Retail Pharmacy and Retail Sales Assistant


Would you enjoy being at the front-end of pharmacies, interacting with people, giving advice on over-the-counter medicines, and healthcare products? Would you like to acquire skills in make-up application, customer service and retail selling? Could you see yourself advising on beauty and make-up products? There are many new job opportunities in the expanding retail pharmacy sector, and with these qualifications you be well placed to gain full-time employment and advance your career.

Career Opportunities

BFEI Graduates can look forward to interesting, rewarding and challenging careers with a wide range of employment options in:

  • Pharmacies

  • Health Stores

  • Department Stores – Cosmetic Sales

  • Beauty or Healthcare Sales Representatives

  • Reception in Healthcare field

Course Structure

The emphasis will be on providing learners with specialist knowledge on over-the-counter medicines, beauty products, nutrition, customer services and retail selling.  Learners will also be provided with an opportunity to acquire skills in make-up application.

Core Elements
  • IPU Medicines Counter Assistant Certificate
  • QQI Certificate in Community Health Services
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • First Aid Responder (FAR)
  • Retail Selling
  • Reception and Frontline Skills
  • Word Processing
  • Safety and Health at Work
  • Customer Service
  • Work Experience
  • ITEC Certificate in Make-Up
  • Course Code

  • RPA
  • Duration

  • 1 year - full time September to May
  • Number of places

  • 30
  • Number of contact hours per week

  • 22-26
  • Timetable contact

  • 5 days

I completed the Retail Pharmacy Assistant Course at BFEI in May 2016 as a mature student achieving an overall Distinction. Having chosen Retail Pharmacy as the course most suited to my interests but with no experience, I felt somewhat daunted and nervous. This course offered so much more than I expected and provided me with valuable skills and knowledge that will stay with me. There was a broad range of age groups in the class and this added to the atmosphere and contribution during classes. My time spent in BFEI was both exciting and challenging and I gained a lot of confidence in myself. I would like to say a very big thank you to BFEI and all the Tutors for their vision and practical guidance without which I would never have reached my goal,

- Bernie Quinn, RPA Graduate, 2016 -

Support Elements
  • You will also be given the opportunity to complete Manual Handling Training which is an essential qualification in a Pharmacy.
  • Career advice and help with CV preparation is provided by the BFEI Guidance and Career Service.
Assessment and certification
  • The Medicines Counter Assistant (Heathcare and Babycare Products) is certified by the IPU. The IPU exam takes place in April/May.

  • The Make Up Application Unit and Cosmetic Product Knowledge are certified by ITEC
    Case studies are required for ITEC units. ITEC applies a rigid set of standards governing attendance, learning and examinations.

  • The remaining subjects are certified by QQI.

  • Assessment is based on a combination of work submitted during the year and exams.

  • Learners who successfully pass all 8 QQI subjects will be awarded a QQI Level 5 Certificate in Community Health Services (5M4468).

More Level 5 Courses at BFEI

Entry Requirements

  • Leaving Certificate/LCA

Applicants should have achieved five passes OR five O6/H7s OR a combination of five O6/H7s OR have achieved the LCA with a Merit profile.

  • Other including Mature Students

If you are a mature student (aged 21 or over) and do not hold the Leaving Certificate, then you are welcome to apply. Each application will be assessed individually.

Advisory Meeting

Applicants will have an advisory meeting to offer guidance and to ensure course suitability. Places will be offered, on a first come basis, following the outcome of the personal Advisory Meeting, subject to the applicant meeting the entry requirements of the course. Applicants will also be advised on course costs and registration details.


At course commencement, students are required to pay for books, exams, €200 PLC Government Levy (unless exempt), a Student Services charge and where applicable professional body registration fees.  There are no tuition fees for EU students.


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