Explore what it takes to eventually become a pharmacy technician. Discover career obligations, employment outlook, education requirements and certification to find out if this is the vocation for you. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology certifications can also be found in these popular options.

Just what Is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians work with the supervision of licensed pharmacists to fill prescription orders for individuals. Many hold a job in pharmacies or hospitals. Their day-to-day activities involve taking information needed to fulfill a prescription, measuring amounts of medicine, tagging prescriptions, coordinating stock and informing pharmacists of any shortages. Pharmacy technicians will likely often need to process charges and insurance provider claims, answer business phone calls, record patient information into the computer system and notify the pharmacist of any questions from customers. Depending on the state in which they do business, pharmacy technicians may also be authorized to blend, combine and/or administer some prescription medications. Have a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this profession.

Degree RequiredNo formal education required; however, associate’s degree, certificate or diploma preferred
Education DisciplinePharmacy technician
Key CompetenciesVerify and fill prescriptions, coordinate with insurance provider, maintain records
Registration/CertificationThe majority of states mandate registration; voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024)9%*
Average Compensation (2015)$31,680*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Exactly What Job Duties Will I Carry Out as a Pharmacy Technician?

As a pharmacy technician, you are going to assist a licensed pharmacist with providing customer service and preparing patients’ prescription medications. Your duties could involve authenticating prescriptions, counting or measuring proper amounts of medications, preparing prescription labels, maintaining patient records, submitting insurance claims and directing drug-related queries to a pharmacist. In the event that your employer does not have pharmacy assistants, you may also answer phones, operate cash registers and maintain inventory.

Just What Type of Job Outlook is Anticipated?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasted that employment for pharmacy technicians would increase by 9% over the 2014-2024 decade, which was faster than average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). This growth was due partly to an increasing elderly population, an increasing amount of people with access to prescription drug coverage and the advancement of new pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, some pharmacy technicians were expected to take on a larger share of pharmacy aides’ administrative and clerical responsibilities. Acquiring experience, completing formal education and acquiring certification may help improve your job prospects.

What Education Prerequisites Are Required?

Regardless of the fact that pharmacy technicians have no formal education requirements, many recruiters opt to hire those who have graduated from a formal training program and earned certification, according to the BLS. Formal training programs typically range in length from 6-24 months and may result in a certificate, diploma or associate’s degree. Courses commonly covered include medical terminology, pharmacy regulations and ethics, pharmacology and mathematics. You may also be required to obtain clinical experience or complete an internship. If you choose not to complete a formal training program, you need to complete a period of on-the-job training which may last 3-12 months.

Every state has its own credentialing guidelines for pharmacy technicians. Most mandate that you have a high school diploma, pay a fee and register with your state’s board of pharmacy. Although certification is not always mandated, you may obtain it voluntarily with a private organization, like the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). If you become certified, you must participate in continuing education and periodically renew your certification.

Exactly what Are Some Related Alternative Occupations?

There are a handful of related professions that call for a minimum of a post-secondary non-degree award, such as a certification or diploma. A few of these include medical transcriptionists, medical assistants and medical records and health information technicians. Medical transcriptionists convert recordings of medical professionals into prepared reports. They can also review and edit medical documents. Medical assistants help doctors by completing clinical and administrative tasks. Medical records and health information technicians deal with health information data. This includes checking documents for accuracy, keeping medical histories and using classification systems to code relevant information.

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