Pharmacy Technician Jobs offer promising career prospects for essential members of the healthcare industry who work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists. They ensure patients receive prescribed medications accurately and on time, manage inventory, and maintain patient records. With increasing demand for their services, Pharmacy Technician Jobs present an excellent career opportunity.
Job Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for prescription medications and subsequently for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase due to the aging population and increased access to healthcare services. As a result, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow at about the same pace as the average for all occupations, with a 4% increase from 2019 to 2029.
The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $35,100 in May 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $26,620, and the highest 10% earned more than $49,130. Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities tend to earn more than those working in retail pharmacies.
Pharmacy Technician Roles and Responsibilities:
Technicians play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive the correct medications in a timely and efficient manner. Some of the typical responsibilities of pharmacy technicians include:
- Receiving and processing prescription orders.
- Verifying insurance information and patient eligibility.
- Counting and measuring medications.
- Preparing prescription labels and instructions for use.
- Compounding medications (combining ingredients to create customized medications).
- Dispensing medications to patients.
- Maintaining accurate patient records and medication inventories.
- Answering patient questions and providing basic medication information.
- Managing medication recalls and expired medications.
- Assisting with administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments and handling insurance claims.
Pharmacy Technician Training and Certification:
Most pharmacy technician jobs require a high school diploma or equivalent, and completion of a pharmacy technician training program. These programs are available through community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals. They typically last between six months and two years and provide classroom instruction, laboratory training, and hands-on experience.
Pharmacy technician training programs cover a wide range of topics, including:
- Medical terminology.
- Pharmacy law and ethics.
- Pharmacology (the study of drugs and their effects on the body).
- Medication preparation and dispensing.
- Record-keeping and documentation.
- Basic math and science concepts.
While completion of a pharmacy technician training program may lead to some employers requiring certification, it is not always mandatory. Nevertheless, certification exams offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) are widely recognized by employers as a way to enhance job prospects and earning potential.
Pharmacy Technician Skills:
Pharmacy technicians need to have several essential skills to succeed in their jobs. These skills include:
Attention to detail:
Pharmacy technicians must be able to follow instructions precisely and accurately measure and dispense medications.
They must be able to manage multiple tasks and prioritize their work to ensure that medications are prepared and dispensed correctly and on time.
Pharmacy technicians need to communicate effectively with pharmacists, healthcare professionals, and patients to ensure that medications are prescribed, dispensed, and used correctly.
Basic math skills:
Pharmacy technicians must be able to perform calculations and conversions to ensure that medications are measured and dispensed accurately.
They must be familiar with computer programs and software used to manage medication inventories and patient records.
Pharmacy Technician Work Environment:
Pharmacy technicians can work in various settings, including:
Retail pharmacies are the most common work setting for pharmacy technicians. These pharmacies can be found in grocery stores, drugstores, and other retail establishments. Pharmacy technicians in retail settings typically work during regular business hours, including evenings and weekends.
Pharmacy technicians in hospital settings may work in inpatient or outpatient pharmacies, which are responsible for preparing and dispensing medications to patients who are staying in the hospital or receiving outpatient care. Hospital pharmacy technicians may work in shifts, including nights and weekends, and may need to be on call to assist with emergency situations.
Long-Term Care Facilities:
In long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in preparing and dispensing medications to residents. Additionally, they work collaboratively with healthcare professionals to monitor medication use and ensure that medications are being used safely and effectively.
Pharmacy technicians in mail-order pharmacies prepare and package medications for delivery to patients who receive their medications through the mail. This work can be done from a central location, and pharmacy technicians may work in shifts or have flexible schedules.
Pharmacy Technician Advancement Opportunities:
Pharmacy technicians can advance in their careers by gaining experience, completing additional training or education, or pursuing certification. Advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians may include:
Lead Pharmacy Technician:
Moreover, lead pharmacy technicians take on additional responsibilities that go beyond the duties of a regular pharmacy technician. In addition to supervising and training other pharmacy technicians, they perform more advanced tasks related to medication preparation and inventory management. Lead pharmacy technicians are also responsible for overseeing the accuracy and completeness of patient records, ensuring that all medications are stored and dispensed in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Furthermore, they may be involved in medication compounding, which entails the preparation of customized medications for patients with unique needs or conditions.
Pharmacy Technician Instructor:
Some experienced pharmacy technicians may choose to become instructors, teaching new pharmacy technician students.
Pharmacy Technician Specialist:
Technicians may specialize in certain areas, such as sterile compounding or medication therapy management.
Pharmacy Technician Supervisor:
Technicians with significant experience may advance to supervisory roles, overseeing the work of other pharmacy technicians and ensuring that pharmacy operations run smoothly.
Pharmacy technician jobs offer a promising career path for those interested in the healthcare industry. These professionals play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive the correct medications in a safe and efficient manner. With a projected job growth of 4% and a median annual salary of $35,100, pharmacy technician jobs offer good job prospects and earning potential.
To become a pharmacy technician, individuals must complete a training program and may need to obtain certification. Essential skills for pharmacy technicians include attention to detail, organizational skills, communication skills, basic math skills, and technical skills.
Pharmacy technicians can work in various settings, including retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, long-term care facilities, and mail-order pharmacies. Advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians include lead pharmacy technician, pharmacy technician instructor, pharmacy technician specialist, and pharmacy technician supervisor.
Overall, pharmacy technician jobs provide a rewarding career path with opportunities for advancement and growth within the healthcare industry.