What is a pharmacy technician?

Pharmacy technicians are senior members of the pharmacy team, whose role involves managing and preparing the supply of medicines, while providing patient counselling on how to take these medicines safely. Pharmacy technicians may also be involved in delivering certain public health services, for example, providing advice on stopping smoking.

A pharmacy technician’s duties and responsibilities include:

  • Preparing medicines
  • Receiving, loading, unloading deliveries
  • Delivering medicines to other parts of a hospital or health centre
  • Taking in and handing out prescriptions
  • Dispensing prescriptions
  • Using computer systems to generate stock lists and labels
  • Selling over-the-counter medicines
  • Ordering items
  • Answering customers questions face to face or by phone
  • Referring problems or queries to the pharmacist
  • Pre-packing, assembling and labelling medicines
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Where can pharmacy technicians work?

Primarily, pharmacy technicians typically work as part of healthcare teams in organisations across different health divisions. Some of the most common workplaces pharmacy technicians would likely work in include:

  • Hospitals (NHS and private)
  • Primary care
  • GP surgeries
  • Community pharmacies
  • HMP Prison
  • MOD – healthcare divisions
  • Pharma Life – Sciences
  • High street retail (pharmacies/supermarkets)
  • Care homes

Note that pharmacy technicians can work in many healthcare environments for any employer providing NHS services.

What qualifications does a pharmacy technician need?

To practice as a registered pharmacy technician in UK, you need to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council. To get registered, you’ll require an accredited qualification such as:

  • BTEC National Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science
  • Level 3 NVQ/SVQ in Pharmacy Services
  • National Certificate in Pharmaceutical Science

Visit General Pharmaceutical Council for more information.

It’s important to note that the process differs for non-UK registrants. If you’re a registered pharmacy technician in a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), additional qualifications must be completed in the UK before you can apply to register including:

  • Completion of one of the recognised competency-based qualifications listed in the criteria for registration as a pharmacy technician.
  • Completion of one of the recognised knowledge-based qualifications listed in the criteria.
  • Having a minimum of two years’ work-based experience in the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands. You can also have a shorter period, but you must be able to provide evidence that you’re qualified and were eligible to practise as a pharmacist or pharmacy technician in a country outside the EEA.

Important skills for a pharmacy technician to possess

To become a pharmacy technician and excel in the role, you should possess certain skills and characteristics such as:

  • Methodical working and thinking
  • Excellent attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good understanding of the pharmacy law
  • Effective communication
  • Positive working dynamics in a multidisciplinary team
  • Excellent interpersonal, problem solving and time management

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What is a pharmacy technician’s salary?

Pharmacy technicians fall into NHS salary bands 4, 5 and 6. Here are the annual pay scales for each band.

BandEntry step point (£)Eligible progressionIntermediate step point (£)Eligible for progressionTop step point (£)
Band 425,1473 years27,596
Band 528,4072 years30,6392 yeas34,581
Band 635,3922 years37.3503 years42,618

Please note that pharmacy technicians working in and around London may qualify for Higher Cost Area Supplements (HCAS) rates. You can find HCAS pay scales on NHS Employers.

Working as a locum pharmacy technician

As a locum pharmacy technician, the duties and responsibilities will remain the same – however, this is on a temporary basis. As a locum technician, you’ll have control of your own earning potential and working hours, which gives you the freedom and complete flexibility on how long you wish to work for.

For many, this allows those to take career breaks, explore travelling options and offers a positive work/life balance. As a locum, there are always vacancies available – ranging from short-term or medium contract to more permanent long-term contracts.

Benefits of working as a locum pharmacy technician

There are certain benefits that come from working as a locum pharmacy technician compared to a full-time role including:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Training opportunities – route of entry from community pharmacy into hospital pharmacy
  • Opportunity to relocate for work opportunities across the UK and overseas
  • Financially rewarding – premium hourly rates of pay
  • No lengthy notice periods – one week’s notice period is required for all locum contracts.
  • Opportunity to work in other healthcare settings from private hospitals, HM Prisons, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). and within primary care.

Hourly pay rates for locum pharmacy technicians

This is subject to locations, as certain locations have higher salaries than others:

  • Band 4: £15-17 per hour
  • Band 5: £18-20 per hour
  • Band 6: £21-£24 per hour

How to become a pharmacy technician with Pulse

Looking to become a pharmacy technician or looking for your next role in pharmacy technology? Register with Pulse today.

To become a pharmacy technician, you must be:

  • Registered with the GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council)
  • Have at least 1 year’s UK hospital experience
  • Have an NVQ level 3/BTEC equivalent in pharmacy services
View our pharmacy technician jobs and apply online

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