A pharmacy technician works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to provide medication, health care products, as well as performing retail related duties.
If you are interested in health, enjoy working with people, and would like to work in a retail or hospital setting, then you might be interested in becoming pharmacy technician.
To become a pharmacy technician you will need to have a good understanding of biology and chemistry.
As you will often be working a cash register and balancing accounts, so math skills are important too.
You will spend a good amount of time communicating with customers, and interpersonal skills will be essential.
A pharmacy technician is also known as a pharmacy assistant in some places.
Education Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician
If you’re still in high school, taking subjects including math, sciences, health, and English are a good start to become a pharmacy technician.
If you can, a part-time job in a pharmacy will be helpful later on.
You will need to complete your high school diploma to work as a pharmacy technician.
After high school, you will need to complete a pharmacy technician certificate course, and this generally takes one to two years to complete.
You will learn a wide range of skills and knowledge concerning drugs, anatomy, health, and medical terminology.
These courses can be found at many local community colleges or vocational school.
You can also become a pharmacy technician by learning on the job.
Many pharmacists run apprenticeship like programs where you can get the skills you need just by working.
This pathway isn’t always the best however, because it will not allow you to gain certification, may not be possible in some states.
In most states you will need to pass an exam to become a certified pharmacy technician.
This qualification will be held in high regard by employers.
To keep it current, you will need to complete ten hours of professional development over each two year period.
You can find more information about gaining your pharmacy technician certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, or PTCB.
Pharmacy Technician Job Description
A pharmacy technician will fill patient’s prescriptions, this involves counting and measuring medications, mixing medications, and printing labels for drugs.
They will also spend time speaking with their customers, and providing instructions and advice on taking medications.
A pharmacy technician may also help with retail duties such as operating a register, keeping stock inventory, or helping customers on the shop floor.
Often they will assist with administrative tasks, such as filing insurance claims, keeping customer records, and maintaining databases.
They will always work under the supervision of a certified pharmacist.
Here are some of the duties of a pharmacy technician:
- Taking inquiries from customers
- Preparing medications
- Printing Labels
- Giving instructions on taking medications
- Answering phones
- Maintaining customer records
- Maintaining stock inventory
- Filing insurance claim forms
Pharmacy Technician Salary and Career Path
Most pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies, hospitals, medical stores, health care stores, mail order pharmacies, or nursing homes.
Many of these outlets are open 24 hours a day, so pharmacy technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, and even holidays.
Some pharmacy technicians begin their career by getting a job in a retail sector of a pharmacy, and then working their way up.
Others complete the pharmacy technician certification, and begin in this position.
As you gain experience as a pharmacy technician you can expect to earn a higher salary and take on more responsibility.
Certified pharmacy technicians earn a higher salary than non-certified technicians.
The median wage for a pharmacy assistant is $27,000 a year.
Those just starting out may earn around $24,000 a year, while those with a good amount of experience could earn closer to $38,000 a year.
Many pharmacy technicians move on to other positions in the health field later on in their career.
Related jobs that a pharmacy assistant might move onto include:
- Medical Researcher
- Pharmaceutical Researcher
- Dental Hygienist
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Records and Health Information Technician
- Medical Biller
If you’re looking to start your career in health, you might like to become a pharmacy technician.
Employment prospects in this sector are very strong, with plenty of work available across the country.
Working as a pharmacy technician also opens the door to many other careers in the health field.