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Pharmacy technician Pharmaceutical technician

Pharmacy technicians prepare and supply medicines for prescriptions, under the supervision of a pharmacist.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £19,500 to £41,750 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

To become a pharmacy technician, you'll need 4 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and science, or equivalent qualifications.

You'll need to look for work as a pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician. Once you've found this, you'll do on-the-job training over 2 years. You'll work towards qualifications which show your knowledge and skills like the:

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Pharmacy Service Skills
  • Level 3 Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science

You'll then need to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

You could get into this through an apprenticeship.

You could also start as a pharmacy assistant and work your way up.

As you may be working with children or vulnerable adults, you'll need enhanced background checks which your employer will arrange for you.

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) has information on training and career prospects.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • good maths and IT skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • the ability to explain instructions clearly to customers
  • administration skills for record keeping

3. What you'll do

You could work in:

  • a hospital
  • a community-based pharmacy
  • a supermarket
  • the prison service
  • the armed forces
  • the pharmaceutical industry
  • a GP practice

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • choosing the correct items for a prescription
  • weighing ingredients, measuring liquids and counting tablets
  • putting together ointments and medicines
  • making sure prescriptions are legal and accurate
  • creating labels to tell people how to take medicine
  • ordering new stock using computerised systems
  • giving advice to customers about prescription and over-the-counter medicines
  • handling confidential information

4. Salary

Starter: £19,500 to £22,750

Experienced: £23,500 to £27,250

Highly Experienced: £31,750 to £41,750

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, including weekends and evenings, on a rota.

In a hospital, you may have to work nights.

Your employer will usually provide a uniform and protective clothing.

6. Career path and progression

In a hospital, you could move to:

  • an administrative or supervisory post
  • a specialist role like clinical technician, working with healthcare professionals and patients on wards
  • a specialist area of work like oncology, paediatrics, or clinical trials
  • research and development

In a pharmacy, you could become a supervisor or manager.

In industry, you could move into more specialised areas of development and production, or move into sales or marketing.

Another option is to become a pharmacy assessor working with trainee pharmacy technicians.

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Last updated: 02 April 2018