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Best Countries For Pharmacy Jobs

Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by Fola Shade

The Best Countries For Pharmacy Jobs identifies the countries that have the highest demand for pharmacists, making it easier to find a job in a country that needs you most. Easier and faster than typing in each country’s pharmacy job careers page one by one. Each country page also ranks each country dependent on job possibilities, salary, and English proficiency making it easier to make a decision on where you wish to practice your profession.

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best country to work as a pharmacist

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highest paying countries for pharmacists

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1. United States

Pharmacist average salary: $133,014

In contrast, the annual mean wage for all occupations in the United States is $47,230, according to BLS. The highest average wage obtained by pharmacists in the US comes from San Francisco, this is probably because they have the second highest cost of living in the US (the average home price in San Francisco is nearly $1.2 million.)

Essentially, higher wages are mainly seen in the States on the outskirts of the midwest and the eastern coastal areas near Washington and New York:

In terms of hourly pay, the median was $59.70 per hour. Within the US higher wages are dependent on:

  • Geographic location – along the coast, East and West are the most expensive.
  • Type of employer – corporate generally pays better than independents.
  • Years of experience – the higher the better.

2. Iceland

Pharmacist average salary: $106,000 (USD adjusted)

Iceland has relentlessly climbed the scale of most desirable destinations over the years and up to 98 percent of people in the service industry are fluent in English.

On first glance, this may seem fantastic, but don’t pack your bags just yet. One of the reasons the wage is so high is that the country is so small, there are about 60 pharmacies in Iceland, most of them are only manned by one pharmacist at any given time.

3. Australia

Pharmacist average salary: $88,843

The average pharmacist wage is $42.54 per hour based on 913 salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed. If you do the average 40 hour week this equates to $88,483 per year.

4. Switzerland

Pharmacist average salary: $83,600 – $127,000

While Swiss pharmacists may not be paid as much as their US counterparts, Switzerland has often been named the country with the highest quality of life-based on indexes such as health care, safety, traffic, and pollution.

The CHF, commonly called the Swiss Franc is about equivalent to the US Dollar.

5. Canada

Pharmacist average salary: $80,700

The median hourly rate for pharmacists in Canada is $33.74, but there is no noticeable difference in salary for pharmacists with higher levels of experience.

Most Canadian pharmacists move on to other jobs once they accrue more than 20 years of experience.

The average wage for all Canadians in 2014 was around $49,000, according to Statistics Canada.

6. Sweden

Pharmacist average salary: $70,465

An average pharmacist wage in Sweden is $34ph, $5,842.04 per month or $70,465 per year.

A major benefit of pharmacist migration to Sweden is that the income tax is relatively low, only 24%, however, it is mandatory to learn Swedish for you to practice as a pharmacist. It is estimated that learning Swedish takes approximately 575-600 class hours (4 working weeks) to gain a proficient level.

7. United Kingdom

Pharmacist average salary: $57,000 to $53,300

According to PayScale, pharmacists in the United Kingdom tend to make around $53,000, but the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated the average salary at around $57,000 in 2014. Per hour working as a locum you can expect a wage of £21 per hour which is around $26.

For more context, the highest-paid workers in the United Kingdom in 2014 were city brokers at an average of $205,000, according to ONS. UK pilots tend to make around $138,000.

The UK prime minister’s salary was around $218,000 in 2014, according to The Guardian.

8. Germany

Pharmacist average salary: $44,800

Women in Germany make up 55% of the country’s pharmacist workforce, according to PayScale.

German pharmacists are only allowed to own up to 3 locations, so there are no large drugstore chains like there are in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Most pharmacies in Germany are closed during the evenings, Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and holidays. Some pharmacies even close on Wednesdays, according to How To Germany.

9. Republic of Ireland

Pharmacist average salary: $45,442 – $68,163

Pharmacists can earn between $45,442 and $68,163 (with up to three years’ experience) and between $56,000 and $1130,000 (over three years’ experience), although this will vary depending on the employer.

10. United Arab Emirates

Pharmacist average salary: $24,800

This wage increases slightly in Dubai, where the average is $25,330. The best pharmacist wage in UAE are found in the top private clinics, you would expect a lower wage if you were engaged in the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacist graduates sometimes cannot work directly as a licensed pharmacist, it these cases they sometimes work as interns and graduate trainees and earn between $1,000 to $2,000 USD.

Highest paid pharmacists are those who have accumulated at least 10 years’ experience and possess at least a Masters degree in a health related course.

Best Countries For Pharmacy Jobs

1. The United States of America

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), demand for pharmacists in the United States is set to continue until 2018 and possibly beyond. The ongoing shortfall of pharmacists in America has been caused by the rapid growth of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, an aging population, and increasing numbers of pharmacists that are opting to work part-time. The AACP predicts that by 2020, there will be a shortfall of 157,000 pharmacists throughout the country.

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act will result in a greater number of people requiring healthcare services, including pharmaceutical care. Pharmacists, therefore, are set to play an increasingly important role in the provision of healthcare in America going forward. As pharmacists are a profession in demand, salaries have risen considerably in recent years with annual remuneration now in the region of US$ 116,000 to US$ 140,000.

2. Ireland

Although Ireland is still coming to terms with its economic difficulties after years of recession, its shortage of pharmacists has led to a recent recruitment drive. Additional places have been added to university courses, and both public and private employers have begun to advertise vacant positions internationally.

The majority of these vacancies are in the area of hospital pharmacy. These positions are predominantly involved in the research of and supply of medicines, with vacancies available in both private and public health facilities throughout the country. Graduates are encouraged to apply and can earn a basic starting salary of €35,300 (US$ 47,544) per annum. Those with the desired hospital experience can also earn upwards of €59,400 (US$ 80,000) per annum.

3. New Zealand

Pharmacists are in big demand in New Zealand and the number of those being employed in the sector continues to rise each year, with vacancies being filled both by local graduates and by overseas workers. According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, demand for pharmacists remains strong due to New Zealand’s aging population and the number of current pharmacists that will soon retire.

Appearing on the list of long-term skills shortages, pharmacists are being actively encouraged by the government to move to New Zealand for employment. Vacancies are available throughout the industry, in hospitals, community pharmacies, universities and within the pharmaceutical sector. A pharmacist with between one and five years of experience can command a salary of US$ 57,579 to US$ 65,810 per annum.

4. Sweden

There has been an acute shortage of pharmacists in Sweden for a number of years. The main reasons for this are an increase in the number of community pharmacies that opened after the state’s monopoly on the sector was privatized in 2009, the low number of pharmacy students and graduates at Swedish universities, and the large number of pharmacists that have retired.

In an effort to address these shortages, the Swedish government has placed pharmacy skills high on its list of in-demand occupations. Sweden also has one of the most liberal immigration policies, permitting family members to join the individual once they have found secure employment. The vast majority of vacancies are found in the community pharmacy sector. Although starting salaries for experienced pharmacists are in the region of US$ 60,000 per annum, there is a requirement that community pharmacists speak basic or conversational Swedish.

5. Singapore

Turning to Asia, one country which has been suffering a chronic shortage of pharmacists in recent times is Singapore. The city-state in south Asia has a below average ratio of pharmacists to the general population, and the government is keen to address this problem. The Singapore Pharmacy Council is working closely with universities to try and increase the number of students taking pharmacy courses. They are also trying to encourage graduates to remain in Singapore following the completion of their degrees.

Although starting salaries for recently graduated pharmacists in Singapore are quite low in comparison to other healthcare professionals — roughly S$4,000 per month (US$ 3,200) — this is usually offset with housing subsidies, health insurance and bonuses. Depending on their individual circumstances, overseas pharmacists may also qualify for a relocation allowance. Singapore is an attractive location to work in, as one of the most developed countries in Asia with a first class health and education system and low crime rates.

countries in need of Pharmacist 2021

  1. Ethiopia
  2. The South African Republic
  3. India
  4. UAE
  5. Malaysia
  6. USA
  7. Australia
  8. New Zealand
  9. Canada
  10. Ireland

There is an official shortage of pharmacists: what now?

Pharmacists were added to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list, leading to questions over how to tackle this issue.

The inclusion of pharmacists on the Home Office’s shortage occupation list (SOL) in March 2021 has prompted renewed questions about the future of the workforce.  

Adding a sector to this list indicates that there are not enough skilled resident workers to fill all of the roles needed in the UK, and makes it easier for staff from abroad to apply for a skilled worker visa through the UK’s immigration system.  

Pharmacists were added to the list in 2021, following a recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). Pharmacists had previously been placed on the SOL in 2008, and were removed in 2011. Following an MAC call for evidence, two unnamed contributors said that they “struggled to source workers for these roles due to the specific skillset and qualifications required”, particularly in the southeast of England.  

The contributors said that the shortage had arisen from a “decline in the number of pharmacy graduates and increasing demand for their services”, and that difficulties in recruiting were down to “competition from other employers and a general low volume of applicants”.  

But while this view of shortages is supported by a number of senior pharmacy figures, data obtained by The Pharmaceutical Journal suggest that work has already started on improving the pipeline of pharmacists of the future.

Vacancy rates 

In its 2021 report, the MAC said that “the [pharmacist] vacancy to employee ratio has generally been lower than the median across all occupations but has exhibited a noticeable upward trend in recent years”.  

This is certainly true in hospitals in England. The NHS Benchmarking Network’s Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation project reported in 2019 that the vacancy rate across hospital pharmacy “has increased year on year”. The average vacancy rate in 2018–2019 was 8%; a small increase from 6.9% in 2015–2016.  

The report noted that plans to recruit pharmacists by primary care networks (PCNs) could compound this problem: “With the focus on clinical pharmacists working in primary care and care homes in the NHS Long-Term Plan, this could emerge as a significant challenge for pharmacy departments in the coming years,” the report noted.  

However, there is evidence that PCNs in England are also struggling to find pharmacists with relevant experience. PCN workforce data published in December 2020 showed that, at the end of 2020, there were 1,375 full-time equivalent pharmacists in PCNs. But 595 PCNs had either not hired a pharmacist or not recorded hiring a pharmacist.  

In February 2020, Nikki Kanani, primary care medical director for NHS England and NHS Improvement, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that some PCNs had had to recruit pharmacists with less experience than they wanted because of workforce shortages — specifically, a lack of pharmacists already working at the required level.  

Community Pharmacy Shortages

In community pharmacy, increased competition for pharmacists is also having a significant impact. 

Alastair Buxton, director for NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 23 March 2021 that contractors “have highlighted that new roles for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in PCNs are resulting in some community pharmacy staff leaving to take up positions in PCNs”.

There are no official data on vacancies in community pharmacy in England, and vacancy rates may vary across the country. Buxton noted regional aspects to the shortage issue, saying that “contractors report that the situation varies across England”, and adding that “getting quantitative data on that is essential to support workforce planning activities”.  

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, agreed, saying: “These concerns are particularly acute in certain areas of the country. We welcome any decisions that will enable more patients to access pharmaceutical care, but see the addition of pharmacists to the shortage occupation list as only a short-term fix.” 

Responding to a MAC call for evidence on migration rules for overseas staff coming to work in the UK, in November 2019, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said that one community pharmacy multiple had “reported a chronic shortage of community pharmacists in every area outside of London now at peak times (winter pressures) of the year and throughout the year in South West, South West corridor, North East, Lakes and East Anglia”. Another organisation, the RPS said in its response, “reported geographical challenges with recruiting pharmacists in all areas outside of Birmingham, Manchester and London”.  

There are also signs of similar problems with recruitment in community pharmacy in Scotland and Wales.

In February 2019, Community Pharmacy Scotland said that plans for every GP practice in Scotland to have the support of a pharmacist or pharmacy technician may have to be adjusted, owing to workforce shortages.  

Turas data for the Scottish pharmacy workforce showed that, as of 30 September 2020, there were 1,735.2 (whole-time equivalent) pharmacists in post, and 143.3 total vacancies. Of these, 92.1 had been vacant for more than three months.  

In Wales, data published in August 2020 showed that community pharmacist vacancy rates were as high as one in five in some parts of the country.  

A spokesperson from Community Pharmacy Wales said on 24 March 2021 that the SOL recording a shortage of pharmacists “is a recognition of their importance in delivering accessible healthcare”. 

“In terms of community pharmacist numbers in Wales, however, a bigger issue has always been a correlation between a lack of pharmacists and an absence of schools of pharmacy within regional higher education provision.

“Historically, West Wales has always faced pharmacist shortages which can be attributed to this reason, though we are hopeful that when Swansea University starts to release graduates that will have a significant impact on pharmacist numbers in South West Wales.”  

What can be done? 

In 2019, around 21% of the UK’s registered pharmacists were born outside of the UK, but it is unclear if, in the current climate, adding pharmacists to the SOL will make a difference. 

There is evidence that since the UK left the EU, it has become a less attractive place to practise. A General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) report from June 2017 identified a significant fall in the number of pharmacist registrations from the European Economic Area (EEA), which “potentially reflects the impact of Brexit”. Papers published for the council’s February 2018 meeting noted that “the number of new EEA registrations continues to be impacted by the introduction of English language requirements and Brexit”. 

Working conditions

But it is just a supply problem? The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said that the addition of pharmacists to the SOL indicates “a problem in attracting people to the profession, or with recruitment and retention in certain parts of the sector”.  

“There is no single cause or solution, however this multifaceted issue requires a detailed workforce strategy for pharmacists, backed by appropriate pay structures and workplace conditions at all employers,” the PDA added.  

Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, identified another lever to improve vacancy rates: “This [shortage occupation] list emphasises the growing demand for pharmacists and their skills in many areas within our health service, such as in new roles across primary care.  

“It’s vital that the government invests in the workforce to support staff retention, including enabling protected time for professional development.” 

MPharm places 

And figures provided to The Pharmaceutical Journal indicate any shortage of pharmacists may be short-lived.

Although the number of pharmacy students has fallen in recent years, that trend has reversed rapidly in the past couple of years.

Figures collated by the GPhC show that intake onto the MPharm degree plateaued between 2016–2017 and 2019–2020, but increased sharply in both 2019–2020 and 2020–2021. 

Indeed, the number of students starting an MPharm course rose by 11% in the autumn 2019 intake to 3,743 students, from 3,372 students the previous year. And in 2020–2021, the number rose by a further 10.8% to 4,148 students. 

It is possible that one contributing factor to the increase in 2020 may have been the regrading of A-level results two working days after the results were released, owing to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many students seeing their grades raised as a result.

Andrew Thompson, chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council, said: “Several institutions had recruited well in clearing on the Thursday and Friday — filling courses — only to find the A-level regrading raised the grades of many previously declined near-miss applicants, forcing an overshoot.”

There are also rising numbers of pharmacists entering the profession each year. As of December 2019, the GPhC reported 58,240 registered pharmacists, an increase of 1,015 compared with the previous year.   

With so many conflicting signs, it is hard to see whether the addition of pharmacists to the shortage list will make a significant difference, and perhaps it is no bad thing that (for the next few years at least) the unique skills of pharmacists are in high demand.

Ten Of The Best For Pharmacy & Pharmacology Schools

1. Harvard University, US

No big surprises here – Harvard is well known for its leadership in life sciences, and also ranks as the world’s number one for medicine, biological sciences and psychology.

While the university doesn’t have a pharmacy department, pharmacology features in many of the courses offered at Harvard Medical School. Key areas of research include systems pharmacology, molecular pharmacology, and translational pharmacology.

2. University of Cambridge, UK

As you may expect of Cambridge, research is particularly strong – the university outscores even Harvard on this measure. Major research interests at the Department of Pharmacology include cellular neuroscience, systems neuroscience, cell signalling and ion and drug transport mechanisms. At undergraduate level, the department teaches courses for undergraduates studying natural sciences, medicine and veterinary science. 

3. National University of Singapore, Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) ranks well across all life sciences, but particularly so in pharmacy and pharmacology – both of which have dedicated departments offering a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Pharmacy research focuses on areas such as medicinal chemistry, analytical methods, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, while key pharmacology research topics include neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, preclinical toxicology, and pharmacology of inflammation.

4. University of Oxford, UK

As ever, Cambridge’s historic rival is not far behind. Oxford’s Department of Pharmacology offers taught and research-based master’s programs, and four-year DPhil courses. Major research areas include molecular pharmacology, cardiac pharmacology, neuropharmacology, cell signalling, and pharmacogenetics. 

5. Karolinska Institute, Sweden

One of the world’s most prestigious medical universities, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute ranks well across the life sciences, but especially for pharmacology. Its Department of Physiology and Pharmacology teaches at both undergraduate and graduate level, with key research areas including electrophysiological neuropharmacology, pharmacogenetics, pharmacological neurochemistry and pharmacological pain research. 

Most teaching is in Swedish, but the university does offer English-taught master’s programs, in fields such as global health, biomedicine and health informatics.

6. Monash University, Australia

Monash University has emerged as one of Australia’s top destinations for life sciences subjects. Its Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences offers a wide selection of undergraduate and postgraduate courses – including combinations such as pharmacy and commerce, or pharmaceutical science with chemical engineering. Key research areas include drug candidate optimization, drug delivery systems, medicinal chemistry and medicine use and safety.

7. Imperial College London, UK

Back in the UK again, at first glance you may not think Imperial is especially active in the pharmacy and pharmacology field – in its prospectus the only direct mention of the subjects is in the MSc in Infection Management for Pharmacists.

But in fact, pharmacy and pharmacology are central subjects in many of the taught- and research-based programs within Imperial’s renowned medical and life sciences faculties, including a number of research projects in collaboration with fellow London-based university, UCL.

8. University of Tokyo, Japan

Like all of these pharmacy and pharmacology top ten, the University of Tokyo has strong scores across all indicators used in the QS Rankings by Subject, but especially for employer reputation. This seems to reflect a strong focus on practical training and career preparation at the universities’ Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacy – courses include elements such as six-month hospital placements and training in pharmaceutical business management.  

9. University of Melbourne, Australia

Not far behind its neighbor, Monash, the University of Melbourne is also well reputed in this field. While it doesn’t have a school of pharmacy, its Department of Pharmacology offers majors at undergraduate level, as well as a two-year research training master’s program, two-year MPhil and three-year PhD programs.

10. University of Michigan, US

The University of Michigan’s College of Pharmacy offers programs from bachelor’s up to PhD and PharmD level. It also co-runs several interdisciplinary courses, including an MEng in Pharmaceutical Engineering and a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry.

Research in the field is supported by a number of centers of excellence at the university, including the Vahlteich Medicinal Chemistry Core, the Center for Molecular Drug Targeting, and the Center for Drug Discovery.

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