Pharmacy Technician

Kaihangarau Rongoā

Alternative titles for this job

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists to prepare and give out medicines.

Pay

Trainee pharmacy technicians usually earn

$37K-$42K per year

Qualified pharmacy technicians usually earn

$42K-$56K per year

Source: Auckland DHBs/PSA MECA and Pharmacy Guild of NZ, 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a pharmacy technician are good due to a shortage of workers.

Pay

Pay for pharmacy technicians varies depending on their experience.

  • Pharmacy technician trainees usually earn between minimum wage and $42,000 a year.
  • Qualified pharmacy technicians can earn between $42,000 and $52,000.
  • Hospital pharmacy technicians who take on additional responsibilities can earn up to $56,000.

Sources: Auckland District Health Boards/PSA, 'Allied, Public Health and Technical Multi Employer Collective Agreement, to October 2017; Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand, 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Pharmacy technicians may do some or all of the following:

  • receive prescriptions
  • prepare and mix medicines under the supervision of pharmacists
  • pack and label medicines
  • issue, deliver and keep records of completed prescriptions
  • maintain stock levels
  • help in the day-to-day running of the pharmacy
  • organise and repack bulk supplies into smaller containers for hospital wards and departments
  • deliver medicines to hospital wards.

Skills and knowledge

Pharmacy technicians need to have knowledge of:

  • medicines and the laws controlling their distribution
  • hazardous substances and how to handle them
  • first aid
  • the human body and how it is affected by different medicines.

Working conditions

Pharmacy technicians:

  • usually work regular business hours
  • work in pharmacies/chemists and hospitals.

What's the job really like?

Jaron Otene

Jaron Otene

Pharmacy Technician

What is your main role?

"We have a system for any patient receiving multiple medications – it's called blister packs. I make them up into weekly or monthly packs, and the final check is done by the pharmacist before they are given out to customers."

Is working in a retail pharmacy pressured?

"It can be stressful getting everything done in the pharmacy, especially around Christmas and the statutory holidays, but it helps that our team all get on very well together."

What do you find most satisfying?

"I particularly enjoy helping people. I make deliveries of medications to the elderly people in the area – something I've done since I began working at the pharmacy. It's a community thing.

"One morning I did a delivery of medication to an elderly man. I was there in just the nick of time to catch him before he fainted. I rang the ambulance and got him into a comfortable position. When he was out of hospital he came into the pharmacy to thank me."

Jaron Otene is of Taranaki iwi descent.

Entry requirements

To become a pharmacy technician and do basic dispensary work only you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Pharmacy Technician (Level 4).

To become a fully qualified pharmacy technician you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Pharmacy Technician (Level 5).

You can qualify in one of three ways:

  • Distance study through Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, while you do paid work of at least 20 hours a week in a community or hospital pharmacy
  • Full-time study for 72 weeks at Academy New Zealand 
  • Full-time study for 70 weeks at Kauri Academy.

You also need to hold a current first aid certificate.

Secondary education

NCEA Level 2 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English and maths.

Additional requirements for specialist roles:

To become a specialist technician you need to be working as a pharmacist technician and complete a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Specialist Technician (Level 6) through Manukau Institute of Technology.

Personal requirements

Pharmacy technicians need to be:

  • good communicators, friendly, patient and helpful 
  • organised, responsible and careful
  • able to work within a professional code of ethics and keep information private
  • accurate and observant, with an eye for detail
  • good at maths.

Useful experience

Useful experience for pharmacy technicians includes working as a pharmacy assistant, or other health or laboratory work.

Physical requirements

Pharmacy technicians need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

Find out more about training

Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand
(04) 802 0030 - p.society@psnz.org.nz - www.psnz.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Demand for pharmacy technicians is growing because:

  • an ageing population which means an increased demand for health care of all types
  • turnover is high as pharmacy technicians often move into careers in community health or in sales for drug companies
  • pharmacy technicians are taking on some tasks that used to be performed by pharmacists.

Starting as a pharmacy assistant is a good way into the job

Most pharmacy technicians start off as sales assistants in pharmacies before starting pharmacy technician training.

Most pharmacy technicians work at community pharmacies

Most pharmacy technicians work at community pharmacies. A smaller number work in public hospital pharmacies, and a few work in wholesale sales, or manufacturing and research.

Sources

  • Ministry of Health, 'Pharmacy Action Plan 2016-2020', May 2016, (www.health.govt.nz).
  • Neyland, K, membership and events coordinator, Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, May 2017, (www.pgnz.org.nz).
  • Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand Inc website, accessed May 2017, (www.psnz.govt.nz).
  • Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, 'Workforce Demographics', 30 June 2016, (www.pharmacycouncil.org.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Pharmacy technicians may progress to senior positions with further training.

Pharmacy technicians can specialise as a:

Specialist technician
Specialist technicians check that pharmacies comply with legislation, train technicians, manufacture medications, manage dispensaries and do industrial research.
A young female pharmacy technician is standing at the counter of a pharmacy and dispensing medicine to a middle aged woman.

Pharmacy technicians help prepare and dispense medicines

Last updated 16 September 2019