Did you know that the UK’s pharmacy sector has grown by a whopping 75% in the past decade? Pharmacy Technicians play a vital role in any pharmacy team, and now is a better time than ever to explore this professional avenue. Not only is the world of pharmaceuticals a diverse and fast-growing industry, but there is much potential for career growth. If you’re considering becoming a qualified Pharmacy Technician, then this comprehensive guide will take you through the top reasons why you should pursue this rewarding and diverse role!
1. Careers in Healthcare are Expanding
Advancements in the pharmaceutical sector has led to an increase in healthcare roles and the expansion of the Pharmacy Technician role. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics (BSL), Pharmacy Technician jobs are expected to increase by 12% from 2016 through to 2026. Recently, we have also seen a major shift from a product-centred role to a more patient-centred role, in the case of Pharmacy Technicians and assistants. There has also been a significant shift from a business to health-focused approach to providing pharmaceutical services.
2. Become Qualified in Under a Year
Unlike other careers in the healthcare sector, one of the many benefits of working in the pharmaceutical industry is that you can train to become a certified Pharmacy Technician in under a year. Yep – that’s right. In less than 12 months (some programs require only 9 months of study) you could be fully equipped to kickstart your new career in 2020! Pharmacy Assistant requirements include studying for an accredited qualification such as BTEC National Diploma in pharmaceutical science or an NVQ/SVQ level 3 in pharmacy services, which will allow you to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC). Services such as the NHS even offer jobs for trainee Pharmacy Technicians and Dispensing Assistants.
3. An Affordable Education
To become a pharmacy Technician or Dispensing Assistant, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree or masters, or even years of savings. Four GCSEs (A* to C grade, including English, Maths and science) along with a one-year diploma or certification program is all you need to qualify you for the role. This means no student loan repayments or excessive fees, and you don’t have to commit to years of studying. Of course, it goes without saying that you must have a passion for the role and dedication. Another benefit of Pharmacy technician training is that the coursework you need to complete to become a Pharmacy Technician allows you to work around your schedule, and therefore doesn’t interfere with your lifestyle in any conflicting way. Most of the training will be done online, and you can choose to study on a full-time or part-time basis. You must, however, maintain active certification (every two years).
4. Make a Real Difference to People’s Lives
Working in the pharmacy industry can be very rewarding. Not only is the work meaningful, but you are contributing towards saving people’s lives and shaping how the service is provided. From quality-checking products to offering advice to prescribers about their medication, Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in the wellbeing. Of the general population If clinical duties are not for you, then the role of a Pharmacy Technician offers the chance to play a crucial role in the healthcare industry without having to deal with blood, sickness and broken bones. Also, did you know that flu shots are often distributed in pharmacies? That means vulnerable people are relying on you to protect them from this very serious risk to their health.
5. Explore Career Advancement Opportunities
One of the many benefits of becoming a pharmacy technician is that there is plenty of room for career progression in the pharmaceutical industry, as continuous advancements in this sector open doors to new roles, with the opportunity to specialise in a variety of areas. Once you have established yourself in this field and developed specialist knowledge and skills, you will have the chance to explore specialise areas of practice, such as management, mental health, oncology, pediatrics, and even nuclear pharmacy. Of course, becoming a Pharmacy Technician is also a vital step to becoming a qualified Pharmacist, but there is also potential to become a Community Store Manager or Pharmacy Technician Supervisor.
A Pharmacy Technician can progress to the following roles:
Pharmacy Technician Supervisor
Senior Pharmacy Assistant
Medicines Management Technician
Pharmacist Store Manager
6. Work with People from Diverse Backgrounds
The role of a Pharmacy Technician is diverse, which means that you get to work with a variety of people from different social and cultural backgrounds. From dealing with customers to working with the Pharmacist, the nature of the job allows you to work with many different types of people. If you possess excellent interpersonal skills, then you’ll fit right into the role of a Pharmacist Technician, where you will be required to use a person-centred approach. People from different cultural backgrounds may have different beliefs about treatment, so it’s important to have excellent communication skills to offer them the best advice.
7. Increase Your Hireability With Accredited Pharmacy Training
Earning a recognised qualification online is a great way to develop core pharmaceutical skills and knowledge. There are many Pharmacy Technician courses and Pharmacy or pharmacy Assistant courses to choose from, such as Alpha Academy’s Pharmacy Technician Diploma. You can use this qualification to add to your CV, and many pharmacies accept this certification as a valid educational program. Distance learning training courses such as these allow you the flexibility to study from anywhere, anytime, fitting your studies around your schedule.
8. Earn a Stable, Secure Income
Working in pharmaceuticals can prove to be a very lucrative career, with the salary range for a Pharmacy Technician in the UK is £25-30,000, depending on your skills and experience. An entry-level NHS Pharmacy Technician can expect to earn a typical salary of £2,907, working approximately 37.5 hours a week, which may include shift work. There are also some part-time opportunities available. This role offers a great work/life balance, as your work for the day stops as soon as the pharmacy closes. Also, keep in mind that as the demand for Pharmacy Technicians continues to rise, it is expected that the typical salary will also increase, so now is the perfect time to pursue a career in this field!
9. Become Part of a Growing, Evolving Market
2020 is an exciting time to enter the pharmaceutical sector, as Pharmacies are more frequently used as the go-to service for health and primary care services, and the lines between pharmacy roles are becoming more blurred. Because of our ageing population and the development of chronic diseases, prescription dispensing is expected to increase, as the demand for prescription drugs continues to rise. As mentioned in the introduction, the UK’s pharmacy sector has risen by 75% in the past decade. This kind of rapid growth means that roles within the sector will continue to evolve to meet with current industry trends, and there is potential for a Pharmacy Technician to progress to a more senior management role.
10. Work in a Variety of Professional Settings
Gone are the days when pharmacists only worked in four main areas, and only communicated with patients if absolutely necessary. Nowadays, Pharmacy Technicians have the opportunity to work as part of the healthcare team in a wide range of professional settings, including retail pharmacies, registered pharmacies, GP practices, hospitals, care homes, community services, clinical commissioning groups, and even prisons. In community pharmacies, Pharmacy Technicians may be responsible for providing some public health services such as offering advice on issues such as alcoholism and smoking. In a hospital setting, responsibilities could include taking medical histories from patients, providing advice on treatment options and medication safety.
11. Learn Valuable Transferable Skills
During your Pharmacy Technician training and throughout your career, you will develop core skills that go that go beyond the workplace and can be applied to a wide range of industries. These skills include:
- Customer service
- Computer literacy
- Interpersonal skills
- Basic science and maths
- Accuracy/attention to detail
You will learn how medicines effect the body and interact with each other, the legislation surrounding drug development, and will broaden your understanding of basic human biology. In addition to that, you will be learning the names of new drugs and medical terminology, which is essential for any career in medicine. And, unlike some careers, all of the skills that you learn in training, you will have the opportunity to apply straight away on the job. Also, as pharmacy technicians work in teams, you will naturally develop a team-orientated approach to your work.
12. You get to Work with Your Hands
The duties of a Pharmacy Assistant are varied, practical and very hands on. Someone who doesn’t mind being on their feet for most of the day and interacting with people will fit right into this type of working environment. If office life is not for you and sitting by a desk all day staring at a computer screen for hours on end doesn’t appeal to you, then you might enjoy this fast-paced role. You’ll be busy with various duties such as greeting customers, dispensing patients’ prescriptions, measuring and counting medication, delivering medicines and generating stock lists. Each day is different, and so the job will never feel routine, and you’ll constantly be developing new professional and transferable skills.
13. Excellent Working Conditions
Pharmacies are designed in a way that makes working conditions pleasant and comfortable. They are typically well-lit, well-ventilated, climate-controlled buildings, where a polite and professional atmosphere is consistently maintained. Also, because you’re working in the medical industry, you’re always guaranteed a clean and organised working area. And, as mentioned previously, Pharmacy Technicians work the same regular daytime hours as Pharmacists, with no overtime. If the working environment is important for you, then you may want to seriously consider a pharmacy career.
14. You Have “Signing Authority”
Although they do much of the same work, one of the key differences between a Pharmacy Technician and a Pharmacy Assistant is that a Pharmacy Technician have a few more responsibilities, such as having the authority to sign new and refill prescriptions if the prescriber is busy with other duties. Prescriptions are electronically signed and sent straight to the central NHS spine to be downloaded. Pharmacy Technicians are also sometimes required to supervise assistants and are more involved in managing prescriptions rather than carrying out general administrative work.
Is a Pharmacy Technician Role Right for You?
So, if you’re considering a career change, and want to take your first steps towards a rewarding profession in the pharmacy industry, then, you’ve got all the information you need to get started! Now that you’ve decided that a career in the pharmaceutical sector is right for you, it’s important to take action now and start searching for apprenticeship and training opportunities. Taking an online course alongside your training is also highly advised to help you gain the professional skills and confidence to help you to stand out to prospective employees. Lastly, make sure that you’ve done your research and that your CV is up-to-date and highlights the skills and qualities desired for the role. Good luck and happy training!