Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians are key members of the pharmacy and multidisciplinary teams who play an integral role in helping patients to get the most out of their medicines.

Depending where you work, you will be responsible for preparing, supplying and administering medicines, as well as liaising with patients, customers and other healthcare professionals to support safe and effective use of medicines.

Female pharmacy technician and two colleagues

Working life

Pharmacy technicians are registered healthcare professionals who, working under the supervision of a pharmacist, are responsible and accountable for their own accurate and safe practice.

As part of your role, you will work directly with patients, their carers and other members of the healthcare team.

Typically your role will include:

  • providing safe and effective pharmacy services
  • supplying medicines and medical devices to patients, whether on prescription or over the counter and providing information on symptoms and products
  • achieving the best outcomes through a patient’s medicines
  • assembling and accuracy checking medicines for prescriptions
  • providing information to patients, carers and other members of the healthcare team
  • managing areas of medicines supply such as dispensaries
  • supervising other pharmacy staff
  • responding to patients’ and customers’ questions both face to face and over the phone
  • pre-packing, assembling and labelling medicines
  • referring problems or queries to the pharmacist

Where will I work? 

In a hospital, you could be involved in the aseptic preparation of medicines, taking medication histories from patients, and reviewing medicines, providing advice to patients about how to make the most of their medicines, and giving advice on different treatment options. Your role will support the relationships between the wards and clinical areas, patients and pharmacy services.

In community pharmacy, as well as managing the supply of medicines, you may offer advice to patients and carers on public health initiatives such as stopping smoking, and provide expertise on different treatment options for patients in a specialist area, such as mental health or general practice.

Many pharmacy technicians work in primary care roles in general practice and care homes. These roles involve reviewing and recording the medication those patients should be taking, ensuring sufficient supplies, administering medicines, and counselling patients to support their understanding on how to use their medicines safely.

Must-have skills

Pharmacy technicians are expected to communicate effectively with the healthcare team, patients and the public, whilst respecting and maintaining confidentiality and privacy.

As a pharmacy technician you need to be:

  • accurate and methodical
  • responsible
  • able to pay attention to detail
  • ready to refer to the pharmacist when necessary
  • able to understand law and guidelines on medicines
  • able to read and follow instructions
  • interested in people’s health
  • able to explain clearly to members of the public
  • able to demonstrate excellent customer service skills
  • able to demonstrate excellent organisational, science and manual dexterity skills

Entry requirements

To practise as a pharmacy technician in England, Scotland and Wales, you'll need to complete an accredited course and register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). 

GPhC-approved courses/qualifications are also available through a level 3 pharmacy technician apprenticeship. To apply, you'll need to be employed and working in a pharmacy to meet the required minimum number of experience hours working within the pharmacy environment, under the direct supervision of a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.

Employers, including the NHS, offer jobs for trainee pharmacy technicians.

Training and development

Training to become a pharmacy technician involves the completion of a two-year training programme. It combines practical work experience with study, either at a college or by distance learning.

Courses cover:

  • human physiology
  • disease management
  • actions and uses of medicines
  • pharmacy manufacturing
  • pharmacy law
  • medicines optimisation
  • checking of self and others
  • professionalism

You will be required to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with annual continuing professional development (CPD) and formal revalidation with the General Pharmaceutical Council. 

Where your career can take you

In hospital and industry, pharmacy technicians manage the technical aspects of dispensing services and manufacturing medicines. You could become a senior pharmacy technician, responsible for the work of other pharmacy technicians and support staff.

There are also many career opportunities for pharmacy technicians within the military or the health and justice care system (prison service).

Many experienced pharmacy technicians progress into management and leadership roles. You could also specialise in a particular area of clinical practice such as mental health, oncology (cancer treatment) or paediatrics. Pharmacy technicians also specialise in areas such as medicines management, manufacturing, quality control, education and training, information technology, supplies procurement, clinical trials or medicine information services.

Once qualified, many pharmacy technicians join the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK(APTUK), the national professional leadership body for pharmacy technicians working in all pharmacy sectors across all four countries of the UK.

Pay and benefits

In the NHS, you'll work a 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 (AfC) pay scale. You’ll also have access to a generous pension scheme and health service discounts, as well as at least 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays. Terms and conditions can vary for pharmacy technicians outside of the NHS, including those working in community pharmacies, or for other employers that provide NHS services.

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