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A pharmacy technician is a professional who helps licensed pharmacists by making and dispensing preparations and medications to healthcare providers and patients. Pharmacy technician jobs also involve verifying that prescriptions are filed properly and on time.
Furthermore, they interact with patients and complete sales transactions, such as delivering drugs. On top of that, they receive, record, and store drugs that enter the pharmacy, maintain the stock of prescription drugs, and inform licensed pharmacists of the state of the inventory.
This profession requires good communication and customer service skills. Above all, pharmacy technician jobs are for those who are highly detail-oriented and work well in a team.
About Pharmacy Technician Jobs
What Do Pharmacy Technicians Do?
Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists assist customers and process prescriptions. What follows are their duties and the different types of jobs you can apply for.
Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
There are several highly important duties that pharmacy technicians must attend to, including the following:
- Provide customer service
- Run cash registers
- Answer questions of customers
- Answer phone calls
- Order items for the pharmacy
- Dispense prescription drugs
- Prepare labels of prescriptions
- Deliver prescriptions in a medical facility
- Refer patients to a pharmacist for professional advice
- Keep stock lists in check
- Make sure prescriptions get to a licensed pharmacist
- Sell over-the-counter medication
- Stock shelves
- Fill out paperwork
Individuals in pharm tech positions may also have additional duties if they are employed as a part of a team in hospitals or community pharmacies. In such cases, a pharmacy technician might also have to make deliveries to various parts of the medical facility.
Typically, pharmacy technicians work as vital parts of community pharmacies or healthcare teams in medical facilities (such as hospitals). Pharmacy technicians may also work in retail pharmacies, supermarkets, or for an NHS service provider.
The pharmacy technicians who work in community pharmacies are referred to as dispensing technicians. However, remote pharmacy technician jobs are becoming increasingly popular as well.
Here are some facts about the working conditions of pharmacy tech jobs:
- They work in organized, clean, and well-ventilated/well-lighted areas.
- They spend most of the workday on their feet.
- Pharmacy technicians may need to utilize stepladders or lift heavy boxes.
- They may work throughout evenings, late nights, weekends, and the holidays.
- They may work in different shifts.
Injuries and Illnesses
Pharm tech careers are very stressful and physically demanding. Pharmacy technicians spend most of their days on their feet and are occasionally required to lift heavy boxes.
Since they are in constant contact with different medications and drugs, pharmacy technicians are exposed to health risks such as allergic reactions. To stay safe, they wear protective gloves and masks.
Work Schedules of Pharmacy Technicians
The pharmacy tech job schedules depend on the place of work. There were around 420,400 employed pharmacy technicians in 2018. Around 52% of these professionals were employed in drug stores and pharmacies, 17% in hospitals, and only 8% in food and beverage stores.
The working hours of pharmacy technicians may vary, with many employees in this field working evening and weekend shifts.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
To apply for certified pharmacy technician jobs, you need to complete a postsecondary education program. The accrediting body for pharmacy technician programs is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. The accredited programs are available in many vocational schools and community colleges.
The coursework also covers practical and technical training in pharmacy ethics, pharmacy law, medical terminology, pharmacology, physiology, anatomy, pharmaceutical calculations, and healthcare systems.
To apply for pharmacy technicians’ jobs, candidates also must complete on-the-job training and become certified. After this, pharmacy technicians may choose to become specialized. In order to maintain certification, pharmacy techs must pass a recertification exam every two years.
Essential Qualities of Pharmacy Technicians
There are a couple of qualities a potential candidate must have before even considering going down the path of becoming a successful pharmacy technician. They must have more than just excellent stamina and patience.
Before even considering applying for pharmacy tech job openings, you must possess the following qualities:
- Impeccable Communication Skills—One of the most important skills a pharmacy technician must possess is communication transparency. He or she must be a compassionate, empathetic, and an active listener.
- Computer Literacy—Candidates interested in pharmacy tech jobs must possess good computer technology skills. This is because these professionals frequently use different computer programs.
- Detail-Orientation—Since pharmacy technicians handle different medications, they must pay close attention to detail.
- Team player—Candidates wanting to succeed in pharmacy technician jobs have to know how to cooperate.
- Excellent Organisational Skills—Pharmacy technicians make sure that the pharmacy is neatly-organized. They stock shelves with supplies and affix printed labels onto bottles.
- Problem-Solving Skills—Every job requires this skill, and it is especially true for pharmacy technician trainee jobs.
A pharmacy technician must be creative and emotionally mature. Furthermore, pharmacy technicians need to be interested in other people’s wellbeing, follow legal guidelines, and be responsible.
Pharmacy Technician Education Requirements
Usually, pharmacy technicians receive training on the job. When it comes to education, future employees require a high school diploma, whereas postsecondary education is optional.
Furthermore, individuals interested in pursuing this career are recommended to study physiology, anatomy, math, as well as complete an internship to receive practical experience.
The ASHP/ACPE accredits more than 250 formal pharmacy technician training programs. These programs follow nationally recognized regulations and standards. ASHP/ACPE accredited programs last a minimum of 400 hours, and they incorporate laboratory and didactic components, as well as practical experiences in a real pharmacy.
There are online training courses that may be helpful for future pharmacy technicians. To become successful, one requires both knowledge (which students may obtain online) and practical skills (developed via experience).
When it comes to getting pharmacy technician certification online, ASHP/ACPE-accredited programs feature a blend of working experiences in pharmacies and classrooms.
Here is what is required from a potential pharmacy technician in terms of training and qualifications:
- On-the-job training
- High school diploma
- Experience working as a cashier is an advantage
- Excellent communication skills and experience in customer service
- Excellent IT skills and numeracy
- GCSEs or similar qualifications
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
In this section, we will briefly discuss everything you need to know about pharmacy technician certification and licenses.
Pharmacy technicians require a high school diploma and on-the-job training to be employed (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). As for on-the-job training (generally lasting three to 12 months), the majority of programs let students gain clinical experience during this time.
Some states let students gain on-the-job training without being enrolled in a postsecondary education program. One option is to gain clinical experience at a medical center or an approved pharmacy, while another is to complete training at a retail drugstore the school has partnered up with.
Before being able to work, national pharmacy technician certification is required by several states. Keep in mind that even in the states where it is not required to be certified, the majority of employers will exclusively hire technicians who are certified by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
While the NHA requires potential candidates to have a minimum of one year of experience working as a pharmacy technician or to complete a training program, the PTCB requires students to pass a pharmacy technician certification exam. Overall, both of these organizations require students to possess a high school diploma.
Pharmacy technicians can become specialized by choosing to work only for a retail drugstore chain. These professionals need to finish specialized training to work as general pharmacy technicians, central pharmacy operations technicians, or as community pharmacy technicians.
Lastly, pharmacy technicians are required to pass a recertification exam every two years in order to maintain certification.
Advancement in Pharm Tech Careers
There are plenty of opportunities for advancement in this healthcare field. In fact, ambitious and hard-working pharmacy technicians may be promoted to different supervisory positions.
Some of these professionals may also advance into specialty positions such as nuclear pharmacy technician or chemotherapy technicians. Other options are becoming licensed pharmacists or moving into sales.
Expected Pay for Pharmacy Technicians
The average pharmacy technician salary varies by state. For instance, in New York, a pharmacy technician may earn $16.74 per hour or $34,823 annually. The salary is about the same in Massachusetts, Washington, and New Hampshire. As for Virginia, a pharmacy technician earns $14.94 per hour or $31,072 annually.
This profession’s lowest salary rate is observed in Florida and North Carolina, with $12.89 and $12.28 per hour, or $26,821 and $25,539 annually. According to BLS, in May 2019, the median annual wage for a pharmacy technician was $33,950.
Pharmacy Technician Job Outlook
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth from 2018-2028 is 7% for all pharmacy technicians. In other words, employment for these professionals is expected to increase more rapidly than the national average. This attributes to job openings to advance medicine being utilized to combat illnesses.
Furthermore, the advances in medicine leading to brand-new medications are also expected to contribute to the growth of the industry and increase the demand for pharm tech positions.
Job Prospects for Pharmacy Technicians
Like previously mentioned, potential candidates employers are looking for are required to have a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Furthermore, there are specific skills that candidates must possess to excel in this career.
Pharmacy technicians who have excellent customer service skills and are detail-oriented will do a fantastic job in this field.
The good news is that for those individuals currently considering working as pharmacy technicians, the prospects are great. There are plenty of job and growth opportunities readily available and will continue to exist in the future.
Pharmacy Technician Career Pros and Cons
Here is what you need to know about the benefits and the drawbacks of full- and part-time pharmacy technician jobs:
- Training doesn’t last long (10 months)
- You will make a positive impact on patient’s lives
- There is always a variety in this field (this job is not boring)
- You will spend a lot of time on your feet (it is a physically demanding job)
- You will need to keep up, as pharmacies tend to get very busy (it gets intense during peak hours)
What is the National Pharmacy Technician certification?
It is an accredited certification exam (on a national level) for future pharmacy technicians offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.
What is the salary of a pharmacy technician?
The average salary of a pharmacy technician varies by state. In New York, a pharmacy technician’s salary is $16.74 per hour or $34,823 annually, whereas, in Texas, these professionals earn $13.52 per hour or $28,130 annually.
The lowest salary for this profession is in North Carolina, with $12.28 per hour or $25,539 annually.
What kind of education is required to be a pharmacy technician?
Individuals considering a career as pharmacy technicians must have at least a high school diploma (or an equivalent, like a GED). Furthermore, professionals who do not want to pursue postsecondary education typically require on-the-job training and a high school diploma.
What other jobs can a pharmacy technician do?
Pharmacy technicians can work as:
- Customer Service Representatives
- Certified Pharmacist Technicians
- Registered Nurses
- Sales Associates
- Administrative Assistants
- Staff Pharmacists
- Medical Assistants
- Medical Technologists
- Front Desk Receptionists
- Data Entry Associates
- Shift Supervisors
- Service Representatives
- Medical Receptionists
- Physician Assistants
Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs for former pharmacist technicians that require many of the same skills.
How to take the pharmacy technician certification exam?
First and foremost, one must register online to create a new PTCB Account. Next, the individual must apply for certification via logging in the PTCB Account. Keep in mind that the full price of applying and taking the exam is a total of $129. After being approved, the individual will get an email from PTCB.
What is a pharmacy technician starting salary?
On average, a pharmacy technician will earn $13.93 hourly. Pharmacy technicians working in CVS, Walgreens Pharmacy, or The Kroger Company may earn $12 per hour, while those in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc earn up to $14 per hour.
We believe that the pharmacy technician profession is a fantastic choice if you possess all of the needed qualities. Even though it is physically demanding and frequently stressful, it is a gratifying career choice that will make you feel satisfied and productive.
Thankfully, there are plenty of pharmacy technician jobs available, as this career option is in high demand and projected to grow in the future. Also, the rising demand for prescription medication will result in more demand for different pharmaceutical services.