Considering a career as a pharmacy technician? It is essential to understand the details of a pharmacy technician job description before deciding whether this career is the best fit for you.
What does a pharmacy technician do?
A pharmacy technician fulfills essential roles and duties as an “assistant” within the pharmacy. Pharmacy techs interact with both the pharmacist and patient, ensuring effective communication between the two, both in person and on the telephone. Pharmacy technicians will also receive and process prescription requests submitted by doctors and healthcare organizations.
Techs will help the pharmacist in preparation of prescriptions for patients. Tasks include: counting, pouring, weighing, measuring and/or mixing medications whenever required. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for keeping medications (both prescription and over the counter) in stock, and for maintaining inventory.
Depending on the specific location of employment, pharmacy techs can also be responsible for stocking shelves, filing and processing forms and other customer service duties.
What kind of salary does a pharmacy technician earn?
According to the most current statistics from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy technicians were $13.32. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.95 and $15.88. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.27, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.98. Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy aides were $9.66. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.47 and $11.62. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.69, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26. Certified technicians may earn more than non-certified technicians. Some technicians and aides belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers.
Depending on the specific employer and area, there is significant opportunity for an increase in salary. Pharmacy techs working in a retail environment are often paid higher salaries than those who work for healthcare organizations. Because the pharmacy technician is an essential part of a successful and profitable pharmacy, the right tech can become invaluable to a pharmacist – and can demand higher wages.
How can I become a pharmacy technician?
Formal training, certification or experience can put a pharmacy tech candidate in high demand. While there is no national standard for the position, employers often favor candidates with these qualifications.
Many organizations and schools offer training and certifications to become a pharmacy technician, including community colleges, hospitals, vocational schools and the military. Programs will include coursework in medical and pharmaceutical technology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping, pharmaceutical techniques and pharmacy law and ethics. Formal certification can also be acquired through private organizations, including the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).
Pharmacy tech programs often require memorization of names, uses and doses of the medications they use on a daily, or sometimes infrequent, basis. Students who engage in internships gain useful, hands-on experience in a pharmacy setting, and may have an edge when applying for positions.
In many states, pharmacy techs are required to be registered with the state board of pharmacy. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but in some states, candidates must hold a high school diploma (or equivalent), and pay an application fee.
Careers as a pharmacy technician are expected to rise significantly over the next decade. A rewarding career as a pharmacy technician could be the right path for you.
Looking to start a career as a pharmacy technician?
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