How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

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Pharmacists around the country have a vast amount of tasks to complete to provide effective and satisfying service to patients. To alleviate some of the workload, pharmacy technicians are pharmacy staff members that help pharmacists with many pharmacy duties to help the facility run effectively and efficiently.

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What does a pharmacy technician do?

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists with providing prescription medications and other health care products to patients. They typically perform routine tasks such as preparing medications by counting pills, pouring liquids, measuring ingredients, and labeling containers. They also maintain the records and billing information of patients and clean the equipment of the pharmacy. Sometimes pharmacy technicians mix pharmaceutical ingredients while being directed and supervised by the pharmacist.

Pharmacy technicians also carry out administrative tasks including preparing insurance claim forms, ordering supplies, stocking shelves, answering phones, and operating cash registers. They receive the prescription orders and examine them to make sure they are accurate and complete. They also receive the prescription refill requests from patients. They are responsible for referring any prescription questions or health concerns to the pharmacist.

What kind of training does a pharmacy technician need?

Most pharmacy technicians receive informal training on the job, but many employers prefer candidates who have formal training and certification. Many vocational or technical colleges, community colleges, proprietary schools, hospitals, and the armed forces offer certificate, diploma, or associate degree programs for pharmacy technicians. These programs include classroom and laboratory coursework on various pharmacy subjects. Many programs also offer students hands-on experience through internships at pharmacies.

In most states, certification for pharmacy technicians is voluntary. Pharmacy technicians can become nationally certified through the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Certified pharmacy technicians must complete 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years to renew their certification.

What are the prospects for a career as a pharmacy technician?

Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 32% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increasing number of people needing prescription medications will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for pharmacy technicians with formal training and sufficient work experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace pharmacy technicians who transfer to other professions or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do pharmacy technicians make?

As of September 2009, the middle 50% of pharmacy technicians earned annual salaries between $27,384 and $33993. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $37,097 (2).

A career as a pharmacy technician is an excellent choice for people interested in assisting pharmacists and patients with prescription medications. Strong customer service skills and ability to work as part of a team are essential. Pharmacy technicians must be responsible, organized, dedicated, and observant. They must pay very close attention to details and be precise because they are dealing with people’s health and lives.

Joshua T Osborne

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