A pharmacy technician is responsible for assisting licensed pharmacists with the clerical duties associated with managing a pharmacy. Many act as cashiers or clerks who manage money, answer the telephone, supply and stock shelves and perform other administrative duties.
Most pharmacy technicians benefit greatly from complete a certificate or degree program. This credential helps them gain increased pay and find jobs more easily. Check out the programs below which offer free information:
It is the job of the pharmacy technician to ensure the pharmacy operates efficiently. Job duties may include setting up and maintaining patient records, handling insurance claims and handling supplies. Pharmacy technicians must be meticulous to avoid possible dangers and ensure safety. They must also be able to communicate accurately with third-parties while handling insurance matters. Pharmacy technicians may also handle inventory to ensure that the pharmacy is stocked with the appropriate amount of medications.
Job Responsibilities & Duties
The job duties of a pharmacy technician can vary based on the size of the pharmacy. Those pharmacy technicians that work in clinics or larger pharmacies typically focus on measuring medication and working directly with patients. At smaller locations, pharmacy technicians may be in charge of operating the cash register, answering the telephone or other administrative duties. Most work directly with customers and pharmacists. They may fill prescriptions, which involves weighing, counting, measuring and mixing medication. Accuracy is essential for this career field. A pharmacy technician may work with other technicians in the same environment as well as with multiple pharmacists.
Pharmacy technicians tend to spend quite a bit of time on their feet, working behind pharmacy counters. They may also need to use ladders and move heavy boxes. Some pharmacy technicians may work on the weekends or in the evenings in 24-hour pharmacies. Many work part-time, which gives them the change to establish their schedule around other needs.
Most pharmacy technicians are employed by retail pharmacies or drugstore chains, while others work in markets, department stores or mass retailers. A small number are employed in hospitals.
The employment outlook for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow at a rate that is faster than average. By 2018, the employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 25%. This is due to an increase in the number of consumers who use prescriptions drugs, including an increasing in the population of the elderly, who often rely on prescription drugs more than younger persons.
Pharmacy Technician Training and Education Requirements
In order to enter this field, it can be helpful to have a high school diploma. Most pharmacy technicians obtain on-the-job training. Individuals who are interested in this career field would do well to have prior experience as a cashier. Employers tend to favor candidates with good communication and customer service skills. Those who are familiar with handling inventories and who have computer skills will also have an advantage. In order to succeed in this field, pharmacy technicians should be sociable, reliable and structured. They must be able to efficiently and accurately handle instructions.
Most pharmacy technicians receive on-the-job training. In the beginning, training might involve observing a pharmacy technician who is already knowledgeable and experienced. Once they understand the procedures, rules and materials of that pharmacy they may then begin to work independently.
Although most pharmacy technicians do receive on-the-job training, those with experience and/or certification are preferred by employers. Formal training programs can often lead to a diploma or certificate. These training programs combine lab and classroom work. A pharmacy technician training program may include such typical coursework as dosage calculations, pharmacy math, interpretation of medication orders, inventory management, pharmacy law and pharmacy keyboarding. A clinical internship may also be included. Volunteering in a hospital can help to increase one’s employment opportunities.
There is usually not much room for advancement within this field, although some pharmacy technicians may eventually go to pharmacology school to become pharmacists.
Pharmacy Technician Salary and Wages
The employment outlook for this career field is expected to be excellent, especially for pharmacy technicians with experience related to clerking or pharmacology. The mean annual earnings for pharmacy technicians in 2007 was $27,560.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
Pharmacy technicians are required by most states to be registered with that state’s board of pharmacy. Some states require applicants to have a high school diploma or an equivalent. An application fee may be required.
Certification is usually not required by most states, although pharmacy technicians can choose voluntary certification through different private organizations, including the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT); both of which administer national certifications exams. Certification can help to enhance a candidate’s employment prospects. Re-certification is required every two years. Applicants must obtain 20 hours of continuing education within that two year period.
Formal pharmacy technician programs are offered through many different organizations, including vocational schools, community colleges, hospitals and event the military. Programs may last from six months to two years. Sources for continuing education include pharmacy associations, colleges and pharmacy technician training programs. As many as ten hours of continuing education can also be earned while on the job under the supervision of a pharmacist.
Pharmacy Technician Professional Associations
Professional associations for pharmacy technicians include the following:
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
- Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT)
- National Pharmacy Technician Association