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Are you interested in building a career where your organizational, customer-facing, and record-keeping skills are utilized? If so, you should take some time to consider a pharmacy technician job description. This career involves working under the supervision of pharmacists to prepare prescriptions, coordinate insurance payments, keep records of patient information, and manage inventory. Read on to learn more about the job requirements, compensation, and projected growth associated with this career.
What Does the Pharmacy Technician Job Description Include?
Pharmacy technicians are responsible for supporting pharmacists and serving customers in a pharmacy, hospital, grocery store, or nursing home.
One of the biggest aspects of the pharmacy technician job description is collecting information from patients and preparing prescriptions. This can involve measuring amounts of medications and operating machines which dispense it. After the prescriptions are prepared, pharmacists review them before they are given to patients. In hospitals, pharmacy technicians sometimes make rounds to administer medicine.
Another aspect of the pharmacy technician job description is taking information from patients, creating patient profiles, and updating records in the pharmacy or hospital. Pharmacy techs are also responsible for keeping records of the medications and the prescriptions being filled.
Pharmacy technicians provide an important link between patients and their insurance companies. They take information from patients and communicate with insurance companies, conveying information about what claims need to be paid. Usually, this involves preparing claim forms and handling other paperwork.
Pharmacy technicians communicate with patients and serve them directly, whether in person or on the phone. They greet the patients, verbally ascertain their requests, and redirect questions to the pharmacist when necessary.
Organizing medications and supplies in the pharmacy or hospital is an important element of the pharmacy technician job description. The role involves being aware of inventory levels, organizing storage spaces, and notifying pharmacists when something needs to be reordered. Pharmacy technicians manage inventory levels of both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
One way in which pharmacy technicians support customers and maintain the hospital or store environment is by handling cash and credit card transactions. This requires the ability to operate a cash rep, process credit cards, and otherwise act as a cashier.
Pharmacy technicians prepare labels and package medications as they are going out to patients.
The pharmacy technician job description is expanding now as pharmacists take on more responsibilities involving caring for patients. For example, many pharmacists now give flu shots. As a result, pharmacy technicians need to fill more types of prescriptions, supervise others, and perform other tasks that were previously in the job description of the pharmacist. Additionally, pharmacy technicians sometimes take on aspects of pharmacy aid that pertain to administrative work.
What Skills Are Necessary to Be a Pharmacy Technician?
Having a successful career as a pharmacy technician requires keen organizational skills, accuracy, and attention to detail. These come into play when taking orders and preparing prescriptions. Math skills and the ability to make accurate measurements are also necessary when measuring amounts. Pharmacy technicians need to have good people skills because they work directly with patients, the pharmacists, and contacts at insurance companies. Basic computer skills are necessary for record keeping and other administrative duties.
One thing to note about this job is that pharmacy techs will need to spend a lot of time on their feet every day. Pharmacy technicians must have the stamina necessary for this aspect of the job.
What Is the Working Environment Like?
The working environment for pharmacy technicians is generally safe and clean. Usually, pharmacist technicians work full time, although there are part-time positions available. Working hours include all times when a pharmacy is open. Working nights and weekends is usually required. Here is where pharmacy technicians worked most in 2018:
- Pharmacies (52%)
- Hospitals (17%)
- Grocery Stores (8%)
- Other stores (8%)
How Much Do Pharmacy Technicians Earn?
The median salary for a pharmacy technician is $12.32 per hour, or $32,700 annually. Of all the pharmacists working in 2018, 10% had an annual income that was less than $22,740 and 10% exceeded $48,010 in yearly earnings. Pharmacy technicians in hospitals tend to earn more money than pharmacy technicians who work in other places. Having certification can increase the compensation, as can belonging to a union and working overtime.
Earnings by Work Location:
- Pharmacies ($30,470)
- Hospitals ($37,390)
- Grocery stores ($30,640)
- Other stores ($31,450)
Career Advancement as a Pharmacy Technician
In this field, opportunities for advancement are not numerous. With certification and on-the-job experience, pharmacy technicians can more into supervisor roles and have increased responsibilities. With seniority comes the ability to negotiate working hours, in some cases. With additional training, some pharmacy technicians may become pharmacists. In general, however, pharmacy technicians stay in their role and work under the supervision of pharmacists.
Benefits for pharmacy technicians vary by employer. Full-time pharmacy technicians can have vacation time, health insurance, dental insurance, and retirement packages. Paid training is also sometimes available.
Projected Job Growth From 2018 to 2028
This field of work is expected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028. This is more than the projected growth for most occupations. In 2018, there were 420,400 jobs available for pharmacy technicians. In 2028, experts expect that there will be 451,900 jobs. This is an increase of 31,500 jobs.
Reasons for the Expected Job Growth
The U.S. population is aging, meaning that more people will need prescription drugs. Additionally, a greater percentage of the population now has access to healthcare and medication. Finally, pharmaceutical companies are developing more and more prescription drugs that are becoming available to the population. For this reason, more and more pharmacy technicians are needed to support the demand.
How Do You Become a Pharmacy Technician?
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A high school diploma is required to become a pharmacy technician. Additional credentials are not required in all states, but most employers prefer an associate’s degree, diploma, or certification. Job-specific training programs usually take between 6-24 months. In 2017, there were 309 training programs accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). For a program to be accredited, the ASHP requires at least 600 hours of training over 15 weeks.Internships and job experience are also helpful and sometimes required. If you choose to enter the field without completing a program, you can expect to undergo a training period lasting between 3 and 12 months.
Some states require that pharmacy technicians be certified, and some employers will pay for their employees to take the certification exam. There are two organizations that provide certification: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).For certification from PTCB, you must have a high school diploma and pass an exam. For certification from NHA, you must have a high school diploma, have completed a training program or one year of work-related experience, and you must be at least 18 years of age. Every two years, the NHA requires pharmacy technicians to re-certify with 20 hours of continuing education classes.
Most states require pharmacy technicians to register. To learn the specific requirements for your state, you can inquire with your State Board of Pharmacy. The registration typically involves paying a fee, showing your high school diploma, demonstrating that you have participated in a job training program (in some states), passing an exam, showing that you undergo continuing education, and having a criminal background screening.
Clean Record of Drug Abuse
To be a pharmacy technician, it is required that you do not have any records of substance abuse.
If you would like to learn more about the pharmacy technician job description, we recommend contacting the following organizations:
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board2215 Constitution Ave., NWWashington, DC 20037-2985https://www.ptch.org
Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians2536 S. Old Hwy. 94, Ste. 214St. Charles, MO 63303https://www.nationaltechexam.org
American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists7272 Wisconsin Ave.Bethesda, MD 20814https://www.ashp.org
National Pharmacy Technician AssociationP.O. Box 683148Houston, TX 77268https://www.pharmacytechnician.org
Being a Pharmacy Technician
The pharmacy technician career is currently very stable with good projected growth for the future. Pharmacy technicians work in clean, organized environments where they are on their feet, interacting with people, maintaining inventory, and making records. Being a team-player, having good communication skills, demonstrating a strong sense of responsibility, and strong organizational skills are all necessary to have success in this job.
The yearly earnings of most pharmacy technicians are around $32,700 per year, with some benefits, depending on the employer and the employee’s full time status. There are not many educational requirements to become a pharmacy technician, nor are there many opportunities for advancement other than by gaining time through seniority. Usually a high school diploma combined with certification, registration, and a job-specific training program are all that is needed to find a job. Once you have obtained a position, daily responsibilities generally entail preparing prescriptions, coordinating with insurance companies, taking account of inventory levels, and otherwise supporting the pharmacist.