Pharmacy technicians are healthcare heroes. Working with a licensed pharmacist, they often serve as the primary point of contact for customers, many of whom rely on the technician’s knowledge and compassion during a very difficult time in their lives.
If you enjoy helping people keep and regain their health, you could be on the way to a great career as a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, from community pharmacies and hospitals to more specialized operations like the military, long term care facilities, managed health care organizations and many others.
What does a pharmacy technician do?
Pharmacy technicians work with pharmacists to prepare and distribute medications. They may also assist with pharmacy operations like managing medicine inventories, placing orders and maintaining patient records.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) lists the following among a pharmacy technician’s specific duties:
- Ensuring that prescription orders are accurate and complete
- Retrieving, counting, pouring and measuring prescriptions
- Preparing specialty medicines, such as those used in the treatment of cancer
- Reconciling medication inventories against shipments and distributions
- Helping to manage the pharmacy’s participation in drug studies
- Preparing and packaging medications
- Ordering medications and pharmacy supplies
Each state develops its own regulations about activities pharmacy technicians may perform. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) maintains a current list of state requirements on its website.
Do pharmacy technicians need a degree?
Although each employer has its own requirements, in general you will not need a degree to serve as a pharmacy technician. However, many states now require certification such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), offered by the PTCB.
Experts also advise new pharmacy technicians to gain experience working in pharmacies whenever possible. Structured externship programs help new technicians gain meaningful experience in pharmacy operations and customer service.
How much do pharmacy technicians make?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists pharmacy technician among its most promising career opportunities. According to the BLS, pharmacy technicians average around $16.00 per hour, or $32,700 per year.
The BLS expects increases in prescription medications to drive demand for new pharmacy technicians at a rate of 7% per year over the coming decade. This rate of growth is faster than average for all employment categories.
How do you become a pharmacy technician?
The best way to get started in a pharmacy technician career is to combine study with hands-on experience. In fact, a great program will prepare you with knowledge about dispensing medicine and with experience working in a pharmacy.
The best pharmacy technician training programs include classroom and laboratory work that covers:
- Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
- Pharmaceutical calculations
- Pharmacy record keeping
- Pharmaceutical techniques
- Pharmacy law and ethics
- Medication-specific information such as names, actions, uses, and doses
Pharmacy externship programs provide direct experience working in the pharmaceutical setting. In many cases they also help meet state certification or licensing requirements. However, you can check the PTCB website to learn more about your state’s laws and regulations.
Start pharmacy technician training online!
So, if you enjoy helping people, serving in a busy and challenging environment and staying at the front of medical technology, a pharmacy technician career may be a great choice for you.
Since most strong programs take about a year to complete, you could be ready to launch your pharmacy technician career in just 12 months.
This fully online, self-paced course was designed to be completed in a year. It includes thorough training in medical knowledge, pharmacy operations and regulations. Additionally, it includes online laboratory exercises and the opportunity to participate in a 100-hour externship program!