• 23 September 2021
  • 8 min read

What Is The Difference Between A Pharmacist And Pharmacy Technician?

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder
    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 1
  • 204
“The technician will usually work under the supervision of the Pharmacist, although they can strive to become a Pharmacist themselves.”

Do Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians perform the same role? Well, although they share some similarities, there is a significant difference between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Technician.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

What Academic Qualifications Do Pharmacists Need

What Essential Skills Do Pharmacists Need?

What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of Pharmacists?

What Academic Qualifications Do Pharmacy Technicians Need?

What Essential Skills Do Pharmacy Technicians Need?

What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of Pharmacy Technicians?

What Are The Salary Rates For Pharmacists And Pharmacy Technicians

What Are The Career Prospects For Pharmacists And Pharmacy Technicians?

Conclusion

Introduction

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals responsible for the safe use and dispensing of medications.

In addition, they also offer professional advice regarding:

● Over-the-counter medicines for minor ailments

● Side effects due to the interaction of various drugs

Although dispensing medicine can be considered to be their main role, Pharmacists also provide a wide range of other services ranging from measuring a patient’s blood pressure to managing their cholesterol levels.

In Ireland, many Pharmacists, especially those working in hospital and community settings, are employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Meanwhile, although Pharmacy Technicians are also healthcare professionals, they perform much of their work under the supervision of a registered Pharmacist.

Pharmacy Technicians help ensure the safe and smooth operation of the dispensary.

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What Academic Qualifications Do Pharmacists Need?

In Ireland, there are several ways to become a Pharmacist and it often depends on your application with the Central Application Office (CAO).

As for education, you will need the following qualifications:

● BSc (Hons) degree in Pharmacy

● MPharm (NFQ Level 9) It can take at least five years to become a Pharmacist.

You will spend the first four years in school attending lectures and labs.

Meanwhile, in your fifth year, you will focus on a thesis and your placement.

There are three pharmacy schools to choose from:

● Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

● University College Cork

● Trinity College Dublin

To qualify for entry into these colleges, you will need between 555 and 577 CAO points.

You will also need to have obtained satisfactory grades in the following subjects:

● Biology

● Chemistry

● Geology

● Mathematics

● Physics

● Other relevant subjects

Finally, in order to practise in Ireland, you will need to pass the pharmacy exam and then register with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI).

What Essential Skills Do Pharmacists Need?

First, you should have the ability to care for your customers.

You will also need to be:

● Adaptable

● Calm and empathetic

● Comfortable in making tough decisions

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● Capable of critical thinking, communicating, negotiating, problem-solving, organising and leading

● Level-headed

● Reasonable

● Resilient

What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of Pharmacists?

The one crucial difference between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Technician relates to the delegation of duties.

The latter will usually work under the guidance of the former.

Pharmacists have three work settings to choose from:

● Community

● Hospital

● Industry

Community pharmacists often focus on:

● Handling customers’ prescriptions

● Counselling patients with regard to their medications

● Coordinating with doctors over prescription queries

● Ensuring the smooth operation of the pharmacy

● Providing vital services, such as blood pressure monitoring Meanwhile, hospital Pharmacists offer:

● Medication reconciliations

● Medicine use reviews

● Advice to Doctors regarding therapy choices and other similar issues.

They can also specialise in different clinical fields, such as psychiatry or oncology.

Industry Pharmacists can choose to work in a variety of areas, including:

● Clinical trials

● Drug development and research

● Manufacturing or regulatory work

● Quality assurance or control

What Academic Qualifications Do Pharmacy Technicians Need?

According to the HSE, to be a Pharmacy Technician, you will need to obtain any of the following academic qualifications.

1. Pharmaceutical Technician Diploma from the University of Dublin

2. Pharmacy Technician qualification – QQI Level 6 from any of these educational institutions:

● Athlone Institute of Technology

● Carlow Institute of Technology

● Dublin Institute of Technology

● Letterkenny Institute of Technology

3. Pharmacy Services Certificate – NVQ 3 from the Irish Pharmaceutical Union

4. A relevant qualification equivalent to items 2 and 3 above Alternatively, you should be currently working as a Pharmacy Technician in an HSE or other public health service facility.

What Essential Skills Do Pharmacy Technicians Need?

● Adaptability

● Organisation

● Excellent communication skills – verbal and written

● Problem-solving skills

● The ability to think on your feet

● Patience and stamina (the job entails working in a busy environment and talking to multiple customers throughout the day)

● Care and empathy

What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of Pharmacy Technicians?

As a Pharmacy Tech, you will be expected to:

● Maintain the quality of medicine before supplying it to patients

● Make sure the medicine supply complies with legal requirements

● Prepare prescriptions and confirm they are suitable for the patient

● Advise patients regarding their medicine, how they should take it and what reactions they can expect to experience

● Answer patients’ questions.

You will also be the first person to greet customers and take their prescription from them.

Before handing out any medicine, you must remember to check that the prescription is legal.

If a customer has any questions, you can relay them to the Pharmacist.

Your responsibilities are numerous and include:

● Dispensing prescriptions to patients

● Managing and monitoring the prescribed dosages

● Taking care of paperwork, such as invoices and payables

● Preparing and sending the HSE monthly claims

● Purchasing medicines and coordinating with suppliers regarding the pharmacy stocks and inventory

● Keeping the dispensary clean, well-stocked and organised

● Helping patients buy suitable over-the-counter drugs based on their medical condition

Training new employees and arranging proper handover to current staff members

What Are The Salary Rates For Pharmacists And Pharmacy Technicians?

The average yearly wage for a pharmacist is around €68,000.

Meanwhile, a Pharmacy Technician working in government or private facilities can expect an annual salary ranging from €21,000 to €34,000.

Hospitals often offer those in senior positions up to €50,000 per year.

What Are The Career Prospects For Pharmacists And Pharmacy Technicians?

Pharmacists can begin their careers in locum or support roles.

After a year or two, they can pursue a supervisory or superintendent position.

Meanwhile, Pharmacy Technicians may be able to seek promotion within their organisation and progress to a senior position.

It is also possible to become a Pharmacist but this requires further studies and training.

Conclusion

Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians work alongside one another, often in a community or hospital pharmacy.

The technician will usually work under the supervision of the Pharmacist, although they can strive to become a Pharmacist themselves.

As for qualifications, Pharmacy Techs need to obtain a QQI Level 6 or NVQ 3 certificate while Pharmacists will need to undergo at least five years of university training and pass the relevant exam.

Furthermore, in order to practise in Ireland, they need to register with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

Although the two professions require almost the same skills, the duties and responsibilities can vary.

Whilst a pharmacy technician’s salary is often above the country’s average annual wage, a pharmacist’s pay is significantly higher.

As both careers offer rewards and challenges, it is entirely up to you to choose which role will suit your interests, passion and talent.

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About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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      27 days ago

      I am a qualified assistant Even though a dying breed we have made and continue to make a sizeable contribution ... read more