Anyone acquiring a pharmacy technician job can make a decent income with minimal education required.
Most of the training can be gained on the job.
Also, the work environment is flexible, so you can combine work and school or if you’re planning to start a family.
Article Table of Contents
Job Description and Responsibilities
The primary responsibilities of a pharmacy technician include communication with patients and filling prescriptions for them.
Though it sounds quite simple, there’s more to those two jobs.
Your working setting will determine the way you carry out those tasks, whether it’s a hospital or a retail setting.
In a retail store, your responsibilities can be as follows:
- Taking prescriptions from doctors’ offices by phone.
- Communicating with patients as they drop off prescriptions.
- Verification and invoicing of patients’ insurance.
- Preparing liquid prescriptions and ointments.
- Counting and distributing pills.
- Consulting patients on medications.
Responsibilities at a hospital can be different:
- Compound and manage IV fluids.
- Make doses of medications prescribed to patients accordingly.
- Control the medicine between the satellite pharmacy and hospital.
- Manage and resupply automated dispensing systems for medications.
- Understand charts and deal with paperwork.
As the baby boomer generation is aging, you can also work as a home health pharmacy technician or assisted living technician.
At these facilities, your responsibilities can be similar to duties at a hospital.
There are certain things that a pharmacy technician can, should, and can’t do.
Pharmacy technicians are forbidden to perform certain tasks by federal and state laws.
Pharmacy techs can’t:
- Give patients medical advice, including pharmaceuticals.
- Provide patients with medication without a final pharmacist check.
Before handing a prescription to a patient, it must always be signed by the pharmacist.
You don’t have to worry about all the restrictions because you will receive on-the-job training and will know all the dos and don’ts.
It will also help obtain certification because with on-the-job training you will learn the industry standards and local regulations.
Besides, there are a lot of unwritten rules is the medical industry.
Pharmacy technicians can make a pretty decent living.
Based on the data of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of a pharmacy technician in 2017 was $31,750.
The lowest salary can amount to $22,000 annually.
As you gain experience, you can expect your salary to be $46,000.
The work environment will also have a great impact on your salary.
The work in a hospital is significantly higher paying than in a drug store.
Pharmacists who work at hospitals can earn $36,710 annually while those working in drug stores can make less than $30,000.
Pharmacy Technician Responsibilities and Personal Qualities
The pharmacy technician’s work is quite clear and most of the time you know what to expect.
However, it can be challenging and high-pressure.
The job of a pharmacy technician isn’t for everyone, and it implies having a set of specific skills.
If you possess the following personal qualities, the job of a pharmacy technician is for you.
Even though a lot of work of a pharmacy technician happens behind the scenes, communication with patients and medical personnel are still involved.
Attention to details:
The duties of a pharmacy tech include counting pills and mixing the IV liquids, and there’s no room for mistakes.
If you got upset in high school getting anything lower than A, then the profession of a pharmacy tech is for you.
Prescriptions should be delivered to patients on time.
You won’t be able to take breaks as frequently as every ten minutes, urgency is always a good thing in this work.
The pharmacist needs a motivated person who can accomplish tasks with minimal supervision and direction.
They are busy, and they need your assistance.
A pharmacy is a place that needs to be kept sterile, even the front of the store.
Essential Skills and Education
If you live in a region with a high demand for pharmacy technicians, you may need only a high-school diploma to start a career.
However, in many states, you will be required to obtain special education and certifications if you want to start a pharmacy technician career.
Even if a certification isn’t required in your state, it’s still a good idea to consider getting one since it can set you apart and broaden job opportunities for you compared to the other applicants.
Besides, pharmacy technician education programs aren’t long, so you won’t have to invest much time in it.
You can get your training in many vocational schools and obtain certification within a year or less.
In other schools, certifications are available as a part of an Associate’s degree taking two years.
The official pharmacy technician certification can be acquired from two organizations in the US: the National Healthcareer Association and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.
On their websites, you can find a list of accredited schools in which you can enroll.
Most of the training you will receive on the job.
The types of medications, protocols, procedures, and even patients are different in every pharmacy.
Except for formal training or certification, your criminal record should be clean.
With drug-related charges or substance abuse, you won’t be able to get any pharmacy job.
A typical workweek of a pharmacy tech is 40 hours, but there’s a high possibility to have overtime work as well.
Your schedule depends on the hours of the pharmacy.
At a hospital or a 24/7 pharmacy, you can have the shifts in early mornings, late nights, weekends, or holidays.
If the pharmacy you work at only deals with patients during business hours, like 9 to 5 or 6, you won’t have many midnight shifts, but you still can work on the weekends.
Usually, pharmacy technicians have full-time work, but working part-time is also possible.
Even working part-time, you can still make a decent living with a median wage of $15.00 (data from 2017).
Pharmacy techs typically work either in a retail store or at a hospital.
Depending on the setting, your work environment will be different.
Working at a hospital, you will deal with patients directly, so you need to have good interaction skills.
Applying IV fluids, managing medications, and reading patient charts comprise the largest part or responsibilities of a pharmacy tech at a hospital.
Your responsibilities will also include restocking the pharmacy and dosing the medications.
You’ll also have to complete a great deal of paperwork at times free of communication with patients and medical personnel.
While you can make more working at a hospital, the work also involves more high-risk situations and a high-pressure environment.
Retail Store Setting
Work at a retail store pharmacy is more robotic than at a hospital.
You receive prescriptions from patients and fill them.
Since you communicate directly with patients and are basically the face of the pharmacy, your customer service skills should be excellent.
There are a lot of duties you can deal with, and they have to be accomplished only by a pharmacist.
So you will spend a lot of time assisting them with paperwork or prescriptions filling.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate of pharmacy technicians should grow more than other occupations, with 12% by the year 2026.
The aging baby boomer generation requires more medical attention, and that includes prescriptions.
With that, all the jobs related to the healthcare area are expected to grow greatly.
At the moment, the income potential and job security are great, so it’s a perfect time to look into the medical field.
On the downside, the job of a pharmacy technician doesn’t have many opportunities for promotions.
The best way to move up your career ladder is to gain experience and obtain higher-paid jobs at prestigious hospitals.
On the other hand, if you wish to become a pharmacist, you will need to get additional education and earn a Doctorate degree.
The pharmacy technician job can be a great opportunity for those who look for work with decent payment and minimum education requirements.
The working hours are consistent and job security is great.
Various states, though, can have different certification regulations and requirements.
Remember, that you have to be extremely detail-oriented and highly attentive at this job as you deal with people’s lives.