Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.
What they do
Pharmacy technicians typically do the following:
- Collect information needed to fill a prescription from customers or health professionals
- Measure amounts of medication for prescriptions
- Package and label prescriptions
- Organize inventory and alert pharmacists to any shortages of medications or supplies
- Accept payment for prescriptions and process insurance claims
- Enter customer or patient information, including any prescriptions taken, into a computer system
- Answer phone calls from customers
- Arrange for customers to speak with pharmacists if customers have questions about medications or health matters
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, who must review prescriptions before they are given to patients. In most states, technicians can compound or mix some medications and call physicians for prescription refill authorizations. Technicians also may need to operate automated dispensing equipment when filling prescription orders.
Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other medical facilities prepare a greater variety of medications, such as intravenous medications. They may make rounds in the hospital, giving medications to patients.
Pharmacy technicians spend most of the workday on their feet. Most pharmacy technicians work full time. Pharmacies may be open at all hours. Therefore, pharmacy technicians may have to work nights or weekends.
How to become a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians usually need a high school diploma or equivalent and learn their duties through on-the-job training, or they may complete a postsecondary education program in pharmacy technology. Most states regulate pharmacy technicians, which is a process that may require passing an exam or completing a formal education or training program.
Pharmacy technicians usually need a high school diploma or equivalent and typically learn their duties through on-the-job training. The training periods vary in length and subject matter according to the employer’s requirements.
Other pharmacy technicians enter the occupation after completing postsecondary education programs in pharmacy technology. These programs are usually offered by vocational schools or community colleges. Most programs award a certificate after 1 year or less, although some programs last longer and lead to an associate degree. They cover a variety of subjects, such as arithmetic used in pharmacies, recordkeeping, ways of dispensing medications, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also learn the names, uses, and doses of medications. Most programs also include clinical experience opportunities, in which students gain hands-on experience in a pharmacy.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accredits pharmacy technician programs that include at least 600 hours of instruction over a minimum of 15 weeks. In 2017, there were 309 fully accredited programs, including a few in retail drugstore chains.
Most states regulate pharmacy technicians in some way. Consult state Boards of Pharmacy for particular regulations. Requirements for pharmacy technicians in the states that regulate them typically include some or all of the following:
- High school diploma or GED
- Formal education or training program
- Continuing education
- Criminal background check
Some states and employers require pharmacy technicians to be certified. Even where it is not required, certification may make it easier to get a job. Many employers of pharmacy technicians will pay for employees to take the certification exam.
Two organizations offer certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification requires a high school diploma and the passing of an exam. Applicants for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and have completed a training program or have 1 year of work experience. Technicians must recertify every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education courses.
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $33,950 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,130.
Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The population is aging, and older people typically use more prescription medicines than younger people. Higher rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, among all age groups also will lead to increased demand for prescription medications. Advances in pharmaceutical research will allow for more prescription medications to be used to fight diseases.
Similar Job Titles
Accredited Pharmacy Technician; Billing and Quality Technician; Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT); Compounding Technician; Lead Pharmacy Tech, Certified Pharmacy Technician (Lead Pharmacy Tech, CPhT); Lead Pharmacy Technician (Lead Pharmacy Tech); Pharmacy Technician (Pharmacy Tech); Senior Pharmacy Technician; Technician; Technician, Inventory Specialist
Optician (Dispensing), Physical Therapist Assistant, Dental Assistant, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Aide
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Pharmacists Association
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- National Healthcareer Association
- National Pharmacy Technician Association
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
Magazines and Publications
- S. Pharmacist Journal
- Student Pharmacist Magazine
- Pharmacy Times Magazine
- Pharmacy Today Magazine
- Pharmacy Practice News Magazine
When a pharmacy technician or aide says they’ll give you a taste of your own medicine, you have nothing to worry about. Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. They receive written prescriptions and confirm their accuracy, and can measure and package medications, and label prescriptions. Technicians answer customers’ basic questions, and track lists of meds they receive. They may also process medical insurance forms. Pharmacy aides record and store deliveries of supplies and medications, and may accept prescriptions to be filled. They greet customers and provide basic information about their medications. They usually run the cash register in the pharmacy, and also prepare labels and keep the pharmacy area tidy. Many pharmacy technicians and aides work full time, and may work irregular shifts at 24-hour pharmacies. Technicians may enter the field by earning an associate degree, taking a short-term pharmacy technician program, or gaining work experience to develop the needed skills. Most, but not all, states require licensure and certification for pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy aides generally need a high school education, and train on the job. As the face of the pharmacy, pharmacy technicians and aides need customer service skills and a strong eye for detail. Ensuring customers receive the correct medication —in a timely fashion— is essential to our health care system.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org