Pharmacy Technician Overview
One of the many advantages of becoming pharmacy technician is that you will never have trouble finding a job. This career field is one of the easiest healthcare jobs which doesn’t require much qualification to get into. The job is also among the low paying healthcare jobs and most people use it as a stepping stone to climb up into better paying jobs in the same field or related industries. So there are always vacant positions to be filled. But this shouldn’t discourage you from perusing this career filed because it can open a lot of doors and if you need a job right away, you should give it serious consideration.
A lot of people go to nursing schools while working as a technician. Since the job involves a lot of mechanical tasks and less responsibilities, you may not be stressed that much unless you work for a big chain drug store or big hospitals. But you will face some physical exhaustion due to standing for a long time and lifting and carrying of heavy boxes full of medicines.
To become pharmacy technician, you don’t necessarily have to go to school to get pharmacy technician training. Some states require you to complete few months of training either in approved school or get trained on the job by the pharmacist in charge before applying for registration. Some states also require that you get certified either through PTCB or ExCPT. Even if your state doesn’t require training and certification, having those will make your life much easier on the job as well as you will increase your employablity substantially.
Training and Continuing Education
Most technicians gets hired as an intern and trained by their employer on the job. On the job training usually last any where from 3 to 12 months. Pharmacy technician training is also given by different community colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, and the military and it may take anywhere between 6 to 24 months. The training may include classroom and laboratory work. The subject you may take in CPTH courses include different medicine and medical terminologies and record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics as well as different pharmaceutical techniques. After completing your training or just before completion you may be assigned in a pharmacy to get more hands on training as an intern. The training will qualify you to receive certificate or a diploma or even an associate degree depending upon the training program.
Continuing education requirement also varies from state to state. Most states don’t require you to get continuing education; however, some do and as part of their rules and regulation every technician who wishes to renew his/her registration has to complete up to 20 hours of CE every renewal period. The CE hours and registration renewal period also varies from state to state. For your state requirements, please refer our list of state board of pharmacy.
PTCB certified pharmacy tech must complete at least 20 contact hours of continuing education during the two year period before re-certification. There are some requirements regarding ways how one should earn these CE credits and you may find this information on this page: Pharmacy Technician CE Credits
Once you complete your training, you will be required to get registered by state board of pharmacy. Pharmacy technician registration requirement doesn’t apply for all states but most states do need you to get registered. You dont need to be certified to get registered – you just need to pay the required fee to your state and submit your high school diploma or its equivalent (GED). Most probably the board my also ask for criminal background check.
In retail pharmacies and drug stores, typical pharmacy technician duties are:
- To receive prescriptions or requests for prescription refills from patients and process those.
- Pharmacy techs must verify that the information on the prescription, which the patient brought in, is complete and accurate. Sometimes prescription may also be sent to pharmacies electronically directly from the doctor’s office.
- The pharmacy tech prepares the prescription. Prescription medicine preparation may involve the following processes: retrieve medication, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication.
- Then, the technician prepares the prescription labels, select the type of prescription container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container.
- Once the prescription preparation is complete, the order has to be priced and filed
- Then the pharmacy tech will get everything checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient.
- Finally the technician will take care of some administrative works such as: establishing and maintaining patient profiles, preparing insurance claim forms, and stock and take inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Pharmacy technician responsibilities and duties may also be extended beyond these tasks or cut back depending on the state’s regulation and the work place. Techs who work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals may also have additional responsibilities.
What does the Pay Like?
The national median hourly pharmacy technician wage in 2008 was $13.32. That is $27,705.6 annually for 40 hours a week work. You can also increase earning by working overtime during weekends and in the evening. Depending on the company you are working for, you may also get a lot of different benefits: health insurance, paid leave, etc.
The main down side of this field of work is that there isn’t much room for advancing your career after becoming technician. Possible advances in this career field are supervisory positions, chemotherapy technician, nuclear pharmacy technician or sales. If you are also willing to take extensive formal training you can become pharmacist.