You'll dispense medicine, give pharmaceutical advice, and be in charge of ordering medical supplies.
Pay after training
16 - 29
Similar civilian jobs
- Hospital pharmacy technician
- Community pharmacy technician
- Pharmaceutical representative
- Pathology technician
Citizen of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth citizen since birth
male or female
Qualifications you need
Four GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/2 minimum or 4 SNEs at Grade 5 or equivalent, including English Language, Maths and two approved science subjects. This role requires a Physics based science subject. Please check by reading this document (opens in a new window).
Qualifications you can gain
NVQ Level 3 in pharmaceutical services or BTEC National Certificate in pharmaceutical science
Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.
As a Pharmacy Technician, you’ll provide professional pharmacy support and advice at medical centres on RAF stations and at Defence Secondary Care Agency hospital units in the UK and Cyprus.
As in the civilian sector, your main roles will be dispensing medication, giving pharmaceutical advice and providing logistical support by ordering and looking after medical supplies.
Pharmacy Technicians in the RAF can expect a greater range of responsibility, tasks and working locations than in civilian life, including the opportunity to take part in operational deployments.
In Medical Logistics, you could be based at a military Medical Distribution Centre, where you will supply units with medical equipment, supplies and medication. There are also opportunities to work with the Headquarters Tactical Medical Wing, where you would be responsible for the maintenance, co-ordination and deployment of operational medical modules for deployed RAF medical teams.
I do this job
‘My main job satisfaction comes from seeing the people’s faces when they get better and knowing I’ve been a part of that.’
‘I work in the dispensary, where I hand out medication to patients, as well as making up creams and ointments. I’m also responsible for dispensing all the controlled drugs, which are kept locked up. The other side of the job is the medical stores. I order all the medication and medical equipment such as first aid kits and oxygen cylinders, which also means checking in all the supplies as they arrive and entering the batch numbers and expiry dates onto the computer.’
‘Pharmacy Technician is a small trade – I’m the only one on this station – but it’s not lonely because you’re working alongside Medical Assistants and administrators; we work very much as a team. Part of my job is overseeing the two Medical Assistants and bringing them up to speed on the pharmacy side of things.’
‘I really enjoyed my basic training at RAF Halton. You’re up late at night and early in the morning for inspections, but I really enjoyed it. We learnt about everything, from weapons and first aid to the history of the RAF. I think being ex-Air Training Corps gave me an advantage; they’re pushing you to get the best out of you and as long as you remember that it’s great fun.’
‘The station’s a bit like a mini Britain – everything you need is here. If you want to go out every night you can. I play hockey on Monday nights, there’s a women’s football game on Wednesdays and every Friday night the medical centre has its own bar, the Stiff Inn. But if you want to get out and about, there’s the whole of Germany and Holland out there, so you get the chance to explore other parts of the world.’
Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.
If you are joining with no qualifications as a Pharmacy Technician, your training will commence with a short Induction visit to the Department of Pharmacy and Medical Supply (DPMS) at Defence Medical Services Training Group (DMSTG) at Aldershot in Hampshire.
You will then be detached to a NHS hospital pharmacy department to undergo a two-year course leading to the award of Diploma level 3 in Pharmacy Service Skills (competence).
In addition you will undertake day release to a College where you will undergo a Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science (knowledge).
On successful completion of both courses you will return to Aldershot for a Professional Topics and Defence Medical Information Capability Programme (DMICP – the computer system used in RAF Medical Centres) course and a medical supplies course, which involves both practical and written assessments: followed by a six-week placement at Headquarters Tactical Medical Wing.
Finally you will complete a placement at a RAF Medical centre for a three-month period under the supervision of Senior Pharmacy Technician; you will then be given your first assignment.
You will then be required to complete a First Aid course at DMSTG within 12 months.
If you are joining as a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Registered Pharmacy technician, you will complete the First Aid course, the Professional Topics, DMICP and the Medical Supplies course.
You will also undertake the placements; after which you will receive your first assignment.
Your first tour
After training your first tour will be to a unit where you can consolidate your initial training and broaden your specialist knowledge. This is usually at a RAF Primary Healthcare Medical Centre.
As a Pharmacy Technician, there are extensive opportunities for continuous professional development throughout your career, including the chance to gain higher civilian professional qualifications. You can apply for funding for courses through the RAF Medical Services. This will assist you in completing and recording of your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) entries as part of the mandatory registration process with the professional regulator the GPhC.
You will initially join the RAF for a period of nine years and graduate from your training course with the rank of Senior Aircraftman (Technician).
You are eligible for promotion to Corporal after one year of productive service and to Sergeant after four years in the rank of Corporal.
Further promotion to the rank of Flight Sergeant and beyond is by competitive selection.
The qualifications you can earn are as valuable in the civilian world as they are in the RAF. Your CPD will keep you abreast of change and up to date with your civilian counterparts – this means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you will be well placed to find employment in pharmacy.
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