non-prescription medicines, and diagnostic and therapeutic aids
  • supervising and coordinating the work of Pharmacy Technicians, pharmacy interns and Pharmacy Sales Assistants
  • 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
  • testing and analysing drugs to determine their identity, purity and strength in relation to specified standards
  • developing standards for drugs used in pharmaceuticals.

Qualifications needed

To become a pharmacist, you need to:

  • have a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Auckland or University of Otago
  • register as an Intern Pharmacist with the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, complete an internship of one year working in a hospital or community pharmacy, and complete Pharmacy Council assessments
  • register in the Pharmacist Scope of Practice
  • have an Annual Practising Certificate, which requires continuing professional development.

Useful experience before studying pharmacy includes pharmacy assistant work, customer service experience and work in the health industry.

Cost of study

Bachelor of Pharmacy
$31,100 over four years


Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free
tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

A Bachelor of Pharmacy is available only at the University of Auckland and University of Otago.

University of
University of Auckland:


The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 governs admission to the practice of pharmacy in New Zealand. It requires special practical training carried out under conditions set down by the Pharmacy Council. The training must be carried out after the candidate has passed the fourth-year examination for their Bachelor of Pharmacy degree.

Pharmacy Council of New Zealand:
Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree has ranged between 195 (in 2011) and 255 graduates (in 2014).

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the average income for pharmacists was estimated to be around $81,700.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

A pharmacist’s income varies with their experience and level of responsibility. During the internship year, interns earn about $35,000 a year. Fully qualified pharmacists usually earn about $70,000 a year. Those who manage a pharmacy earn between $80,000 and $90,000 a year. Some pharmacists own a pharmacy or pharmacies and their income depends on the profitability of the pharmacy.

Median earnings by level of responsibility
Fully qualified Manager
$70,000 $80,000-90,000

Source: The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand; Careers New Zealand

Employment and skill shortages

Pharmacists’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
3,420 2,760 3,360 3,690
  -3.0% 3.3% 1.6%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category "Health Diagnostic and Promotion Professionals”.

The number of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians fell by 3.0% yearly from 2006 to 2013. Growth is projected to increase at  1.6% out to 2028.

Employment growth in this occupation depends on prescription drug use, advances in the field of pharmacy, and the labour supply. There is a particular need for pharmacists in rural and provincial regions in New Zealand.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Practising Pharmacists
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
3,351 3,406 3,502 3,577 3,718

Source: Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, 2016 Workforce Demographics Report

According to the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand 2017 Workforce Demographics Report, the number of practising pharmacists increased to 3,718 in June 2017, up by 3.9% from June 2016. Employment of pharmacists has risen consistently over the last few years, and demand is expected to continue to increase due to increasing demand for health care services from New Zealand's ageing population.

Practising Pharmacists Chart


Source: Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, 2017 Workforce Demographics Report.

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
20% 23% 2% 73% $78,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission.
*Three years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Pharmacy.

Three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, the overwhelming majority of graduates are in employment, with some overseas or in further study. The median salary was around $78,000 three years after qualification completion.

Pharmacists are not on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage lists.

Where to find job vacancies

Pharmacist vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

Pharmacists can develop careers in community and hospital pharmacy as well as the pharmaceutical industry. They can also work in corporate jobs in pharmaceutical benefit management; in some non-clinical industry job options in regulation, education, medical sales or medical writing; and in government organisations such as PHARMAC, Medsafe and the Ministry of Health.

Pharmacists may also choose to continue their education and gain postgraduate qualifications in pharmacy.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level pharmacists.

  • Chemist
  • Community Pharmacist
  • Hospital Pharmacist
  • Industrial Pharmacist
  • Retail Pharmacist

Other information


More information on pharmacists is available through Careers New Zealand, Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, Health Careers and the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand:
Pharmacy Council of New Zealand:
Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand Inc:
Health Careers:
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Pharmacist
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Pharmacy Technician


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of pharmacists has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

2515 – Pharmacists
311215 – Pharmacy Technician