Pharmacists have complicated, demanding jobs and oftentimes require assistance in order to perform their tasks at the required pace. Without the help of pharmacy technicians to sort and prepare medications, these pharmacists would not be able to succeed in their careers.
Pharmacy technicians are responsible for the organization and efficiency of their work places. They must handle medications extensively, deal with patients and customers, and work closely with resident pharmacists. Pharmacy technicians must be very careful and diligent in their work to avoid dangerous mistakes such as the administration of an improper medication to a patient.
In terms of hourly wages, the middle fifty percent of pharmacy technicians earn between $10.95 and $15.88. In the top ten percent of pharmacy technicians, the highest paid workers earn roughly $18.98 per hour, and the lowest ten percent earn less than $9.27, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Although not mandatory, pharmacy technicians who have completed some outside training are far more likely to enjoy higher salaries. There are numerous training and certification programs for prospective technicians. These programs make an aspiring pharmacy technician more attractive to potential employers, and also teach the pharmacy technician numerous skills that will aid him or her in their upcoming career.
Job Description and Outlook
The specific roles of a pharmacy technician vary depending on the technician’s job location, but these technicians generally share a few common responsibilities wherever they work. Pharmacy technicians must handle prescriptions in an organized and efficient manner. They must receive and process prescriptions, then help the resident pharmacists to prepare the medications. A pharmacy technician might count out the specific number of pills or tablets required in a prescription. They may have to weigh out the correct amount of a substance, or measure liquid medications. After the correct amount of medication has been achieved, the pharmacy technician must choose an appropriate container for the tablets or liquid, package the prescription, and label the bottle or box. The medication is then filed for verification by the pharmacist.
Depending on the pharmacy technician’s place of work, he or she may have other responsibilities to attend to as well. When a pharmacy aide is not available for clerical and retail work, it is the pharmacy technician’s job to perform all duties involved with the sale of prescriptions. This is especially common at drug stores or other retail locations that offer a pharmacy service. In these cases, pharmacy technicians may have to work at the cash register, keep and maintain patient profiles, or keep sales records.
The job outlook for prospective pharmacy technicians is excellent. The amount of available jobs for pharmacy technicians is estimated to increase at a faster pace than normal, with job growth listed at twenty-five percent through the year 2018. This is due to a number of reasons. As health care becomes more available, an increased number of people will have access to prescription drugs, thus creating a need for more pharmacy technicians to organize and prepare these medications. Advancements in medical science are leading to an increased number of available prescription drugs for doctors to administer. Finally, increasing numbers of elderly and middle-aged people lead to the prescription of more medications for various health problems that are onset by age.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
There are no standard requirements to become a pharmacy technician, although some states mandate the possession of a high school diploma or GED. In any case, employers will favor applicants in possession of a diploma over those without. There is no required training program to become a pharmacy technician. Most of these technicians receive their training in an informal setting, oftentimes through on-the-job lessons given by future coworkers. Applicants who have prior experience in a retail setting will have an advantage at many pharmaceutical locations where pharmacy technicians must deal with the sale of prescription medication as well as their preparation.
Certification is optional for most pharmacy technicians. However, many states require that pharmacy technicians be registered with the state board of pharmacy. This registration usually involves the achievement of certain certification requirements (for instance, the possession of a high school diploma in some states) as well as a small application fee.
However, although certification is not mandatory, certified pharmacy technicians generally enjoy larger wages and more job opportunities than those who are not certified. To achieve certification, the pharmacy technician must possess a high school diploma or GED, and must pass an examination verifying his or her skills and abilities. Certified pharmacy technicians must undergo recertification every two years. This process involves ‘continuing education hours,’ which are work experience hours earned at a local college, at a pharmacy association, or though a pharmacy technician training program.
There are numerous professional associations founded for the benefit of pharmacy technicians. The National Pharmacy Technician Association, the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians, and Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education are just a few of the many organizations that offer services and information to pharmacy technicians. These associations offer certification programs, send out newsletters detailing recent pharmaceutical news, and provide a location for pharmacy technicians everywhere to pool their knowledge about their careers.
Most popular careers in Health:
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Billing and Coding
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Pharmacy Technician
- Health Administration
- Medical Sonographer
- Dental Assistant