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Pharmacy Technician Job Description, Career as a Pharmacy Technician, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Certification and previous experience preferred; on-the-job training

Salary Median—$12.32 per hour

Employment Outlook Good

Pharmacy technicians tend to have many responsibilities within the pharmacy which may include the following:

  • Receive and fill prescription requests (from nurses, hospitals, and patients)
  • Prepare, price, and file prescriptions for the pharmacist to check
  • Prepare insurance claim forms
  • Answer phones
  • Maintain inventory for over the counter medication
  • Maintain patient profiles
  • Handle money/cashier duties

All work is overseen by a pharmacist. In addition to pharmacy technicians, some employers hire pharmacy aides who work closely with the technicians in completing daily tasks.

Most pharmacy technicians work in hospitals, retail pharmacies, department stores, grocery stores, as well as nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Their jobs may require some heavy lifting, working evenings, weekends, and some holidays.

Pharmacy technicians should have strong customer service skills, be a team player, have good mathematical, spelling and reading abilities, and be willing to take direction. They should be responsible, precise, organized and have no record of substance or drug abuse.

Education and Training Requirements

Most employers seek pharmacy technicians who have experience, completed formal training, or are certified. Training is offered through colleges, some hospitals, and the military. Community colleges provide formal training which includes an internship, extensive educational programs, earning candidates an associate degree, a diploma, or a certificate.

Experience with managing inventory, measuring dosages, counting tablets, and computer knowledge is especially preferred. Persons pursuing pharmacy technician positions cannot have prior records of substance or drug abuse.

Certification for pharmacy technicians is provided by two organizations: Pharmacy Technician Certification Board; and, the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Certification is usually optional; however, few States require it. Certification is a plus when applying for a pharmacy technician position.

Getting the Job

Prospective candidates should apply directly to the employer.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The job outlook for pharmacy technicians is expected to be good for the next several years. Many technicians will take on the responsibilities of pharmacy aides and may eventually take on selected duties of the pharmacist. These demands will increase job opportunities for pharmacy technicians.

The job outlook for experienced pharmacy technicians and those with formal training is especially good. Positions will come available due to employment growth, and the need to replace those who leave the field.

Advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians are limited. They may move into supervisory positions, sales, advance into specialty positions, or become pharmacists with the proper schooling.

Working Conditions

Pharmacy technicians work in clean, well-ventilated, organized environments such as hospitals, health stores, nursing homes, retail pharmacies, medical stores, and assisted living facilities. Much of the time is spent on their feet, working closely with the pharmacist, as well as with pharmacy aides in some cases.

Pharmacy technicians work the same hours as the pharmacists and are employed either part-time or full-time, depending on the employer. They may be required to work evenings, weekends, and some holidays, especially in businesses open 24 hours a day. After gaining seniority with an employer, pharmacy technicians can negotiate their work schedule. Part-time job opportunities are especially ample within retail pharmacies and hospital settings.

Where to Go for More Information

Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
2215 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20037-2985

Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians
2536 S. Old Hwy. 94, Ste. 214
St. Charles, MO 63303

American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists
7272 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

National Pharmacy Technician Association
P.O. Box 683148
Houston, TX 77268

Earnings and Benefits

Pharmacy technicians’ median hourly salary in May 2006 was $12.32. Pharmacy Technicians employed by hospitals generally earn more money than those who work in grocery stores and pharmacy and drug stores. Technicians who are certified usually earn more money. Other factors that may affect a pharmacy technician’s salary include working different shifts, such as weekends and evenings, as well as belonging to unions.

Benefits vary depending on the company and work status. Full-time employees may receive benefits packages which include paid holidays, health and dental insurance, retirement plans, and paid training.

Additional topics

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