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How To Become a Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Technician

How To Become a Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician works with licensed pharmacists. They help make sure that the prescriptions are safely and accurately handled. They support customers and assist them in improving their well-being.

A pharmacy technician’s work involves relating well with licensed pharmacists and customers. They count, mix, weigh and measure medications properly. It is vital for pharmacy technicians to be accurate. This guarantees success in this particular career. They also authenticate the physician’s prescriptions. They also have the responsibility to maintain patient records. Not only do they track insurance details, they also help clients with the insurance documents. It isn’t part of a pharmacy technician’s responsibility to be consulted by clients regarding their medications. Rather, it’s the pharmacist’s.

[divider]Quick Facts [/divider]

  • Median Salary $28,400/year or $13.65/hour
  • Education Requirements High school diploma or equivalent
  • Professionals Employed 334,400
  • 10 Years Job Outlook 32%
  • 10 Years Job Growth 108,300

Important Skills for a Pharmacy Technician

Anyone considering this type of career needs to have confidence. This is important to establish one’s credibility in front of clients. A pharmacy technician must be able to work well with others. For instance, pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and nursing facilities need to coordinate with other members of the health team. Each day is considered a learning experience. Although training provides an individual with sufficient information to be a pharmacy technician, experience still has more knowledge to offer. Accuracy is essential; thus, if one is not sure about something, it is best to ask questions. This doesn’t mean that an individual lacks abilities. Instead, they are willing to learn. Pharmacists are aware that this may happen at times and they are willing to help in case it does.

For maximum learning experience, it is best to work in a busy pharmacy. An individual will be able to make more use of their time. It’s more enjoying since one gets to know several people. It also makes one feel that time goes faster. When handling patient prescription, remember to always observe privacy. To uphold the rights of patients, a pharmacy technician should treat prescriptions as private information. Pharmacy technicians can be penalized if they fail to support these rights.

A pharmacy technician is an exciting and emerging career for many as more and more individuals are dependent on medications and as more and more conditions are finding cures with pharmaceuticals.

Pharmacy technicians are vital to the business of the local pharmacy and going through a proper training program will help ensure you are hired for the best and most well paid pharmacy technician position available.

Behind every great pharmacist is a hard working, motivated pharmacy technician. These individuals are saddled with the responsibility of making the pharmacy operate efficiently and smoothly.

They work directly under the supervision of the pharmacist, and must be meticulous in their job to avoid mistakes that could endanger the lives or safety of their customers.

If you are considering stepping into the health care field and becoming a pharmacy technician, use the following information as a guide to help you determine whether this job is the right one for you.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

Just what does a pharmacy technician do? The pharmacy technician does many things behind the counter to keep the pharmacy running. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics pharmacy technicians complete several things during a given shift.

The major goal of the pharmacy technician is to help licensed pharmacists get medication and other such products to patients. To that end the technician verifies prescriptions, ensures everything is correct on the prescription and makes sure that all needed information is on the prescription. Then in preparing the medication the technician retrieves, counts, pours, weighs, measures, and sometimes mixes medication. Then the technician makes medication labels, chooses a container for the medication, and applies the label and any additional warning labels to the container.

Pharmacy technicians are responsible for many different tasks in a pharmacy clinic, and these tasks will vary depending on how large or small the clinic is.

The Pharmacists checks all medications the pharmacy technician has prepared prior their release to the patient. The technician then prices and files the prescriptions, maintains patient profiles, files insurance claims, takes inventory and stocks shelves. If a patient has any questions regarding medications or health the pharmacist is the one to answer all questions that patients have. The technician is not to render any advice or answer health and prescription related questions. Some technicians can work in a hospital setting where their roles are a little bit different as they have a bit more responsibility.

In a large clinic, a pharmacy technician would most likely be responsible for performing the following tasks:

  • Measuring medication and filling prescriptions
  • Working with patients
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Handling insurance claims
  • Handling and ordering supplies

At a smaller pharmacy, many pharmacy technicians would be utilized for more administrative purposes, such as:

  • Taking prescription orders
  • Handling the cash register
  • Answering phones
  • Labeling prescription bottles
  • Assessing inventory and stocking new over-the-counter and prescription medications

Why should I go into a Pharmacy Technician Education Program?

While some pharmacies do train technicians onsite it is not the formal training that one receives from training programs. It is job specific and isn’t transferable. That is it’s not universal. Pharmacies are more likely to hire someone who has attended and completed a Pharmacy Technician Education Program and that individual is likely to make more money during their career. The pharmacy technician position career is expected to grow 32% over the next few years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Educational Requirements for Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Most states do not require educational training for pharmacy technicians, although most require these individuals to have a least a high school diploma or GED. Many technicians are trained on-the-job by pharmacists for about three months.

The programs are generally available at community colleges, hospitals, and technical schools and can last anywhere from six months to two years. Students in these programs will be expected to take courses covering pharmaceutical and medical terminology, recordkeeping, pharmacy ethics, pharmacy law, and many other pharmacy-related classes

There are education programs available to those who wish to become pharmacy technicians, however, and these are looked favorably on by many employers.

After a pharmacy technician has received training, either on-the-job or through a specific college program, he or she can obtain voluntary certification through either the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

An exam must be taken, to test the knowledge of the pharmacy technician, before he or she can obtain certification.

While most states do not require this certification, having it may increase the pharmacy technician’s chances of finding higher paying employment.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

In some workplaces, on-the-job training is enough to be qualified for the job. However, if an individual is interested in better career opportunities, then they should undergo formal pharmacy technician training programs. Through a combination of laboratory and classroom instruction, these programs present an individual with a certificate or diploma. The courses included are interpretation of prescriptions, pharmacy math, pharmacy law, dosage calculations, pharmacy keyboarding and inventory management. It is also advised for pharmacy technicians to volunteer their services in hospitals or community pharmacies.

Pharmacy technicians can work in retail, mail order, or hospital and nursing facilities. If an individual is interested in working with customers, then retail is a great choice. These jobs can be found in drug stores and local grocery stores. Benefits include health insurance, retirement plan, regular working hours, and opportunities for promotion. Mail order is a good career opportunity for those who want to work independently. The responsibilities of the pharmacy technician are to receive mail order prescriptions, to precisely interpret them, measure them and label them.

Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and nursing facilities are tasked to become a dedicated member of the health team and to render personal patient care. Their duties include filling medical orders of patients, delivering medical orders every day, and recording dosages in patient records.

If a pharmacy technician has received sufficient training and has gained a lot of experience, then he/she can be eligible in taking the role of a manager, specialist or administrator.

Students entering into a Pharmacy Technician Program generally enter with a specific set of skills such as a high school diploma or GED, no history or record of drug abuse in their past. In addition a love of customer service, listening to people, attention to detail, ability to be alert, observant, organized and responsible are vital. Math, spelling and reading skills complete the list of required skills. Teamwork is important but it is also important to be able to work independently. These skills are vital to success according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you have some or all of these skills than look into this program.

In the Pharmacy Technician Schools students learn from books and in labs. The courses include medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping, pharmaceutical techniques, pharmacy laws and pharmacy ethics. In addition to all these vital courses students in a Pharmacy Technician Education Program will also learn medication names, generic alternative names, mechanisms of actions, usages of medications and doses of medication.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics an Internship is often the end requirement of a Pharmacy Technician Education Program. Depending on the type of Pharmacy Technician Education Program you enrolled in you will either receive a certificate of training completion or an associate’s degree so, choose carefully.

If you want to become a pharmacy technician, consider the following tips:

  • Pharmacy Tech Training – If you want to start out in this industry quickly, ask around at local pharmacies to see which ones offer on-the-job training for their technicians. If you would rather earn a certificate or degree in this field, enroll in a local vocational school or community college with a pharmacy technician program.
  • Pharmacy Tech Certification – Even if your state does not require it, take the exam to obtain your certification anyway. It will set you apart from the rest of the applicants when you are searching for employment, and will show you have the skills necessary in order to work in this area of the health care field.
  • Pharmacy Tech Employment – When applying for employment as a pharmacy technician, consider what you love most about the job. Do you enjoy the administrative duties or would you rather spend the day filling and dispensing medication? The size of the pharmacy you are applying to could determine your job duties, so keep this in mind.

Salary and Benefits for Pharmacy Technicians

According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for a pharmacy technician with three years of experience or less is about $31, 768. A pharmacy technician with four or more years of experience, however, can expect to make a little more, about $36,325 a year.

If a pharmacy technician has six years or more of experience and is promoted to the position of pharmacy technician supervisor, he or she may earn about $47,718 annually. The yearly salary can increase however, with additional training and certification.

Along with this salary, pharmacy technicians can expect the following  job benefits:

  • Health insurance
  • 401k plan for retirement
  • Professional liability coverage
  • Reimbursement for fees associated with obtaining certification

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that Technicians who are successful often find themselves as supervisors, mentors or trainers. Another option is to go into pharmaceutical sales. Still others choose to go into specialized medical fields like chemo therapy or nuclear pharmacy technician.

If you enjoy working with customers and performing administrative duties, make your mark on the health care field by becoming a pharmacy technician.