As GP surgeries become ever busier, pharmacies are coming into their own – and there is a range of job opportunities at all levels.
Pharmacies offer so much more since the days when they helped you manage your medication and advised whether you needed to see the doctor. They also advise on adopting healthier lifestyles, from quitting smoking to eating the right food, and work closely with doctors on the selection, dosage, side-effects and interactions of medications.
As experts in medicines and their uses, pharmacists are in charge of helping their patients get the right medication, dispensing it to them correctly and safely, and making sure they take it in the right way.
Depending on where they work, they may also be the first port of call for patients who feel unwell, before they go to their GP. Liaising with other healthcare professionals on how to use medications will also be part of the role, as will monitoring and reviewing users of long-term medication.
Although the majority of pharmacist jobs are in hospitals or primary care pharmacies, there are many other settings, including small independent pharmacies and pharmacy networks with branches across the UK.
You could also work for a company specialising in distributing medicines to people at home.
What you’ll need: To become a pharmacist you will need to complete a four-year master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm), undertake a year’s training in a community or hospital pharmacy known as pre-registration training – before passing a final registration exam to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
What can I earn? As a newly-qualified NHS Pharmacist, you’ll earn just over £26,000 a year. When experienced, you can earn up to £40,964 a year.
The Pharmacy Technician is a key member of the pharmacy team. Supervised by a pharmacist, this role involves preparing items of medicine for prescriptions and liaising with patients.
What you’ll need: Apprenticeships and traineeships are both valid routes into working as a Pharmacy Technician. To start, you will need four GCSEs including maths, science and English.
What can I earn? If you work for the NHS, you can earn between £19,000 and £22,236 a year. With experience, expect to see this rise to £28,180. If you work for a large pharmacy chain, your salary, plus bonuses, could be more.
For this role, you are more involved with the customer service side of working in a pharmacy, dealing with prescriptions, stock taking, answering customer queries and packing medicines. With experience, you could become a supervisor.
What you’ll need: There are no entry requirements, but you need good literacy, numeracy and IT skills. You may also need GCSEs.
What can I earn? You will start at around £15,251.