Pharmaceutical-technical assistant ( PTA ) is an in Germany recognized training occupation . In order to obtain state permission to practice this profession , a two-year training course at the vocational school and a six-month internship are required in addition to at least secondary school leaving certificate.
Around 90% of all PTAs work in a public pharmacy , where they are part of the pharmaceutical staff and support the pharmacists in their work.
The profession of PTA was newly created in 1968, as the previous position as a pharmacist disappeared with the reorganization of pharmacist training . Since the requirements in the health care system are constantly changing (e.g. due to the expansion of medical knowledge and increasing competition among pharmacies), the demands on PTA have increased since then. Furthermore, the professional areas of application outside of the pharmacy have expanded over time (see areas of activity). With effect from January 1, 2023, the training was newly regulated by the PTA Act of January 13, 2020 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 66 ).
Training at the vocational school
In theoretical lessons at the vocational school, the prospective PTA receive subject-specific lessons in various scientific subjects, such as B. general and pharmaceutical chemistry , galenics , botany , drug science and drug science and poison science.
In addition to the purely theoretical lessons, practical exercises for examining body fluids , recognizing medicinal plants , producing certain medicinal forms and handling IT are carried out. This includes determining the identity and content of pharmaceuticals , auxiliary substances and drugs (dried animal and plant parts) using physical and chemical analysis methods. During the school-based training phase, the PTA students have to do a four-week internship in a pharmacy during the holidays in order to gain an insight into operational processes and pharmaceutical activities. In addition, eight double hours of comprehensive first aid training must be completed.
The school education ends with the first section of the exam. This consists of a written, oral and practical part.
The following are checked in writing:
- General and pharmaceutical chemistry
- Botany and drug science
Oral tests are:
- Hazardous substances, crop protection and environmental science
- Pharmaceutical law, occupation
- Medical device customer
In practice, the following are checked:
- Chemical-pharmaceutical exercises including examination of body fluids
- Drug science exercises
- Galenic exercises
The training at the vocational school is followed by practical training in the pharmacy. On site, the trainees put their acquired knowledge and skills into practice. Processing medical prescriptions, obtaining information and advising patients on the proper use and storage of drugs and pharmacy goods are among the most important tasks of the future PTA.
Furthermore, they are made familiar with the testing of drugs, drugs and auxiliary materials as well as the manufacture of drugs and their price calculation. In addition to the practical activities, however, knowledge of the legal regulations that are important for pharmacy operations as well as the trade in pharmaceuticals, narcotics and hazardous substances are conveyed, insofar as they affect the activities of the PTA.
During the practical training in the pharmacy, a diary is to be kept in which selected topics are to be described in more detail.
The practical training ends with the second section of the state examination for PTA. It consists of an oral examination on pharmacy practice .
The profession of PTA may only be practiced with a corresponding professional license. After successfully completing the training, this can be applied for from the responsible government agency.
Duration of training
The training takes about two and a half years. First, a two-year course is completed at a state-recognized training institute for pharmaceutical-technical assistants, followed by practical training of six months in a public pharmacy. It is also possible to complete three months of the 6-month internship in a hospital pharmacy and the other half in a public pharmacy. This enables a broader insight into the possible work areas of a PTA.
The requirement for attending a PTA training institute is a secondary school qualification or a comparable other educational qualification. As a PTA you should be reliable, orderly and conscientious. You should like dealing with people and working in a team. The following skills are also important:
- Average general intellectual performance
- Average abstract-logical thinking (e.g. consistent construction of test arrangements)
- Average computational thinking (for examples, see Knowledge and Skills)
- Average linguistic thinking (for examples, see Knowledge and Skills)
- Observation accuracy (e.g. recognition of changes in chemical or microbiological test series)
- Sustained attention (e.g. observing pharmaceutical test procedures)
- Retention (e.g. retrieving specialist knowledge from pharmacopoeias, substance lists and manufacturing instructions)
- Finger dexterity (e.g. crushing substances for drug production) - Manual skills (e.g. mixing substances for drug production)
- Eye-hand coordination (e.g. measuring, filling and transferring chemical substances)
- Technical understanding (e.g. maintenance of test devices and laboratory equipment)
Areas of activity
The majority of those who decide to train as a PTA aspire to the public pharmacy as a future workplace, as this is where their range of activities is most diversified. PTAs belong to the pharmaceutical staff according to the pharmacy operating regulations and are therefore allowed to carry out pharmaceutical activities under the supervision of a pharmacist. It is important to inform customers and patients about the correct use of the products. The PTA also bears increasing responsibility in health advice and prevention.
Hospitals often have their own pharmacy, which is responsible for supplying patients with medicines in the hospital. The range of drugs produced in a hospital pharmacy is much larger. The biggest difference to the public pharmacy is that the PTA has no contact with the patient in the hospital.
Pharmaceutical industry, drug testing agencies, university
Those who like to work in the laboratory will find interesting fields of activity in the research laboratories of the universities or in testing institutes. The cooperation of the PTA is particularly in demand in the areas of the analytical determination of medicinal substances and in the production of various dosage forms. PTAs are also allowed to work as pharmaceutical consultants without further training . Other professional areas of application are: health insurance companies, authorities and PTA schools. In addition, a PTA can also become self-employed as a trainer for pharmacy staff.
Education in state schools does not usually have to be paid for. Private schools charge a tuition for PTA training. The prospective PTA already receive an internship remuneration for the six-month internship, but this does not have to be paid in the state of Saxony due to the lack of collective bargaining regulations. The salary of the PTA in the pharmacy depends on the professional years and the federal state in which the activity is carried out.
The salary tariff, according to which the remuneration between 2,078 euros in the 1st – 2nd Year of employment and 2,691 euros from the 15th year of employment (as of September 1, 2018). The figures apply to all chamber districts except North Rhine and Saxony. Slightly different figures apply in North Rhine-Westphalia (1st to 2nd year of employment: 2,039 euros; from 10th year of employment: 2,620 euros; as of January 1, 2018). There is no collective bargaining agreement in Saxony.
The collective agreements in the pharmacy sector are concluded between ADEXA (Pharmacy Union) and ADA ( Employers' Association of German Pharmacies ) or the collective bargaining association of pharmacy managers (TGL) North Rhine. Outside the pharmacy, there are often better earning and career opportunities.
The career prospects for PTA are closely linked to the situation of pharmacies . At the moment, the long-term effects of the upcoming health reforms, the results of which are expected to result in job cuts in the pharmacy sector, cannot yet be assessed. Nevertheless, due to their qualifications, PTAs are an indispensable part of the pharmacy team. The percentage of women in the PTA occupation is more than 90%. Flexible working hours and part-time work also make the job interesting. In the years 1999 to 2011, the number of PTA employed in Germany rose from 42,745 to 66,867.
The advanced training institute for PTA (WIpta) offers part-time advanced training courses with a nationwide recognized IHK degree. Learning areas are for example:
Prerequisites for participation are proof of the state examination / recognition for PTA or an equivalent degree and two years of professional experience. There is also the possibility of completing a further education course to become a pharmaceutical economist (FH) at the University of Applied Sciences in Schmalkalden in Thuringia. If the entry requirements are met, the PTA is of course also open to study pharmacy at a university. In some federal states there is also the possibility of studying without a high school diploma. It is also possible to undertake further training to become an industrial foreman for pharmacy or chemistry or to become a state-certified biotechnologist .
- Federal Association of PTA (BVpta eV)
- Adexa, the pharmacy union, for salaried PTAs
- Employment figures and job description of the PTA
- Detailed information on PTA training
- The pharmacy professions in detail
- Further education and training for PTA at a glance
- adexa-online.de: Collective agreements of the Employers' Association of German Pharmacists (ABDA) or the collective bargaining association of pharmacy managers (TGL) North Rhine and the ADEXA pharmacy union.
- Employment figures and job description for PTA application portal ulmato.de with reference to the research group on job markets, accessed on February 7, 2013.
- Berufenet.de: Pharmaceutical-technical assistant