If you’ve found this article, you may well be considering a career as a pharmacy technician. In this post, we cover what exactly is a pharmacy technician, how to become a pharmacy technician, and what qualifications and skills are required.
What is a pharmacy technician
Pharmacy technicians are pharmacy professionals who play an essential part in keeping the pharmacy running smoothly and ensuring patients receive the highest standard of care and service. Working under the supervision of a pharmacist, pharmacy technicians liaise with patients, dispensing their medicine and offering advice on how best to manage the medication and handle any side effects. They can also refer patients to other health care professionals, for example doctors, pharmacists, nurses and A&E if required.Pharmacy technicians don’t just perform patient-facing duties. They also play an important role behind the scenes, measuring and mixing medications, carrying out inventory and stock take for the pharmacy, and ordering more pharmaceutical equipment and materials when needed.
How to become a pharmacy technician
The main requirement to become a pharmacy technician is completing a two year pharmacy technician course that must be accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Most of these courses have entry requirements of at least four GCSEs at grades A* - C / 9 – 4.
Once you’ve completed the pharmacy technician course, you can then register with the GPhC as a pharmacy technician and work as a fully registered pharmacy tech.
The two years of training consist of educational training as well as practical work experience. The theoretical side of it can be classroom based or distance learning – the main thing is that it’s accredited by the GPhC. Pharmacy Technician courses cover things like disease management, pharmacy law and how to use medicines to manage health conditions. The qualification awarded at the end of most of the GPhC recognised pharmacy technician courses are either a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma or an NVQ/SVQ.
The practical, on the job training consists of a total of 1,260 hours of work experience as a trainee pharmacy technician. You must spend a minimum of 14 hours a week on your work experience, and this can be in any pharmaceutical setting, as long as you are under the direct supervision of a qualified pharmacist or pharmacy technician. You can’t register with the GPhC until two years after your work experience begins, so even if you complete your 1,260 hours quicker, you wouldn’t be able to register any sooner.
After you have completed your two year pharmacy technician course and built up the sufficient work experience hours, you can officially register with the GPhC to become a fully qualified pharmacy technician.You may then also wish to pursue further education and training later in your career as a pharmacy technician, for example training to become an Accuracy Checking Technician.
How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician?
Almost all of the pharmacy technician qualifications recognised by the GPhC take two years to complete. On completion of an approved course, a pharmacy technician is able to register with the GPhC. So in most cases, it takes around two years to become a registered pharmacy technician.
What skills are required to become a pharmacy technician
There are a number of skills and attributes that will help you become a good pharmacy technician. Firstly an interest in healthcare and a desire to help people is essential. You will spend your working day in a healthcare setting, dealing with (often unwell) members of the public. So this drive to deliver good outcomes for your patients will help you push on when things get tough.
It’s also important that you’re a good communicator. Pharmacy technicians are often the most public-facing role in a pharmacy. So being able to communicate effectively with the public, but also your colleagues (pharmacists, doctors, nurses, healthcare industry suppliers etc.) will ensure you can perform your job better.
The best pharmacy technicians are also very responsible and organised. If you become a pharmacy technician, you will be handling medicines and prescriptions, so organisation is key to ensuring patients receive the correct prescription. Additionally, pharmacy techs often handle inventory and ordering, so organisational skills will help you keep on top of the pharmacy stock.
How much do pharmacy technicians earn?
Pharmacy technicians usually fall within band 4 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, meaning they start at £23,949, and can go up to £26,282 after a few years’ experience. Senior pharmacy technicians can expect to earn something in the region of £32,000.
Hopefully this post has given you an insight into how to become a pharmacy technician and what to expect during your training. If you're also interested in finding out more about how to become a pharmacist, check that post out too. Good luck in your journey to becoming a pharmacy tech, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us once you’re qualified if you need help finding work as a pharmacy technician!