Become a Pharmacy Technician

With the increasing numbers of elderly people looking for prescription medication, there is a higher job outlook for pharmacy technicians with employment set to increase by 25 % over the next 8 years.

A pharmacy technician is trained to assist a licensed pharmacist in providing customer care, processing prescriptions from patients, doctor’s offices, or over the phone, and preparing medication for patients. Work is commonly found in a retail pharmacy setting, but one can also find pharmacy technician jobs at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

To become a pharmacy technician, you need to have a high school diploma with 3 to 12 months of on the job training being provided. However, certified pharmacy technicians will enjoy higher paid jobs and more opportunities than uncertified ones. National certification can be obtained from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) as well as the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT). Pharmacy technicians will require recertification every 2 years with over 20 hours of continued education to qualify.

You can also get formal technician training from various vocational schools and community colleges, as well as the military and hospitals, which can take up to 2 years and covers work in laboratories and practical experience in a pharmacy setting. The courses include pharmaceutical terminology training, pharmaceutical record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, details about medication, their uses, and dosages, as well as how to mix and prepare medication.

With your formal training and license you can get work in retail pharmacies where you will work under a pharmacist who you will need to consult before giving patients prescriptions. Your job also requires some administrative or clerical work with sometimes odd hours being worked. You might need to work in the evenings, on weekends or even holidays.

Employment can also be found at nursing homes, hospitals and assisted-living facilities, where additional duties include delivering medication to nurses and doctors, as well as recording prescribed medication into the patients’ file.

A pharmacy technician will spend most of their workday on their feet and should be able to lift and carry heavy boxes or climb ladders to reach supplies on high shelves. Pharmacy technicians work in well ventilated, clean environments that are well lit and need to be well organized, neat and tidy, with excellent customer service skills.

Looking at job advancements, a pharmacy technician can move into supervisory roles, as well as move into specialized fields such as becoming a nuclear pharmacy technician or a chemotherapy technician. Many technicians also complete their training to become a licensed pharmacist.

Many pharmacy technicians work part time, and earn an hourly wage of $13.32 on average with certified technicians earning more. The yearly salary range for a pharmacy technician is $25,930 to $38,774 including bonuses and benefits. Supervisors can earn up to $60,742.

Pharmacy Technician Quick Facts

Job Title: Pharmacy Technician
Office: Laboratories, pharmacies, hospitals, and other health care centers.
Description: To assist the pharmacist with the processing of prescription medication including mixing and preparing medication, and dealing directly with patients.
Certifications/Education: No formal training is required, but job prospects are better with a 2 year diploma. You are also required to get a certification.
Necessary Skills: You need to understand basic mathematics with excellent spelling and reading skills being important. You also need to be precise and accurate with good communication and customer service skills.
Potential Employers: Pharmacists hire technicians for their pharmaceutical companies, but hospitals, and nursing homes also hire pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy Tech Salary:

A pharmacy technician, on a part time basis, usually earns an hourly wage between $10.00 and $13.00 per hour. Some full time pharmacy technicians earn an average of $30,000 per annum.

Track the latest salary trends here:

Helpful Links:
Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
Pharmacy Tech Resources
Pharmacy Technician Schools
National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA)

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