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What is a Pharmacy Technician
A pharmacy technician is responsible for assisting pharmacists in the workplace. Certified or licensed pharmacy technicians will take prescriptions, count tablets, bottle medication and serve customers under the supervision of a pharmacist. Requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician vary by state, but even in those states that do not require it is advised to pursue certification as it provides the training necessary to work and provides an advantage over other potential employees.Pharmacy technicians provide a solid backbone for a pharmacy and pharmacist, being legally allowed to perform many of the tasks that may otherwise diminish a pharmacists ability to assist customers and patients.
Programs for pharmacy technicians take between six months and two years. A program for becoming a pharmacy technician will provide students with a basic education and understanding in chemistry, pharmaceuticals, and customer service. Students will learn the basic operations of a pharmacy, and depending on the state, the various tasks that they may perform in a pharmacy setting. Additionally students will study basic business, accounting and law classes for a better understanding of some of the non-pharmaceutical aspects of the business. As a result, students of such programs will have a well rounded understanding of how pharmacies operate by the time a program is completed.
A curriculum in a pharmacy technician program may include:
- Chemistry for Pharmacy
- Business Office Machines
- Medical Terminology
- Pharmacy Law
Pharmacy technicians will find work within the numerous pharmacies located throughout the United States. These include those found in hospitals, supermarkets, large pharmacy chains and privately owned pharmacies. The role of a pharmacy technician is to assist a licensed pharmacist in customer care and preparation, though pharmacy technicians are typically unqualified to answer questions regarding treatment or medication. Pharmacy technicians provide assistance in the daily operations of the pharmacy. Some individuals may pursue a career as pharmacy technician then pursue the education necessary to become a pharmacist alongside their work. PharmD programs often choose pharmacy technicians due to their experience and knowledge making them better candidates as pharmacists.
Job Growth, Salary, Additional Information, and Related Fields
The job market for pharmacy technicians is expanding as the population gets older. The demand for pharmacists is expected to increase in the coming years and in turn the demand for technicians is also expected to increase. Currently there is a shortage of pharmacists, as there are not enough programs producing pharmacists to meet the demands of populace. This gap is expected to grow as healthcare becomes more readily available to the populace, and the average age of the citizenry of the United States increases. As a result, the growth of positions for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase to offset the lack of pharmacists available as a whole, and increasing opportunities for technicians as a whole. As the market increases, so do the responsibilities of the technician which over the years have seen the inclusion of clerical work, mixing, and intake quickly becoming part of the technician's job. Though there is little room for advancement, in larger pharmacies or stores it is possible for experience technicians to obtain supervisory positions.
Though it is possible to work in a pharmacy without certification or licensure, ones income will dramatically increase if they choose to do so. The average income of a pharmacy technician is approximately $28,000 per year, with the entry level income being approximately $19,000. One should see an increase in income with certification. Individuals who maintain long term employment or garner significant experience may also see increases in pay over the course of their career. Those who work in larger pharmacies and obtain supervisory positions will be among the highest earners.
For additional information on pharmacy, check out our Pharmacy Career Guide on our blog.