Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists with a handful of essential tasks, the ultimate goal of which is to ensure optimal health and safety for their patients. For this reason, they are considered critical members of the healthcare team in whichever facility they choose to work.
Additionally, pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician can be quite rewarding, not only because you get to actively help improve quality of life for so many people, but also because there is significant room for growth along with an impressive salary.
In case you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, below is an overview of everything you need to know about being a pharmacy technician.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians perform vital roles in hospitals, clinics, and whichever facility they find themselves. Below is an overview of some of the most common roles and responsibilities of a pharmacy technician regardless of facility:
- Accurately stock and assemble medication so that they are well organized and easily retrievable.
- Accurately prepare and distribute patient medication when they are needed.
- Carry out calculations to enable accurate and efficient distribution.
- Prepare sterile medicines such as the ones used in cancer treatment.
- Handle billing claims with third party.
- Obtain patient medical histories and reconciliation.
- Help with managing investigational drug studies.
- Make use of relevant technological devices to ensure accurate record management, inventory management, and keep track of orders.
- Ensure that the pharmacy and medications are in line with regulatory requirements.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
There are a few different paths to becoming a pharmacy technician. Often, an individual must already have a diploma before they can begin the training process.
Training is done via a handful of alternatives, the first of which is to go through formal and standardized training in, say, a college.
It is also possible for a pharmacy technician to acquire their expertise through on-the-job training or online courses. It should be noted, however, that certain other factors such as certification, employment opportunities, and salary, can make some of these alternatives more attractive than others.
It is common to find pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and hospital systems. Here, they are usually involved in patient care along with their primary duty of filling and delivering prescriptions for patients daily.
Of course, a hospital isn’t the only kind of medical facility where pharmacy technicians work.
Other alternatives include working in ambulatory clinics, community pharmacies, and mail-order pharmacies.
A great deal of pharmacy technicians can be found in community pharmacies such as drug stores and local grocery stores. Here, their primary duty often involves receiving prescription requests (whether written or electronic) and performing medical reconciliation.
Of course, they must be able to verify the originality of these prescription requests and calculate the accurate dispensation.
Mail Order Pharmacies
Mail-order pharmacies are not necessarily as rigid as community pharmacies. Here, a pharmacy technician can work behind the scenes and serve a much more comprehensive range of customers.
Pharmacy technicians work the same hours as pharmacists. This means that if they secure employment in a facility that’s open 24/7, they should be prepared to work on holidays, weekends, at night, and in the evening.
Of course, as they acquire more work experience and seniority on the job, they may have more control over their work hours. It is also possible for a pharmacy technician to take on a more advanced role, particularly in a hospital setting, so that they’re able to perform tasks such as diversion prevention, supply chain management, transitions of care, and medical assistance programs.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
Pharmacy technicians in 2021 had a median pay of $36,740 per year and $17.6- per hour. Those who earn the most tend to earn as high as $47,580. Below are some of the reasons responsible for the differences in earnings.
Education Level - Naturally, pharmacy technicians with a higher level of education will make more money and have a higher appeal to employers. Also, completing an accredited training program helps make growth on the job a lot easier.
Certification - Another reason for the disparity of salaries between pharmacy technicians is certification. While certification isn’t always compulsory for all pharmacy technicians, some employers ask for it, and those who don’t still tend to pay certified technicians more than technicians who aren’t certified.
Location - Furthermore, it is possible for the salaries of pharmacy technicians to vary based on the state and city wherein they practice. Big cities with higher demand for medications, for instance, may pay more than small cities where demand isn’t as high.
Employer & Facilities - Lastly, the type of facility and employer can also greatly influence how much a pharmacy technician earns. Hospitals and large retail chains, for example, will typically pay more than smaller independent outlets.
It is possible for pharmacy technicians to improve themselves by acquiring specialized skills in certain areas such as health information systems, hazardous drug management, pharmacy automation, sterile compounding, revenue cycle management, and vaccine administration.
A survey by ASHP showed that about 56% of organizations provide advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians. Despite this, it is common for pharmacy technicians to keep performing their duties in their current roles for up to five years and more.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that even though pharmacy technicians are already in pretty high demand, the outlook for the occupation is even more encouraging. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians will see a 5 percent growth in a ten-year period between 2021 to 2041.
This rate is in line with the national average and will bring about 43,500 openings every year in this period. A lot of these openings will arise as a result of current workers moving to other occupations or retiring. Additionally, a great deal will be as a result of an increase in demand thanks to more prescriptions for older people and an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes for the general population.