SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.
SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED QUALIFICATION: 

Occupational Certificate: Pharmacist's Assistant (Post Basic) 
SAQA QUAL ID QUALIFICATION TITLE
112807  Occupational Certificate: Pharmacist's Assistant (Post Basic) 
ORIGINATOR
Development Quality Partner - HWSETA 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY NQF SUB-FRAMEWORK
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
QUALIFICATION TYPE FIELD SUBFIELD
Occupational Certificate  Field 09 - Health Sciences and Social Services  Preventive Health 
ABET BAND MINIMUM CREDITS PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL QUAL CLASS
Undefined  133  Not Applicable  NQF Level 05  Regular-ELOAC 
REGISTRATION STATUS SAQA DECISION NUMBER REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE
Registered  SAQA 08127/19  2019-12-05  2024-12-05 
LAST DATE FOR ENROLMENT LAST DATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT
2025-12-05   2028-12-05  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

PURPOSE AND RATIONALE OF THE QUALIFICATION 
Purpose:
The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as a Pharmacist's Assistant (Post Basic). This prepares a learner to progress to a Pharmacy Technician. A Pharmacist's Assistant (Post Basic) performs a range of tasks in the various categories of pharmacy.

A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Apply basic scientific knowledge to provide technical support in delivering pharmaceutical services.
  • Provide technical support for the ordering and management of stock of medicines, scheduled substances and medical devices in compliance with Good Wholesaling and Distribution Practice (GWDP) and Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) requirements.
  • Provide technical support for the manufacture, packaging and re-packaging of non-sterile medicines and scheduled substances in compliance with cGMP guidelines under the supervision of a Pharmacist.
  • Provide technical support for the compounding, manipulation and preparation of non-sterile medicines and scheduled substances (extemporaneous compounding) in compliance with standards as described in the GPP rules and Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) guidelines under the supervision of a Pharmacist.
  • Provide technical support to dispense prescriptions and to sell medicines in compliance with legal requirements, including GPP.

    Rationale:
    South Africa currently has nine pharmacy schools producing a limited number of pharmacists. The medicine supply is key to the effective delivery of healthcare. Consequently, it is important to manage pharmacy human resources effectively and efficiently to meet the healthcare needs of this country.

    There is an urgent need to increase pharmacy human resources, and following a global trend, pharmacy support personnel can fill that workforce gap. The South African Pharmacy Council must ensure that Pharmacy Support Personnel (PSP) are suitable for:
  • The National Health Insurance,
  • The re-engineering of primary healthcare services,
    And
  • For facilitating the State President's initiative, Operation PHAKISA for the ideal clinic realisation.

    The need to increase the productivity and responsibilities of the PSPs especially in areas around medicine supply chain and dispensing became apparent with the thrust to release the pharmacist to focus more on patient care. The evolution of a more patient-centric role for the pharmacist is a global phenomenon, and the PSP must support this change.

    PSPs may practice in both private and public sector pharmacies. The scope of practice for PSPs allows them to work, under the direct personal supervision of a pharmacist. The scope also allows to work in four categories of pharmacies, i.e.
  • Community,
  • Institutional (private or public hospital),
  • Manufacturing.
    And
  • Wholesale pharmacy provided that they are competent to practice and are appropriately registered with Council to practice in that category of pharmacy.

    Typical learners will be school leavers and those working in various categories of pharmacy with no formal qualification. Benefits to the learner include a nationally recognised qualification and part qualifications that will improve current knowledge skills and competencies in performing support functions in a pharmacy. Further, this qualification provides improved access to acquiring skills as full-time employment is no longer a requirement for registration of a learner.

    Benefits to the country include the fact that this qualification will serve as a national benchmark for PSP at all three levels Basic, Post Basic and Pharmacy Technician. Besides, there will be improved utilisation of pharmacy human resources and an improvement in the quality of PSP.

    Society will benefit from an occupational qualification which, combined with its part qualifications, will increase employment opportunities for many. The increased productive capacity of PSP means that the pharmacists are free to focus more on patient care. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    RPL for access to the external integrated summative assessment:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result or certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for access to the qualification:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements.

    Entry Requirements:
    Pharmacist's Assistant (Basic) NQF Level 4. 

    RECOGNISE PREVIOUS LEARNING? 

    QUALIFICATION RULES 
    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge and Practical Skill Modules:

    Knowledge Modules:
  • 321301000-KM-03, Stock Management, Level 5, 4 Credits.
  • 321301000-KM-06, Non-sterile Manufacture, and, Sterile, Medicine, Level 5, 6 Credits.
  • 321301000-KM-09, Compounding of Sterile and Non- sterile Extemporaneous Preparations, Level 5, 4 Credits.
  • 321301000-KM-11, Dispensing, Level 5, 12 Credits.
  • 321301000-KM-16, Administration and Housekeeping, Level 4.
  • 321301000-KM-17, Body Systems, Disorders and Commonly used Medicines, Level 5, 15 Credits.
    The total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 44.

    Practical Skill Modules:
  • 321301000-PM-02, Manage Stock, as per Current Legislation, Level 5, 6 Credits.
  • 321301000-PM-05, Manufacture Non-sterile and Sterile Medicines, Level 5, 8 Credits.
  • 321301000-PM-08, Compound Sterile and Non-sterile Extemporaneous Preparations, as per Current Legislation, Level 5, 6 Credits.
  • 321301000-PM-10, Dispense Medicines, Level 5, 14 Credits.
  • 321301000-PM-13, Perform General Housekeeping and Administrative Tasks in the Pharmacy, Level 5, 3 Credits.
  • 321301000-PM-16, Identify Anatomical Structures, Level 5, 15 Credits.
    The total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 52.

    Work Experience Modules:
  • 321301000-WM-02, Processes to Manage Stock as per Legislation, Level 5, 8 Credits.
  • 321301000-WM-05, Processes to Manufacture Non- sterile and Sterile Medicines, Level 5, 5 Credits.
  • 321301000-WM-08, Processes to Compound Sterile and Extemporaneous Preparations, Level 5, 6 Credits.
  • 321301000-WM-10, Processes to Dispense Medicines, Level 5, 15 Credits.
  • 321301000-WM-13, Processes to Perform General Housekeeping and Administrative Tasks in the Pharmacy (Post Basic), Level 5, 3 Credits.
    The total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 37. 

  • EXIT LEVEL OUTCOMES 
    1. Apply basic scientific knowledge to provide technical support in delivering pharmaceutical services.
    2. Provide technical support for the ordering and management of stock of medicines, scheduled substances and medical devices in compliance with GWDP and GPP requirements.
    3. Provide technical support for the manufacture, packaging and re-packaging of non-sterile medicines and scheduled substances in compliance with cGMP guidelines under the supervision of a Pharmacist.
    4. Provide technical support for the compounding, manipulation and preparation of non-sterile medicines and scheduled substances (extemporaneous compounding) in compliance with standards as described in the GPP rules and GMP guidelines under the supervision of a Pharmacist.
    5. Provide technical support to dispense prescriptions and to sell medicines in compliance with legal requirements, including GPP. 

    ASSOCIATED ASSESSMENT CRITERIA 
    Associated Assessment Criteria Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Explain legislation related to the relevant scope of practice in pharmaceutical services in the South African context.
  • Demonstrate ethical and professional conduct related to the relevant scope of practice in the provision of pharmaceutical technical support services.
  • Explain basic pharmaceutical terms and concepts concerning sterile drug delivery systems and their routes of administration.
  • Explain basic scientific principles and applied to sterile pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Explain basic concepts of anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology in the context of common, acute and chronic conditions.

    Associated Assessment Criteria Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Explain the principles of GWDP concerning the management of stock.
  • Conduct the ordering and management of stock of medicines, scheduled substances and medical devices appropriate to the scope of a post-basic according to SOPS, and following cGMP, GPP and GWDP.
  • Perform stock counts to determine needs for stock replenishment.
  • Assess stock holding for slow-moving, expired, discontinued and short-dated stock.
  • Complete documents and records maintained following applicable legislation, process documentation and SOPs.
  • Quarantine expired, damaged, recalled medicines and medicines received from patients and ready them for safe disposal, according to SOPS.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Comply with pharmaceutical and cGMP principles and legislative requirements for the manufacture, packaging and / or re-packaging of sterile medicines and scheduled substances using aseptic techniques.
  • Monitor and control environmental and storage conditions for materials according to SOPs.
  • Select and implement procedures to quarantine products and materials.
  • Apply legal and special requirements for scheduled substances under the guidance of a PT or pharmacist.
  • Control and issue materials (including packaging material), according to the procedure.
  • Perform in-process control testing and in-process checks.
  • Secure labels and over-printed material are appropriately and discard unused, damaged or rejected labels according to SOPS.
  • Complete all documents and maintain records following cGMP guidelines.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • Comply with the principles of GPP concerning the compounding of non-sterile and sterile medicines and substances.
  • Perform calculations to determine the quantities of ingredients.
  • Compound an emulsion and suspensions following instructions (formulas), relevant techniques, SOPs and process documentation, and according to the principles of cGMP and/or GPP.
  • Generate records for each of the preparations produced following legal requirements and organisational policies and procedures.
  • Check, clean and sterilise equipment according to SOPs.
  • Perform housekeeping activities according to SOPs.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 5:
  • Conduct communication with patients/caregivers in a professional manner with sensitivity to patients' needs and diversity.
  • Prepare prescriptions and dispense them following current legislation, GPP and organisational procedures.
  • Obtain, in the case of Scheduled medicines, relevant information and history and decide on a suitable qualification of action in consultation with a pharmacist.
  • Provide medicines and/or appropriate advice according to GPP.
  • Refer a patient and/or prescription to a pharmacist for further management as needed.
  • Maintain relevant records following current legislative requirements, including GPP.
  • Promote basic hygiene, infection control and a healthy lifestyle.
  • Perform pharmacist Initiated Therapy (PIT) according to SOPs.

    Integrated Assessment: Integrated formative assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated summative assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant QCTO Assessment Quality Partner, is required to issue this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the exit level outcomes and associated assessment criteria.
    The external summative assessment will be a test conducted through an evaluation of written and practical tasks covering critical aspects in a simulated environment at an assessment centre accredited by QCTO and conducted by a registered assessor. 

  • INTERNATIONAL COMPARABILITY 
    The aim of the international comparability was to examine Pharmacy Technician qualifications of other countries and to compare the South African qualification against international best practice in this field. The comparability exercise focused on New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

    New Zealand:
    In New Zealand, the National Certificate in Pharmacy (Technician) (Level 5) with strands in Community, and Hospital includes the following unit standards:
  • Apply legislation, codes, and standards to the supply of products and services as a pharmacy technician.
  • Compound non-aseptic pharmaceutical products under the supervision of a pharmacist.
  • Dispense prescriptions and pharmaceutical orders under supervision.
  • Apply procedures for handling hazardous substances as a pharmacy technician.
  • Provide advice on the use of dispensed medicines as a pharmacy technician.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of pharmaceutical dosage forms and accessories.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of pathogens, infections, and anti-infective therapy.
  • Demonstrate knowledge, as a pharmacy technician, of drug dosing, action, adverse effects, and misuse and dependence.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of human nutrition and nutritional states as a pharmacy assistant or pharmacy technician.
  • Provide written and oral advice as a pharmacy technician.
  • Manage stock within a pharmacy as a pharmacy technician.
  • Demonstrate professionalism as a pharmacy assistant or pharmacy technician.
  • Make conversions and perform calculations for compounding and dispensing as a pharmacy technician.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of human nervous and endocrine systems and medicines used in their treatment.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of human cardiovascular and respiratory systems and medicines used in their treatment.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of human digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems and medicines used in their treatment.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of human musculoskeletal, integumentary systems, eye and ear and medicines used in their treatment.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of human immune system and malignant disease and medicines used in their treatment.

    Certificate in Pharmacy (Specialist Technician) (Level 6):
    The purpose of this qualification is to provide the pharmacy sector with specialist pharmacy technicians who carry out a range of specialist pharmacy services. This qualification is for people employed pharmacy technicians, and who are wishing to enter into a specialist pharmacy technician role with management leadership responsibilities.

    Qualification structure:
    Learners complete the following qualifications:
  • Effective Communication.
  • Learning and Development.
  • Leadership and Management for Effective Teamwork.
  • Pharmacy Operational Management.
  • Pharmacy Law and Ethics.
  • Quality Assurance in Pharmacy Practice.
  • New Zealand Health Care System.
  • Specialist Project 1 Specialist Dispensing.
  • Specialist Topic - Patient and Medicine Management.
  • Specialist Topic - Operational.

    Ireland:
    In Ireland, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Pharmacy Technician Qualification (Level 3 Diploma in Pharmacy Services Skills) prepares pharmacy technicians to assist pharmacists in ensuring the delivery of a high-quality pharmacy service in an efficient, safe and cost-effective manner.

    Qualification Structure: Year 1
    Underpinning Knowledge Modules covering: Introduction to working in a pharmacy and Stock Control; Pharmacy Practice and Procedure; Law and Ethics; Irish Medicines Schemes; Role of the Technician; Actions and Uses of Drugs - various BNF categories; Pharmaceutical Science and Dispensing and Product Formulation.

    Year 2: The Institute of Technology Carlow offers a Higher Certificate in Science - Pharmacy Technician Studies. This qualification provides learners with the administrative and clinical skills required to work in a retail or hospital environment. It offers a blend of academic knowledge, hands-on experience and real-world training in a pharmacy environment. The qualification addresses:

    Pharmaceutical chemistry and human physiology - the study of how the body functions.
  • Drug actions and uses - understanding human diseases and the drugs used to treat these diseases.
  • Formulation and compounding - understanding how drugs are made and the regulations surrounding safe dispensing.

    Special features of the qualification include:
  • Weekly work experience throughout the qualification.
  • Six month-full-time work placement between first and second year at either a retail or hospital pharmacy.

    As part of the work placement module, learners may work abroad for eight weeks under the supervision of registered pharmacists.

    Participation in conferences, poster competitions and lectures by guest speakers from the pharmacy industry will ensure that learners are well-grounded in all areas of work available to pharmacy technicians.

    Subjects Year 1: Mandatory: Regulations and Dispensing; Human Physiology; Drug Actions and Uses 1; Pharm Chemistry, Form and Comp; Pharm Admin & Work Placement; Pharm Calculations and Computing; Over the Counter; Communication, Innovation and Teamwork.

    Year 2: Mandatory: Drug Actions and Uses 2; Pharmacy Practice; Aseptic Techniques; Work Placement.

    The details of many of these subjects indicate the resonance of the South African qualification with this qualification.

    Canada:
    Humber College in Canada offers a Pharmacy Technician Diploma which prepares learners for various careers in pharmacy including community, hospital and long-term care settings. Qualifications focus on legislation, physiology, pharmacotherapeutics, customer care, health-care ethics, hospital and retail software systems, inventory management, hospital practice, and infection control.

    Semester 1:
  • Community Pharmacy Management Pharmacy Calculations 1.

    Semester 2:
  • Pharmacy Calculations 2.
  • Professionalism and Ethics.
  • Pharmacy Dispensing Theory.
  • Pharmacy Dispensing Lab 1.
  • Pharmacotherapeutics 1.
  • College Reading and Writing Skills.
  • Pharmacy Dispensing Lab 2.
  • Institutional Dispensing Lab 1.
  • Hospital Practices and Pharmaceutics.
  • Pharmacotherapeutics 2.

    Semester 3:
  • Pharmacy Dispensing Lab 3 Institutional Dispensing Lab 2 Aseptic Compounding Pharmacotherapeutics 3.
  • Professional Communications: Pharmacy Technician.

    Semester 4:
  • Professional Communication and Collaboration Pharmacy Technician Work Experience Pharmacotherapeutics 4.

    USA:
    In the United States, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the accrediting body for pharmacy technician programs. ASHP-certified programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools. Qualification work covers technical and practical training in the following areas:
  • Pharmacy law.
  • Pharmacology.
  • Pharmacy ethics.
  • Anatomy.
  • Healthcare systems.
  • Physiology.
  • Medical terminology.
  • Pharmaceutical calculations.

    Most programs allow learners to gain clinical experience during their training. Depending on state laws, learners may also choose to gain on-the-job training without enrolling in a postsecondary education program. Clinical experience may take the form of a structured training program at a retail drugstore that has partnered with the school. Another option is to complete hands-on training at an approved pharmacy or medical centre.

    A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam.

    Botswana:
    In Botswana, the Boitekanelo College offers the Higher National Diploma in Pharmacy Technology qualification. A total of 98 credits are from the general and core qualifications plus six (6) Credits from the two optional qualifications for each learner. The credits are distributed among 11 core qualifications, 3 general education qualifications and 2 optional qualifications. There will be one-week registration period, one week for examinations, one reading week, one mid-semester break and 14 weeks of teaching, making a total of 18 weeks. Each learner should register for all general and core qualifications plus any two optional qualifications during the entire period of training.

    Tanzania:
    In Tanzania, the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences offer the Diploma in Pharmaceutical Sciences. The former institution offers it over 3 years. However, there is a paucity on the qualification structure and qualification outlines.

    Zimbabwe:
    In Zimbabwe, the Pharmacy Technician qualification of the US-based Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center is taught by a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Harare Polytechnic. This program allows learners to complete TOPS requirements and seek education in a four-year college. A major emphasis of this qualification is the national exam. Learners will be instructed in materials required on the national exam.

    The learner will take the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) examination. This qualification is designed to prepare the learners for entry level positions as a pharmacy technician. The qualification also introduces the learner to other opportunities available in the pharmacy field. Emphasis is placed on skill development in assisting the pharmacist to record and maintain records, label medications, perform computer patient billing, perform stock inventory, and order supplies.

    Additional emphasis is placed on interpersonal skill development, telephone skills, drug classification and interactions, and work ethics. Topics of study are mathematics specific to the pharmaceutical field. Appropriate work-based strategies are service learning, field trips, and job shadowing.

    Namibia:
    In Namibia, the University of Namibia offers the Diploma in Pharmacy the duration of which is three years. Holders of this qualification are able to:
  • Undertake practice as a pharmaceutical technician within the legal requirements in a professional and ethical manner.
  • Provide pharmaceutical care under the supervision of the pharmacist.
  • Effectively manage medicines inventory in a pharmacy setting.
  • Design and implement strategies to promote rational and safe use of medicines in healthcare.
  • Use and maintain pharmaceutical equipment in an industrial setting.
  • Promote good dispensing and pharmacy practices in a pharmacy setting.
  • Effectively control the medicine supply system at the health facility.
  • Design and conduct medicine use audits and research at the health facility.
  • Assist the pharmacist in the provision of pharmaceutical information.
  • Design and implement Standard Operating Procedures to control the quality of medicines and services.
  • Implement the basic concepts of primary healthcare related to pharmacy.
  • Organise and conduct activities in quality analysis and pharmaceutical sciences.
  • Assist in the regulatory process of the registration of medicines.
  • Competently administer and undertake management duties in a pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist.
  • Competently contribute to therapeutic committee at a primary healthcare facility.

    Many, though not all of these competencies, correspond with the competencies of this qualification.

    Conclusion:
    The qualifications from all the countries identified resonate substantially with the South African qualification. There is a paucity of information on the nature and structure of the qualifications. The New Zealand qualification compares most favourably with this qualification. 

  • ARTICULATION OPTIONS 
    This qualification has the following articulation possibilities.

    Horizontal Articulation:
  • Occupational Certificate: Office Administration, Level 5.

    Vertical Articulation:
  • Occupational Certificate: Pharmacy Technician, Level 6. 

  • MODERATION OPTIONS 
    N/A 

    CRITERIA FOR THE REGISTRATION OF ASSESSORS 
    N/A 

    NOTES 
    Qualifying for external assessment:

    In order to qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required standards by means of statements of results and work experience. Foundational Learning Competence for the Pharmacy Assistant (Basic).

    Additional legal or physical entry requirements:
    Must be sighted.

    Criteria for the accreditation of providers:
    Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the QCTO website.

    The curriculum title and code is:
  • 321301000: Pharmacy Technician.

    This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the NLRD:
    This is not a trade qualification.

    Related Part-Qualification:
  • Occupational Certificate: Pharmacist Assistant (Basic), Level 4. 

  • LEARNING PROGRAMMES RECORDED AGAINST THIS QUALIFICATION: 
     
    NONE 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS QUALIFICATION: 
    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
     
    NONE 



    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.