As with any career, you’ll want to know what you can expect to earn once you’re qualified and ready to start work as a pharmacist. It’s more important for students entering this profession, than many other career avenues, due to the intensity of the training required.
Since you’re going to be studying for five years, on a full-time study basis, with your final year being practical experience through work placement, there’s a high probability that self-funding won’t be an option for everyone.
With that option perhaps being removed from the table, the alternative leaves you with student debt to pay off. Wherever that concern arises, you need to know you’ll be earning enough of a salary to earn an income in line with your expertise, as well as manage your personal financial situation effectively.
When you first start in this profession, you expect your first job to be community based. That will be in one of your highstreet pharmacies, or maybe even your local supermarket, if they have a chemist within their facilities.
When you enter the community pharmacy sector, you’re going to be starting with a minimum salary expectation of £21’000.
Employers will vary their salaries based on the location and the demand in communities for your expertise. Larger chains, such as Boots or supermarkets, may up that salary to gain a competitive advantage to secure your services.
This can see your starting salary go anywhere from the starting £21’000 and boost right up to a starting salary of up to £35’000 per annum.
The higher salaries are going to be with larger pharmacy chain stores, such as Lloyds, Boots, and the Co-Operative pharmacy. You’ll also find that like many careers, the salaries will be higher in city locations.
Salaries on the lower end will be within independent community pharmacies, in smaller and often rural locations.
For the larger chains, there may also be performance-based incentives available to boost your salary. This could be in line with the increased profits, you’re able to generate the business, from managing the pharmacy and lower their operational costs. Not every employer will offer them, but there are a few who will offer incentivised packages, which invest you more into the success of the business.
· The Locum Rates
For those who don’t quite find permanent pharmacist jobs, the locum work is the best place to get started. It lets you get around different pharmacies, gaining work experience and letting employers get to know about your availability for work.
Of course, since you’re gaining the work experience, you’re also gaining a wage for your services. The difference being the word “wage” in comparison to a “salary.”
As a locum worker, you’ll be required to fill in for the absence of a pharmacist. It’s not going to be in permanent position, but it will give you the work experience, and the advantage of networking with pharmacies who come back to hire you in the future.
The better way to look at this is temporary line of work is in your rate of pay.
As a locum pharmacist, you’ll be paid by the hour. The rates for which will vary from £20 – £25 per hour. For a week’s work as a locum pharmacist, covering holidays, you’d usually be required for a 48-hour working week. That could see you earn £20 x 48 hours bringing a wage of £960 for a week’s work. Therefore, the rates are there.
When that’s not enough and you feel you’re worth more, which can happen given the short amount of notice locums sometimes receive, there is wiggle room for negotiation. Locums can negotiate a higher rate of pay, based on short notice or perhaps weekend work being required.
As you gain more work experience as a pharmacist, you will start to gain more financial incentives. However, this is going to take you around 10 years, after which time you’ll be considered a senior level pharmacist.
That brings with it a higher remuneration package, often entailing a salary of $£40’000 per annum. That can sky rocket with some firms, and in demand city centre locations you could attract a salary of £68’000 per annum, although that will be in and around the London district.
If you choose to work as a hospital pharmacist, then you’ll be working towards the different band salaries the NHS have in place.
Starting out, your first post will be classified as an entry-level post. These positions are filled at the pre-registration phase of your training. This entry position will start you on a band 5 salary, currently paid at £21’176.
As you progress into a junior pharmacist, you’ll move up to band 6, bringing a salary of £25’528. At this stage, you’ll usually be required to enter into a 3 – 5 year contract of employment, which will have agreed annual salary increases.
Progression to a specialist pharmacist takes your salary to a band 7, paying £30’460 – £40’157. It’s only possible to progress to this level after you’ve gained a minimum of 3 years experience, and preferably within the NHS.
The opportunities to progress to senior level aren’t always available in the establishment you’re working within. However, it is possible to relocate to another NHS hospital, to progress your career forward.
Further development within the NHS can see you increase your salary by becoming:
· An Advanced Pharmacist
o Band 8a-b
o £38,851 – £55,945
· A Pharmacist Team Manager
o Band 8b-c
o £45,254 – £67,134
· A Pharmacist Consultant
o Band 8b-d
o up to £80,810
As you can see from the various starting salaries, there are some good starting pays to be found, but regardless whether you start with a salary of £21’000, there are opportunities to gain a much higher salary, gained through experience.
It’s certainly worthwhile to keep your skills sharpened by focusing on your CPD to progress onto the advanced and more specialist areas of pharmaceutical jobs.