Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists, and work either in a community or retail pharmacy or in a hospital or clinical pharmacy.
Community or Retail Pharmacy Technician
You could be:
- checking details of prescriptions, weighing or counting pills or measuring liquids
- preparing labels
- selling medicines and other items, such as cosmetics, to customers
- advising customers on how to take a course of medicine
- checking stocks and ordering supplies
- referring customers to the pharmacist if need be
- keeping records of customers and stock
- handling cash.
Hospital or Clinical Pharmacy Technician
You could be:
- preparing medicines and delivering them to hospital departments
- checking that dosages are correct and that each department has the correct supplies
- making up medicines, diet substitutes and intravenous medication
- checking stock and ordering supplies
- keeping records as required.
Within the NHS Agenda for Change scales, pharmacy technicians' salaries are usually on Band 4, £20,911 to £23,597 a year. This can rise to Band 5, £23,113 to £29,905 a year with experience. The current pay scales are from September 2018.
Starting salaries for pharmacy technicians who work outside the NHS are often based on the National Minimum Wage. The starting salary is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
As of 1 April 2018 the National Minimum Wage is £4.20 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17, £5.90 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £7.38 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24. The National Living Wage is £7.83 for workers aged 25 and over.
With experience this can rise up to around £12.00 an hour.
- Community pharmacy technicians work in shops, where hours are regular and may include weekends or evenings.
- Hospital pharmacy technicians work in hospital laboratories or dispensaries or in health centres and may have to work shifts.
- All pharmacy technicians have to wear a white lab coat or other protective clothing.
Workforce Employment Status
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- You would start by applying for a job as a trainee pharmacy technician or work your way up from a post as a Pharmacy Assistant.
- You need English, Maths, Biology or Chemistry at National 4 or National Certificate qualification (NC) Pharmacy Services.
- You do not always need qualifications to get into an NC in Pharmacy Services, but some colleges ask subjects at National 5.
- To work as a pharmacy technician you need to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). You can do this on completion of the necessary qualifications and two years' work experience (see 'Training' below).
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- numerate and good at calculations
- accurate when measuring medicines and keeping records
- able to explain information clearly
- a good organiser
- able to follow written instructions
- discreet in dealing with confidential information
- able to get on well with people from a wide range of backgrounds
- patient and empathetic when dealing with members of the public.
- Training is on the job with part time study leading to an NC in Pharmacy Services (if you do not already have this) and an SVQ in Pharmacy Services at SCQF Level 6.
- These qualifications are accredited by the GPhC and meet the knowledge and competence requirements for registration.
- Successful completion of the qualifications and completing two years of consecutive work experience (minimum of 14 hours a week) leads to state registration with the GPhC.
- Buttercups Training offers a full range of training courses for pharmacy technicians.
- You will be required to keep your skills and knowledge up to date by undertaking continuous professional development (CPD) courses throughout your career.
- You could do extra training and study to become an Accuracy Checking Technician (ACT). Buttercups Training Ltd run courses.
- You could work in quality control in a hospital.
- In larger retail pharmacies, you could specialise in marketing or sales.
- You might move on to work as a manager.
- There is a graded promotion scheme in the National Health Service (NHS).
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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