What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

Pharmacy techs assist pharmacists to prepare the prescription medication for customers.

They may get a written prescription or process the request of a doctor’s office that was sent electronically or requested by phone.

Depending on the laws in a state, pharmacy techs may combine or mix medications and be authorized for refill by doctors.

Technicians keep the drug inventory in order and inform pharmacists if there are any shortages.

Pharmacy tech is different from pharmacy aide, however, both assist and are supervised by a pharmacist.

Even though the two share some duties, an aide is tasked with more clerical tasks but the tech assists a pharmacist with prescriptions.

Pharmacy Technician Duties & Responsibilities

The duties of a pharmacy technician can be different depending on the laws of a state, but generally, they are responsible for:

  • Handle any required cash register operations.
  • Call doctors for prescription refill authorizations.
  • Fill bottles with doctor-prescribed medications, type and apply labels with directions and other information for patients, and pre-pack bulk medications.
  • Keep detailed records of on-hand medications and other stock.
  • Resolve issues, concerns, or complaints made by customers.
  • Resolve any issues with patients’ insurance coverage.
  • Type up prescription information details to produce labels for packages.

Pharmacy Technician Salary

The salary of a pharmacy tech can vary depending on the level of education and experience, area of expertise, certification, geographic location, etc.

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,750 ($15.26/hour).
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $22,000 ($10.58/hour).
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $46,980 ($22.59/hour).

Education, Training, & Certification

Pharmacy techs don’t need formal training, but if they get one, they can become more appealing to potential employers.

Education:

Commonly, pharmacy techs need a high school diploma or GED.

Often, pharmacy techs receive only on-the-job training, but many employers prefer candidates who received some formal education.

Training:

Most of the training pharmacy techs receive on the job.

Every employer may have different training procedures and subject matter.

Training may last from three months to one year.

Vocational school:

It’s not a requirement, but candidates can complete an associate degree or certificate program.

These programs cover such topics as math used in pharmacies, pharmacy law, dispensing medication, record keeping, and more.

Formal programs for pharmacy techs are available in vocational schools, community colleges, hospitals, military.

The programs last from six months to two years.

Clinical experience:

Pharmacy techs can gain clinical experience during the vocational program, where they receive hands-on training.

Regulation:

Some states have regulations for pharmacy techs, which can include formal training, exam, continuing education, or criminal background check.

Most states require pharmacy techs to be registered with the board of pharmacy.

In some states, certification is mandatory, which is offered by several professional organizations.

Similar to formal training, it can make the candidate more appealing to employers.

Pharmacy Technician Skills & Competencies

Besides education and training, whether it’s optional or required, certification and registration, pharmacy techs should have particular skills.

They need the following personal traits to succeed on the job:

Active listening:

Pharmacy techs should understand the instructions of the doctors and the requests of the customers.

Speaking:

They need to convey information to pharmacists and communicate with doctors and customers effectively.

Attention to detail:

Filling prescriptions and preparing labels should be done precisely as mistakes can be deadly.

Organizational skills:

Well-organized techs can do their job properly and avoid errors.

Reading comprehension:

It is critical for them to understand written documentation.

Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the job outlook for pharmacy techs for the next decade is faster than the national average for other occupations.

It is driven by the increased demand for prescribed medication, the aging population as well as increased cases of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

With advances in medical research, new prescription medications are being developed that are used in treatment programs.

The employment rates are supposed to grow by 12% through 2026.

The employment growth for other healthcare technicians and technologists is even faster, with 14%.

The national average for all occupations is 7%.

Work Environment

Over half of all pharmacy technician jobs are in drug stores and pharmacies.

The rest are available in general merchandise stores and hospitals.

Work Schedule

Pharmacy techs usually work full-time and since many pharmacies work 24/7, the schedule can include evenings and weekends.

How to Get the Job

Apply

Refine your resume by pointing out the skills from your previous experience applicable to a pharmacy tech job.

Search for jobs in such resources as Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s (PTCB) online career center, pharmacy, and drug store company websites, job search sites like Indeed or Glassdoor.

Find a Pharmacy Tech Volunteer Opportunity

Search for volunteer opportunities at local pharmacies or schools you’re attending.

You can find opportunities and build the resume through such sites as Pharmacist com, for short-term volunteer projects or longer-term commitments.

Find an Internship

Build your skills by shadowing an experienced pharmacy tech or pharmacist.

You can find internships through an online job search or school career centers.

Comparing Similar Jobs

Those interested in a pharmacy tech job can also consider other professions, including:

  • Medical assistant: median salary – $32,480.
  • Dental assistant: median salary -$37,630.
  • Pharmacist: median salary – $124,170.

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