Over the Counter Pharmacy Assistant


Over the Counter Pharmacy Assistant - Dublin

At BFEI, located in Blackrock, Co.Dublin we offer a one year QQI Level 5 Over the Counter Pharmacy Assistant course.

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 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 will be well placed to gain full-time employment and advance your career. Over 85% of course graduates have secured employment in pharmacies.

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 & Skincare Advisor

  • 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. 

Core Elements
  • QQI Certificate in Community Health Services
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Retail Selling
  • Reception and Frontline Skills
  • Word Processing
  • Safety and Health at Work
  • Customer Service
  • Work Experience
  • IPU Medicines Counter Assistant Certificate
  • Course Code

  • OTC
  • Duration

  • 1 Year – full time September to May
  • Number of Places

  • 30
  • Number of contact hours per week

  • 20
  • Timetable contact

  • 5 Days Mornings Only

It is with great satisfaction that I can say that I graduated with Distinction from the Retail Pharmacy Assistant Course at BFEI. From the word go, I found all staff members and teachers to be pleasant, professional and approachable at all times. The modules covered were all relevant, informative and interesting to study. This was coupled with teachers whose passion for what they teach was a most engaging experience. In particular, I found the Over the Counter Medicine Module to be invaluable in opening up my career opportunities. Having a Pharmacist delivering the course was very appropriate and professional and I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience. Other modules of particular relevance and interest to me were Nutrition and Anatomy & Physiology, again very engaging and informative. The course was challenging and, the work load was heavy at times but manageable and it helped to have continual assessment throughout the year in the majority of modules. Doing the RPA course and graduating with Distinction has been a major stepping stone towards further study as a Pharmacy Technician. I would highly recommend not only the RPA course but also BFEI as a centre of excellence for learning.

- Elizabeth Kelly, Retail Pharmacy Assistant Graduate, 2018  -

Support Elements
  • You will be given the opportunity to complete Manual Handling Training which is an essential qualification to work in a Pharmacy
  • Career advice and help with CV preparation is provided by the Guidance and Career Service
Assessment and certification
  • IPU Medicines Counter Assistant Course 2018 is certified by the IPU. The IPU exam takes place in April/May.

  • 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


Education/ Training

Graduates who complete this course may apply to the following course in BFEI:


Once you gain employment in a pharmacy, you can apply to study for the: Diploma in Pharmacy Services Skills Irish Pharmacy Union –

If you want to get a degree, then you can apply through the CAO system for entry into courses in the QQI Higher Education Links Scheme such as:

BSc Social Sciences University College Dublin -

Higher Certificate Pharmacy Technician Studies Technological University Dublin [City] -

Higher Certificate in Science - Pharmacy Technician Studies, Carlow Institute of Technology –

Check out the updated BFEI CAO Progression Pathways Chart with new progression options included for TCD, NUI Maynooth and University of Limerick.  CAO data shows that many BFEI graduates from 2018/2019 secured excellent CAO offers.

Entry Requirements

  • Leaving Certificate

​You must have achieved 5 passes or 5 O6/ H7s or a combination of 5 O6/H7s or have achieved the LCA with a Merit profile, or have achieved a full relevant QQI Level 4 Award.

  • Mature Applicants

Mature applicants (aged 21 and over) and other applicants without the formal entry requirements will be assessed individually for suitability.

Advisory Meeting

Applicants will be invited to attend an advisory meeting to offer guidance and to ensure course suitability. Information on course costs and the registration/induction process will also be provided at this meeting. 

Places will be offered, on a first come basis, subject to the applicant meeting the entry requirements and subject to a place being available. 


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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