A pharmacy technician, also called a pharmacy tech, assists the on-duty pharmacist with preparing prescription medication for patients. A pharmacy technician might receive and process prescription requests from doctor’s offices. Depending on the state, a pharmacy tech can compound or mix medications and refill prescriptions authorized by doctors. Techs will also organize and stock the drug inventory and keep pharmacists in the know if there are any shortages.
Duties and Responsibility of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians duties and responsibilities can change from state to state and are dependent on the work setting, but general tasks that pharmacy techs perform, include:
- Filling bottles with prescribed medications from doctors, including typing and applying labels with directions and other important information for patients, and pre-packing any bulk medication requests
- If working in a retail pharmacy setting, a pharmacy tech will need to operate the cash register
- Resolving any issues, concerns or complaints made by patients
- Calling doctors for authorization to refill prescriptions
- Typing up prescription information details for labels for packages and medication bottles
- Keeping detailed records of medications that are on-hand and other inventory requirements
- Resolving issues with patients health insurance coverage
Salaries for pharmacy technicians can vary based on their area of experience, years of experience, education, certification, work setting, and geographic location. Here is information from the U.S Bureau Labor Statistics, 2018 states:
- Median Annual Salary is $32,700
- Lowest 10% Annual Salary is $22,749
- Highest 10% Annual salary is $48,010
As of May 2018, the median annual salaries reported for pharmacy technicians in the top industries were as follows:
- Hospitals – $37, 390
- General merchandise stores – $31,450
- Pharmacies and drug stores – $30,470
Education Required to Become a Pharmacy Technician
There are many options of pharmacy technician programs available. Depending on your geographic location, you can determine if you are required to complete a certificate program or an associate degree.
- Certificate programs – Certificate programs are an excellent choice if you are considering making a career choice. Certificate programs vary in length, usually up to a year to complete. In a certificate program, participants have the opportunity to gain hands-on job experience in a pharmacy.
- Associate degree program (A.A.) – An associate degree is two years, and in the end, participants receive distinguished credentials. With an A.A., you have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a four-year degree later.
What Skills Should a Pharmacy Technician Have?
Along with the right training, someone interested in becoming a pharmacy technician should have the following skills:
- Active listening – pharmacy technicians need to be able to listen and understand doctors’ and customer’s instructions, requests, and inquiries.
- Communication – pharmacy technicians need to be able to communicate information to pharmacists, doctors, and customers.
- Attention to detail – pharmacy technicians need to have excellent care to detail when filling prescriptions and preparing labels.
- Organizational skills – pharmacy technicians have to be well organized in managing tasks and problems throughout the day.
The job outlook for a pharmacy technician over the next ten years is growing faster than other industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth is driven by the increase in demand for prescription medication, brought on by an aging population, and increased incidents of chronic diseases like diabetes. Employment options for pharmacy technicians are considered to grow by 12% over the next ten years.
Majority of pharmacy technician jobs are in pharmacies and drug stores, but there are pharmacy technician jobs that are situated in a hospital or general merchandise environment.