This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists to prepare and give out medicines.
Trainee pharmacy technicians usually earn
$36K-$42K per year
Qualified pharmacy technicians usually earn
$42K-$56K per year
Source: Auckland DHBs/PSA MECA and Pharmacy Guild of NZ, 2017.
Pay for pharmacy technicians varies depending on their experience.
- Pharmacy technician trainees usually earn between $36,000 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.
Source: 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 figures and diagrams in our job 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.
- usually work regular business hours
- work in pharmacies/chemists and hospitals.
What's the job really like?
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.
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.
- Academy New Zealand website - information on pharmacy technician training
- Kauri Academy website - information on pharmacy technician training
- Open Polytechnic website - information on pharmacy technician training
- Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand website - information on pharmacy technician training
- Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand website - information on pharmacy technician qualifications
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.
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 for pharmacy technicians includes working as a pharmacy assistant, or other health or laboratory work.
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.psnz.org.nz
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.
Pharmacy technician appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled pharmacy technicians from overseas to work in New Zealand.
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 techncians 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.
- 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).
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.
Last updated 2 June 2017