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Pharmacy Technician

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QUICK FACTS
Pharmacy Technician
2010 Median Pay $28,400 per year
$13.65 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2010 334,400
Job Outlook, 2010-20 32% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 108,300

What Pharmacy Technicians Do

Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication.

Work Environment

Pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, including those found in grocery and drug stores, and in hospitals. Most work full time, but many work part time.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Becoming a pharmacy technician usually requires earning a high school diploma. Some states also require completing a formal training program and passing an exam.

Pay

The median annual wage of pharmacy technicians was $28,400 in May 2010.

Job Outlook

Employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 32 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.


What Pharmacy Technicians Do

Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication. They work in retail pharmacies and hospitals.

Duties

Pharmacy technicians typically do the following:

Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, who must review all prescriptions before they are given to patients. If a customer's question is about the medication or health matters, the pharmacy technician arranges for the customer to speak with the pharmacist.

Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other medical facilities prepare a greater variety of medications, such as intravenous medications. They may make rounds in the hospital, giving medications to patients.


Work Environment

Pharmacy technicians held about 334,400 jobs in 2010. They worked primarily in pharmacies, including those found in grocery and drug stores, and in hospitals. Pharmacy technicians spend most of the workday on their feet.

More than half of pharmacy technicians were employed in pharmacies and drug stores in 2010.

Work Schedules

Pharmacies may be open at all hours. Therefore, pharmacy technicians may have to work nights or weekends. Although most pharmacy technicians work full time, many work part time.


How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Becoming a pharmacy technician usually requires earning a high school diploma or the equivalent. Other requirements vary by state, with some states requiring passing an exam or completing a formal training program.

Education and Training

Many pharmacy technicians learn how to perform their duties through on-the-job training. Others attend postsecondary education programs in pharmacy technology at vocational schools or community colleges, which award certificates. These programs typically last 1 year or less and cover a variety of subjects, such as arithmetic used in pharmacies, recordkeeping, ways of dispensing medications, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also learn the names, actions, uses, and doses of medications. Many training programs include internships, in which students get hands-on experience in a pharmacy.

Licenses and Certification

Most states regulate pharmacy technicians in some way. Consult your state's Board of Pharmacy for its particular regulations. Requirements for pharmacy technicians typically include some or all of the following:

Some states and employers require pharmacy technicians to have certification. Even where it is not required, certification may make it easier to get a job. Many employers will pay for their pharmacy technicians to take the certification exam.

Two organizations offer certification: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Important Qualities

Customer service skills. Pharmacy technicians spend much of their time interacting with customers, so being helpful and polite are required of pharmacy technicians in a retail setting.

Detail oriented. Serious health problems can result from mistakes in filling prescriptions. Although the pharmacist is responsible for ensuring the safety of all medications dispensed, pharmacy technicians should be detail oriented so complications are avoided.

Organizational skills. Working as a pharmacy technician involves balancing a variety of responsibilities. Pharmacy technicians need good organizational skills to complete the work delegated by pharmacists while satisfying customers or patients.


Pay

The median annual wage of pharmacy technicians was $28,400 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,840, and the top 10 percent earned more than $40,710.

Pharmacies may be open at all hours. Therefore, pharmacy technicians may have to work nights or weekends. Although most pharmacy technicians work full time, many work part time.


Job Outlook

Employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 32 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. As a result of advances in pharmaceutical research, more prescription medications are being used to fight diseases. Also, the number of older people is growing, and older people use more prescription drugs than younger people.

Job Prospects

Job prospects should be excellent for pharmacy technicians, particularly those with formal training and those with experience in retail settings.

Projected Employment by 2020

108,300 (32% growth from 2010)

 Search jobs for "Pharmacy Technician"


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

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