How to become a Chemist in Australia


To many people, a chemist wears a white coat and serves behind a shop counter, fulfilling our prescriptions or providing basic advice on how to treat everyday illnesses like the common cold. We always place our confidence in a chemist – and we typically do not take the time to consider what is required to become one.

Becoming a chemist is one of Australia’s most trusted and esteemed professions, and they have a strong presence in every community and for a long time as well.

Being a chemist is much more than making or allocating drugs, and the scope of a chemist’s work reaches far past the community shop-front level. Although there are some areas of a chemist’s job that are not widely known, they often, however, contribute to making our everyday lives so much easier. 

The general qualities of chemists can be broadly summarized as follows:

  • Great attention to detail,
  • Highly organized with reliable management skills,
  • Effective and clear verbal and written communication skills,
  • Exceptional problem-solving skills,
  • The ability to reach logical decisions,
  • The ability to work autonomously and within a team environment,
  • The ability to establish an affinity with other healthcare professionals and customers.

To become a fully registered chemist in Australia, you must achieve the following:

  1. An authorized college degree in pharmacy, 
  2. A one-year paid internship, and a corresponding training intern program, within a drug store,
  3. Sit and pass the registration examination that the Pharmacy Board administers.

Complete a College Degree in Pharmacy

Anyone can apply to study pharmacy as an undergraduate college student straight from high school if they meet the minimum scores required for entry and have the necessary English language requirements.

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High School Chemistry and Biology are recommended but not essential for applying. However, students who have not completed these subjects at school are firmly advised to take a pathway course before commencing any tertiary level pharmacy studies.

At most Universities, applicants can choose from either:

  • Studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy – which is a four-year full-time degree. Students will learn how drugs are produced and how different medicines can affect the human body.
  • Studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy and Management – which is a five-year full-time degree. Students will not only learn all of the Pharmacy subjects, but they will also learn how to apply business and management knowledge to their chemist practice.

Complete a One-year Internship with a Parallel Intern Training Program

After graduating from college with a degree in pharmacy, you will be obligated to apply for the ‘provisional’ registration certification with the Pharmacy Board of Australia. This application will enable new graduates to finish their one-year paid internship under a fully qualified chemist.

While working under the direction and guidance of a registered chemist, an intern will build on the practical experience attained during their formal studies. 

The following chemist skills will be acquired during the one-year internship phase:

  • Providing advice on prescription medicines, ‘over-the-counter’ goods, and complementary medicines,
  • Preparing and administering medicines and ointments,
  • Cross-checking for mistakes or errors and accompanying medication reviews,
  • Liaising with patients, patient’s doctors, and their family or next of kin to ascertain medication history and to administer the correct dosages,
  • Understanding legally acknowledged standards and government guidance for the supply of all medicines,
  • Raising and promoting health awareness.
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During this phase of supervised practice, interns must also finish an authorized Intern Training Program (or ITP). Those College graduates who complete the Intern Pharmacy Training A, and the Intern Pharmacy Training B modules of study, automatically qualify for the accredited ITP Certification.

Sitting and Passing – Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Registration Exam

Successful completion of the training and internship program will grant those permission to register and sit the Pharmacy Board’s registration exam. The examination comprises of two sections, both a written and an oral component. Successfully passing the Board’s registration exam makes those eligible for general registration so as to work as a chemist in Australia.

Chemists require this formal registration to seek employment in a mixture of clinical specialties and settings, including community and hospital pharmacies, government, consultancy, and industrial, commercial positions.

If you are Migrating to Australia and wanting to work as a Chemist

If you are an overseas trained chemist, you must register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia and sit an exam with the Australian Pharmacy Council. Note that chemists who have been previously accredited in New Zealand are exempt from this process. Successful candidates are then asked to complete an unspecified period of supervised chemist practice that has been allocated to them by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.


Pharmacy is the study of the evolution and development of drugs used for treatment and their remedial effects on the human body. Chemists are medications experts who apply their clinical knowledge to practical situations and are vital to the overall healthcare system.

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About the Author: Derek John

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