Pharmacy technicians are an integral part of the pharmacy team. The primary duties of pharmacy technicians are to receive prescription requests, prepare prescriptions, and handle related paperwork. They provide customer service and perform administrative duties. Pharmacy technicians must verify the accuracy of prescriptions. They also prepare prescriptions, which involves counting tablets; pouring, weighing, or measuring medications; and sometimes mixing medications. After preparing the prescription, the pharmacy technician then creates labels, selects an appropriate container, applies cautionary and informative labels to the container, and prices and files the prescription. Technicians also perform administrative work, which can include creating and maintaining patient profiles and completing insurance claim forms. All work is performed under the supervision of a pharmacist.
Many pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies, but other employment options include assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals. In these environments, pharmacy technicians have additional responsibilities, such as recording information on patient profiles, delivering medications to nurses or doctors, and preparing sterile solutions.
Pharmacy technicians can expect abundant job opportunities and a high rate of employment. From 2008 to 2018, employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 31 percent. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that insurers will begin using pharmacies as patient-care centers in the coming years. Pharmacists will become more involved in patient care, and the role of pharmacy technicians will also be expanded.
Job opportunities are projected to be especially good for pharmacy technicians who have previous experience or formal training or who have earned the Certified Pharmacy Technician designation.
Median hourly wages of pharmacy technicians in May 2008 were $13.32. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.95 and $15.88. The highest 10 percent earned more than $18.98. Certified Pharmacy Technicians may earn more than non-certified technicians. Some technicians belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers.
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Research, Explore, and Become a Pharmacy Technician
In most states, pharmacy technicians must be registered with the state board of pharmacy. Eligibility requirements vary, but in some states, applicants must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and pay an application fee.
While there are no standard education requirements for pharmacy technicians, prospective employees who pursue education and certification have an edge over other applicants. Technician education programs are available online and in the classroom and can include such subjects as medical and pharmaceutical terminology, basic anatomy related to the pharmacology of medications, and pharmaceutical calculations. They may also include internships or externships to provide hands-on experience in actual pharmacies. After completion, students receive a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, depending on the program.
Formal technician education programs may also prepare participants for certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) administer national certification examinations. Individuals who pass the exam earn the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). Certification is valid for two years and must be renewed every two years.
Review state and country requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician. This site lists Boards of Pharmacy in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: www.nabp.net/boards-of-pharmacy.
In order to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT), candidates must pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). Learn more about the exam at: www.ptcb.org/pharmacy exam.