Pharmacy staff perform a crucial role in the healthcare sector, as they work with doctors to ensure patients receive the correct medication. The largest employer of pharmacy staff is the NHS, as all hospitals have drug dispensaries. Private healthcare providers and retail pharmacies across the UK also have a range of employment opportunities for qualified workers.
To become a pharmacist, individuals must complete a four-year MPharm degree approved by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, a 12-month practical pre-registration training course and pass a registration exam. They can then begin work in a hospital, community or primary care pharmacy. Under the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, pharmacists earn between £25,500 and £34,200 a year. That can rise to as much as £80,000 if they progress to a pharmacy manager or specialist job.
Pharmacists need assistants, technicians and accredited checking technicians to help them prepare and dispense medicines. Assistants, who are paid £14,000 to £17,000 a year, are often people in their first job and are expected to study towards an NVQ level 2 certificate in pharmacy service skills. Individuals who wish to become a registered pharmacy technician must undertake a two-year traineeship and obtain relevant level 3 qualifications. Salaries for technicians range from £18,600 to £40,000.
Many permanent vacancies within the NHS are advertised directly, but some trusts and most private sector employers prefer to use specialist healthcare recruitment agencies to find qualified pharmacy staff. This is particularly true for locum jobs, when it may be essential to hire someone quickly.