Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in their day to day tasks. These professionals work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist or another health care provider. Their job is to perform tasks related to the preparing and dispensing of pharmaceutical drugs. They are also asked to perform clerical duties as well. Pharmacy technicians may work in pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies and other locations.
The need for skilled pharmacy technicians is high due to an increasing senior population. It is a very stable career which will continue to grow in the coming years.
Pharmacy technicians are usually included in all pharmacy functions except those which require the proficiency of a licensed pharmacist. They are involved in keeping patient records, handling inventories and managing insurance claims.
Pharmacy technicians working in neighborhood pharmacies and similar institutions may be responsible for manning the cash register. They also handle clerical work and other administrative functions. Technicians working in hospitals or larger pharmacies may have different job responsibilities. They usually focus their attention on handling medications. They measure, weigh, count and mix medications as well. Some work and deal directly with physicians, patients and other customers. Those working in health care facilities may have the additional jobs of reading patient charts and delivering medications to patients.
What Are the Job Responsibilities of Pharmacy Technicians?
Unlike some office workers, pharmacy technicians are usually active most of the time. They do physical work such as climbing ladders, lifting boxes and working behind the counter. Most pharmacies and health care facilities operate 24/7. Therefore, some of these professionals are assigned to night shifts.
Can I Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Yes, any person who is 18 years or older and has passed a criminal background check can be a pharmacy technician. To become a successful pharmacy technician, one must be well-organized, dependable and be able follow instructions accurately. Strong interpersonal skills create a significant advantage as well. Most institutions require a working knowledge of computers since pharmacy technicians are asked to enter information into a database.
Pharmacists handle tightly regulated, highly controlled substances in large quantities, therefore, a pharmacy technician candidate needs to be extremely careful and accurate in handling and preparing medications to ensure the well-being of the patients.
How Do I Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Right now, there are no standard educational requirements to become a pharmacy technician. However, some states in the U.S. require possession of high school diploma or GED certificate. Therefore, it would be beneficial for aspiring pharmacy technicians to finish high school first before venturing into this field. Training is also not compulsory as most pharmacy technicians learn on the go. Usually, they receive informal training while at work. Once they are familiar and comfortable with the procedures and guidelines, they are allowed to work independently.
Individuals with prior experience as a cashier in retail stores will have an advantage over those without experience. These individuals already have a working knowledge with sales and inventories. Bear in mind that employers often favor those with prior experience or applicants with certifications. It would be helpful to complete a training program and pass the certification exam.
How Much Will I Earn as a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician salary depends on several different factors such as experience, work qualifications, location of practice, size of institution and many others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for technicians is $28,400 as of May 2010. The lowest tenth percentile earns $19,840 while the pharmacy technicians at the other end of the pay scale earn as much as $40,710.
Work experience is a huge factor in the pay scale of a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians with less than one year experience earn from $7 to $13 an hour. Once they have worked for 5 years, the salary is expected to rise to as much as $17 per hour.
Salary also depends on the qualifications of the technicians. Pharmacy technicians without formal education or training usually earn less than those with certifications. Furthermore, pharmacy technician income relies on the location of practice. Technicians working in bigger cities earn more than those in smaller ones. The average wage of pharmacy technicians in San Jose, California is $41,940 per year compared to the salary of pharmacy technicians in non-metropolitan area of Alabama which is $21,180 annually.
The size of pharmacy affects pay as well. You can expect a good pay scale if you work for bigger hospitals and pharmacies. Neighborhood pharmacies tend to give a smaller hourly rate for technicians. According to a survey done by Occupational Employment Statistics in 2008, the average annual salary for those working at hospitals is $32,180 while drug store pharmacy technicians earn $26,660 annually.