How to get a job working in the UK as a pharmacy technician

8 November 2021  •  Locum
How to get a job working in the UK as a pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians play an important role in the pharmacy. They work under a qualified pharmacist and are responsible for preparing and dispensing medicines to patients. This is a rewarding job for the right individual, so in this article, we cover how to get pharmacy technician jobs in the UK.

What does a pharmacy technician do?

Pharmacy technicians are usually based in a dispensing pharmacy, with both permanent and locum pharmacy jobs available. Permanent jobs are usually found in high-street pharmacies, while locum pharmacy jobs are usually found in hospitals/doctors surgeries.

Responsibilities of the pharmacy technician include:

  • Receive and confirm prescription orders
  • Prepare and filling prescriptions
  • Answer customer queries
  • Manage inventory
  • Supervise other pharmacy staff

Working as a pharmacy technician is a rewarding role that can lead to further career advancement for the right individual. So if you are working in a similar role abroad and would like to transfer your skills to the UK, what qualifications and visas do you need before looking for work?

What qualifications do you need?

You do not need a degree to work as a pharmaceutical technician in the UK, but you will need to hold either an NVQ in Pharmaceutical Sciences, the BTEC National Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science or an international equivalent qualification. You can find out more about which qualifications are acceptable on the GPhC website.

- GPhC Registration

You will also need to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). To do this you will need proof of your qualifications and you may have to complete a period of work experience.

The GPhC stipulates that two years of work experience must be completed working under a qualified pharmacist. However, suitably qualified pharmacy technicians from overseas may be eligible to reduce this period by providing evidence of:

- Details of any non-EEA pharmacist or pharmacy technician qualifications

- Proof of eligibility to practice in the country of qualification

Failure to provide the above information will result in you having to complete two years of supervised work experience for a minimum of 14 hours per week.

Registering with an agency

Once you are approved to work in the UK, you will need to register with an employment agency to find work. Most NHS Trusts use a list of approved agencies that operate under the approved NHS Code of Practice.

You should only register with an agency that appears on the approved list. Always be wary of an agency promising work in the UK that does not appear on the approved list. Particularly one that charges a fee for registration.

Globe Locums is an approved locum pharmacy agency for the NHS. As a result, we always have a large number of locum pharmacist jobs listed on our site. Check out the latest pharmacy jobs here.

What visas are available

Because experienced healthcare professionals are in high demand across the NHS, the UK government has released a fast-track health and social care visa for healthcare professionals. This new visa has a reduced fee compared to other skilled worker visas and is not subject to the immigration health surcharge.

You can find out more about the new visa here.

Students from overseas that are studying in the UK for either the NVQ in Pharmaceutical Sciences or the BTEC National Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science can come to the UK on a standard Tier 4 Student Visa.

However, this will need to be changed to a Tier 2 Visa before starting your two years of work experience as foreigners are not allowed to work under the rules of a Tier 4 student visa. Failure to upgrade your visa may result in you working in the UK illegally.

You can find out more about which is the most suitable visa for your circumstances here. Alternatively, check out our UK Visa guide for locum healthcare professionals.

How much demand there is for pharmacy technicians in the UK post COVID-19

There is always a high demand for pharmaceutical roles both within NHS hospitals and community pharmacies. Several factors including Brexit, COVID and the creation of Primary Care Network’s (PCN) across the UK have accelerated the need for pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy vacancy rates

A report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises the government about vacancy rates across the UK, says that there is a national shortage of pharmacy technicians.

This is backed up by data from the NHS Benchmarking Network Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation Project. The annual report shows the vacancy rate for hospital pharmacies across the UK climbed to 8% in 2019, up from 6.9% in 2015.

This is likely to have increased further in 2020-21 due to strains on the NHS as part of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, all pharmacist roles were added to the Home Office shortage occupation list in March 2021.

This makes it easier than ever for qualified individuals to come to the UK and work as pharmacists or pharmaceutical technicians. New applicants benefit from reduced visa fees and do not have to pay the healthcare surcharge.

How much do pharmacists earn?

The salary for a pharmacy technician is dependent on experience. A newly qualified pharmacy technician in a full-time role can expect to earn around £22,000 per year, whilst more experienced staff earn an average of £37,000 per year.

Qualified pharmacists earn even more, with salaries starting at £31,365 for newly qualified pharmacists, rising to £37,890 after a few years of experience. The average salary for a qualified pharmacist in the UK is £44,973.

This is the average UK salary for a permanent role and is based on a 39-hour working week.

How much is a permanent vs locum role?

Locum roles are semi-permanent and contract-based so pay more. Locum rates for qualified pharmacy technicians range from £17-£20 per hour. While rates for qualified pharmacists range from £29-£34 pounds per hour.

This means locums earn nearly 10-15% more than permanent staff. Locums are self-employed however and will not be entitled to statutory sick or holiday pay. They will also be responsible for paying their own income tax and national insurance contributions.

You can find the latest locum pharmacy jobs listed on Globe Locums here.

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