Help and Advice for people who are seeking a placement in a pharmacy or dispensary

As all General Pharmaceutical Council accredited courses are vocational, in order to enrol on one you would need to be working at least part time in a UK registered pharmacy/dispensary.

Career Pathways

Please click here to view a career pathways diagram, which should give you a better idea of how your career in pharmacy services could progress.

'Finding a Placement'


Although Buttercups does not have the capacity to find placements for learners, we do run a vacancy matching service which you may find helpful - click here to access the service.

To find a placement, I suggest checking pharmacy job sites (C+D Jobs is good) and also enquiring with pharmacies, hospitals and supermarket pharmacies in your area, to see whether there are positions available.

National Apprenticeship Service

If you meet the following criteria, then apprenticeship funding may be available for you, which would be a great way to find a placement:

'Learners must live in England and have either been a resident in the UK and Islands for 3 years prior to enrolment, or have been a national of the European Union for 3 years. Learners cannot be in full time education, and must be aged 16 years old or above.

Unfortunately, anyone who has obtained a higher education qualification at Level 4 or above in a pharmacy related subject, including a first degree by a recognised university or institution, is likely to be ineligible for apprenticeship funding. Apprentices should ideally work for a minimum of 16 hours a week. Please note that funding is a limited resource and cannot be guaranteed.'

Please click here to access the National Apprenticeship Service.

Popular Course Options for Starting out in Pharmacy


The courses that you could consider completing once you have gained a placement are the Medicine Counter Assistant (MCA) Course or the Dispensing Assistant Course (Level 2 Equivalent). These can be completed whilst working or volunteering part-time (or full time) in a pharmacy/dispensary for a couple or more hours a week, however, you would need to seek permission and support from the employer to enrol.

Unaccredited Course Options (for people who don't have a placement)

As you currently do not have a placement you could consider the 'So you want to work in a pharmacy?' Course. This course contains information about different types of pharmacies and the services they offer, as well as some sample training materials of courses that pharmacy staff must study. The course is not an accredited qualification and so will not guarantee employment in a pharmacy, but should help you in finding and preparing for interviews.

You could also consider the unaccredited version of the MCA course for £55.00 (+VAT) online, which could be transferred to the accredited version once you start working in a UK registered pharmacy. In order to do this, please submit this enrolment form for the Medicine Counter Assistant (MCA) Course, but leave the 'Company Details' section blank (this is not an accredited course in itself and would not allow you to legally work in a pharmacy without completing further training).

Alternatively, you may wish to complete the Knowledge for the Level 2 Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (NVQ)(QCF) as the underpinning knowledge for the Dispensing Assistant Course (Level 2 Equivalent) (again, this is not an accredited course in itself and would not allow you to legally work in a pharmacy without further training).

If you do have any further questions of queries please email these to