Pharmacy technician

Healthcare
Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would prepare and supply prescription medicine to treat people’s illnesses and health conditions.

You could be based in a community or hospital pharmacy. You’d work under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist.

You would:

  • Select the correct items to make up a prescription
  • Weigh out ingredients, measure liquids and count out tablets
  • Put together ointment mixtures, and medicines
  • Make sure prescriptions are legal and accurate
  • Create labels which give information about the medicines and how to use them
  • Order new stock using computerised systems

If you work in a hospital pharmacy you might be responsible for making up medicines for patients who are having cancer treatment. These need to be made in special sterile conditions to avoid contamination. It is especially important in these cases to be as accurate and methodical as possible.

You would also be responsible for making sure that each department in the hospital has the right amount of medicine in stock. With experience, you could specialise in a particular area such as quality control, clinical trials or medicines information services.

If you work in a community pharmacy, you would talk with customers to:

  • Advise them about prescription medicines and over-the-counter products
  • Advise about healthy living
  • Explain how to deal with minor illness

Some pharmacy technicians also provide a stop smoking service.

You’d need to be able to explain things clearly. People may be embarrassed about their health conditions so you’d need to have tact and discretion.

You would refer them to a pharmacist or healthcare professional when necessary.

You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on the Pharmacy technician page on the NHS Scotland Careers website.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, including weekends and some evenings. You may be expected to work on a rota based system. Part-time hours are also often available.

Environment

Your employer will usually provide you with a uniform and protective clothing if working under sterile conditions.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Explaining things
  • Working as part of a team
  • Helping customers
  • Being tactful
  • Accuracy
  • Using computers
  • Working with numbers
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but most employers value a good general education. Some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5.

Once in a job you will work towards a National Certificate in Pharmacy Services (SCQF 6) or a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Pharmacy Services (SVQ level 2/3). 

These qualifications are accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and meet the knowledge and competence requirements for registration. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Human biology
  • Business
  • ICT subjects
  • Care

You will also need

To work as a pharmacy technician you need to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). 

To register you need to successfully complete:

  • One of the accredited qualifications
  • Two years of work experience

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show customer care skills, an understanding of science and of the health sector, such as Skills for Work Health Sector (SCQF level 4/5) or Laboratory Science (SCQF level 5).

A National Certificate in Pharmacy Services (SCFQ level 6) before entering employment may be useful but not essential.