Pharmacy technician

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Pharmacy technician

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Summary of occupation

Dispensary technicians assist pharmacists to prepare and dispense medicines. They receive customers' prescriptions, and prepare and mix the medicines under the supervision of a pharmacist. Dispensary technicians may also package medicines prepared by a pharmacist and apply warning labels and instructions. Those working in retail pharmacies will operate cash registers and may also be involved in selling a range of cosmetics, over-the-counter medicines and other goods. In some cases, these workers may also offer advice to customers about possible treatments for certain health-related conditions. Dispensary technicians working in a hospital are often responsible for delivering medicines to the wards.

ANZSCO description:
Fills and labels patients' prescriptions
 under the supervision of a Pharmacist. May record details of, place
 orders for, take stock of, and store medications and medical supplies
 and deliver them to patients.
Alternative names:
Dispensary Technician
Specialisations:
Job prospects: Average 
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A dispensary technician needs:

  • to work carefully and methodically
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to follow instructions
  • mathematical ability
  • the ability to treat customers' needs sensitively and confidentially
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Working conditions

Dispensary technicians generally work in retail pharmacy stores or in hospital pharmacy departments. These environments are generally kept very clean and are well lit and ventilated. Dispensary technicians have a high-level of contact with the public and follow strict regulations when providing advice to customers and selling certain types of medicines. Hours of work can vary, depending on the specific workplace. Many dispensary technicians work regular retail hours, which can include working on weekends and some public holidays. However, some retail pharmacies and many hospital pharmacies operate 24 hours a day, requiring dispensary technicians to work in shifts, which may include working nights and on weekends.

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Salary details

Medical technicians, which include dispensary technicians, can expect to earn between $600 and $875* per week, depending on their level of experience and the organisation they work for.

*ABS Census (2006)

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Tools and technologies

Dispensary technicians use sensitive scales to weigh precise amounts of medicines and medical ingredients. When preparing medicines they may be required to wear protective clothing, such as gloves, masks and smocks, to avoid contaminating medicines. They will also need to be familiar with standard retail equipment, including cash registers, EFTPOS and credit card machines, barcode readers and pricing label guns.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can become a dispensary technician with no qualifications, however, you will generally need significant experience working in a pharmacy environment. It may improve your employment prospects if you complete a recognised course in pharmacy.

The Certificates III and IV in Hospital/Health Services Pharmacy Support provides the knowledge and skills required to work in a hospital-based pharmacy as a dispensary technician. This qualification generally takes 1 year to complete and is offered by Central Institute of Technology (Mount Lawley campus). In order to enrol in the Certificate IV qualification you must first complete the Certificate III.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia run training programs in Community Pharmacy and Dispensary Assistant Training. These courses include the Certificate III and IV in Community Pharmacy and a short course based on the competencies from the nationally accredited Retail Services training package. Contact the Guild for full details of course availability and costs.

You may also complete a traineeship in Community Pharmacy (Level 2 or Level 3). As a trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification. Visit the ApprentiCentre to find out more. Each of these traineeships usually takes twelve months to complete.

If you are still at school
Talk to your schoolʼs VET Coordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools.

If you get a full-time traineeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for a traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification. Visit the ApprentiCentre to find out more.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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