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Pharmacy Technician

The pharmacy technician is usually the first person a customer sees when stepping up to the pharmacy counter. You’re part salesperson, part pharmacist support. You spend a lot of time on your feet, but you aren’t standing around doing nothing. Your shift will vary depending on where you work, but it will be similar to the pharmacist’s day.

You can expect retail hours, so evenings, weekends, and holidays. If you’re employed in a hospital pharmacy, then your hours can be even more sporadic since they are open 24 hours a day.

What Is Pharmacy Technology

You’ll mainly work in either a retail pharmacy or in a hospital, but your duties will be fairly similar either way. Your main point of contact will be the pharmacist you work under.

As a pharmacy technician, you’ll:

  • Take the prescription information and give it to the pharmacist to fill.
  • Answer phone calls.
  • Connect the patient to the pharmacist for any questions needing answering.
  • Keep track of, order, and organize, the medical inventory.
  • Prepare labeling and packaging of prescriptions. Keep patient records in the computer program system.
  • Verify information with customers to insure accuracy.
  • Work with insurance agencies on patient prescription fills.
  • Use the automated dispensing system, if available.

If you work in a hospital, you may do all of the above, plus:

  • Compound medical mixtures.
  • Assist with inpatient and outpatient dispensing.
  • Make rounds in the hospital to dispense the medication to the patient.

The majority of jobs will be found in retail pharmacies located in drugstores or independent companies.

How To Become A Pharmacy Technician

Before deciding to become a pharmacy technician, you need to determine if your personality and soft skills are suitable to the career. Since it’s a very consumer facing career, your interpersonal communications should be good. You’ll be dealing directly with people whose moods may run the gamut. You pay attention to the tiniest details, and you’re super organized—both of which will serve you will in this industry. And, you have a grasp on basic math skills. If you can say yes, that’s totally you, to all those qualities, then you’re definitely headed into the right career.

Here’s how to become a pharmacy technician:

  • You need your high school diploma or GED.
  • Typically, most pharmacy technicians begin their career through on-the-job training.
  • Certificates are also available, so if that’s the route you’re considering, then look at your local community college or trade school for an accredited program.
  • Your training program should take about one year to complete, unless you’re getting an associate degree. Associate degrees take two years of full-time schooling to finish.
  • Most states will require licensing, so check with your state board to find out what you will need to do.

There are two organizations you can get certified through: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcare Association. Both have continuing education requirements every two years from your initial certification.

Salary And Job Outlook For Pharmacy Tech

The average pharmacy technician salary in 2023 was $43,330, with the top 10 percent making $57,130 or more. Your pay will be determined by where you work, your experience, and what state you live in. You’ll find that industries such as outpatient care centers, the federal government, and medical and diagnostic laboratories pay the highest salaries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists that the top paying states for pharmacy technicians in 2023 were:

  • California ($55,710)
  • Washington ($55,390)
  • Oregon ($50,440)
  • Alaska ($49,810)

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected there will be an additional 44,900 pharmacy technician jobs opened between now and 2032. More expectations are being placed on pharmacy techs due to the pharmacists being inundated with more patient care such as giving shots.

Many tasks were originally delegated to the pharmacist, but these are now being completed by technicians, such as getting certain prescriptions ready, completing paperwork, and overseeing other technicians.