Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians are senior members of the pharmacy team who manage and prepare the supply of medicines and give advice to patients and customers. 

In community pharmacy, pharmacy technicians may also be involved in delivering some public health services such as advice on stopping smoking.

Female pharmacy technician and two colleagues

Working life

The role pharmacy technician is regulated and has developed significantly in recent years. You will carry out some of the same tasks as a pharmacist, engaging with patients and managing the supply of medicines in a community pharmacy, and liaising with other members of the healthcare team.

In a hospital, you could manage the pharmacy department, be involved in taking medicine histories from patients and reviewing medicines, counselling, and giving advice on different treatment options. You may also work on implementing IT systems, governance and medication safety. You will likely provide a link between wards, patients and the pharmacy, or manufacture medicines where ready-made preparations are not available.

In community pharmacy, pharmacy technicians may give advice to patients on stopping smoking, and provide expertise on different treatment options for patients in a specialist area, such as mental health or general practice. 

The work of a pharmacy technician includes: 

Where do pharmacy technicians work?

Pharmacy technicians work as part of healthcare teams in hospitals, primary care (including GP surgeries) and community pharmacies. Some work in retail pharmacies in supermarkets or on the high street, in care homes or for other employers that provide NHS services.

They can also be found working in health and justice services, the armed forces and industry.  

Entry requirements

To practise as a pharmacy technician, you have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). To register, you need to study for an accredited qualification such as:

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). Find courses on our course finder.

Employers usually ask for at least 4 GCSEs (9-4/A*-C), including English, maths and two science or equivalent qualifications. It will help your application 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.

Skills and personal characteristics

Pharmacy technicians need to be confident to work with all sorts of people, have good communication skills (including listening and the ability to explain clearly) and be organised. You need to be:

You also need good customer relation and organisational skills, science skills and good manual (hand) skills. 

Training and development

Training to become a pharmacy technician usually takes two years. It combines practical work experience with study, either at college or by distance learning. Courses cover:

Level 3 apprenticeships for pharmacy technicians are available with some employers. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and Find an Apprenticeship website.

To practise in Great Britain, pharmacy technicians must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and have satisfied the Council that it meets its detailed requirements. Registered pharmacy technicians have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual continuing professional development (CPD). Find out more about CPD

Once qualified, many pharmacy technicians join the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK). The APTUK runs courses, conferences and seminars where pharmacy technicians can exchange ideas and update their skills.

Qualified and experienced pharmacy technicians can go on to study to become a pharmacist. 

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