Pharmacy technicians manage the supply of medicines in a community pharmacy and assist pharmacists with advisory services. In hospitals, they do more specialised work such as manufacturing or preparing complex medicines.
Training and qualifications required
You need to study for an accredited qualification such as a BTEC National Diploma in pharmaceutical science, NVQ/SVQ level 3 in pharmacy services or a National Certificate in pharmaceutical science. To apply for a course, you need to be working in a pharmacy. Employers, including the NHS, offer jobs for trainee pharmacy technicians (or dispensing assistants). Employers usually ask for at least 4 GCSEs (9-4/A*-C), including English, maths and science or equivalent qualifications. A level 3 apprenticeship for pharmacy technicians is also available. It will help your application for a course or apprenticeship, if you can show that you have an understanding of pharmacy and how it benefits patients. It is a good idea to spend some time with a registered pharmacist to see what the work is like.
Expected working hours and salary range
Pharmacy technicians working in the NHS will work standard hours of around 37.5 a week which may include shifts. Newly qualified pharmacy technicians will usually start in the NHS at band 4 of the Agenda for Change pay scale. Terms and conditions can vary for pharmacy technicians outside of the NHS, including those working in high street and retail pharmacies.
Desirable skills and values
Pharmacy technicians need to be accurate and methodical, have an attention to detail, be able to read and carry out instructions and interested in people’s health. You'll need communication, customer service, science, IT and organisation skills.
With experience, you could specialise in a particular area of practice such as mental health, oncology (cancer treatment) or paediatrics. Or you could specialise in areas such as medicines management, manufacturing, quality control, education and training, information technology, supplies procurement, clinical trials or medicine information services. You could also take additional training to extend your practice to include additional responsibilities. You could become a senior pharmacy technician, responsible for the work of other technicians. A chief pharmacy technician is responsible for the day-to-day management of a pharmacy department.