Certified Pharmacy Technician Career Guide

Overview

A certified pharmacy technician is a trained individual who provides support and assistance to the senior pharmacist in the operations of the pharmacy. The goal of every pharmacy technician is to ensure that the pharmacy is running smooth and efficiently as a business unit. Pharmacy technicians usually perform functions related to running a pharmacy under the immediate supervision of a senior licensed pharmacist.

The pharmacy is actually an integral part of the medical industry. It is a means of effectively and responsibly supplying medical products and pharmaceutical drugs to those who need them. It actually forms a link between the medical professional and the patient.

A pharmacy is available in many settings such as hospitals, malls, or retail outlets. As a pharmacy technician you will get the opportunity to meet many customers and patients. This heavy customer interaction will allow you to deal with a number of patients, cases and situations – all that will add to your experience.

Job Duties

The job duties of a certified pharmacy technician are quite straight forward and specific. However, they may vary depending on the size of the pharmacy, the area of expertise and state laws and regulations. Broadly speaking, apart from retail, a pharmacist technician’s duties are a mix of clerical and administrative duties as well.

  1. You will need to accurately understand customer requirements through a valid prescription and fulfill them accordingly
  2. If needed, you may have to guide and instruct the customer on the usage, effects and precautions of the product
  3. You may have to assist the senior pharmacist in various procedures such as making compounds, ointments and various creams. Some pharmacists have small labs where medical compounds are prepared
  4. Carefully take payments and process orders with accuracy and transparency. Basic book-keeping skills are necessary to ensure that cash inflows, receipts and invoices are accurately logged
  5. You will need to process insurance claims where they are applicable and valid
  6. Part of your job is also to greet customers and answer their queries regarding physical product placement etc.
  7. Maintain an inventory of all products, equipment, assets and devices in the pharmacy. You need to have an inventory list that monitors all the aforementioned items
  8. Record keeping of all sorts will also fall under your scope of duties. In case there is an audit or an inspection of any sorts, the pharmacy’s documentation should be fool proof and transparent
  9. You will need to be in contact with various suppliers and vendors as you may need to reorder products and pharmaceutical drugs that may soon fall out of stock. The same goes for keeping a close watch on products that are nearing expiry which will need to be removed off the shelf
  10. Look for ways in which business operating costs may be reduced and operations may enjoy increased efficiency

Career Outlook

Employment growth for pharmacy technicians is estimated around 32% which is quite faster than the industry average – this growth can be translated to roughly an increase of 108,300 new jobs during the period of 2010 to 2020. In 2010 there were 334,400 pharmacy technician jobs. The statistics can be verified from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov).

This growth and expansion in employment can be attributed to a number of factors such as increased health awareness, breakthroughs in pharmaceutical research and development, and greater emphasis on preventative medicine.

Salary Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for pharmacy technicians is $28,400 which translates to roughly $13.65 per hour (bls.gov). Furthermore, the top 10% of pharmacy technicians earned $40,710 annually. The sectors where pharmacy technicians could earn the highest in 2010 were hospitals (public, local and private) and grocery stores. Employers that prefer certified pharmacy technicians may be able to offer them a higher salary.

Education Requirements

According to the BLS (bls.gov) it is expected that candidates have a basic high school diploma as entry level education while the rest of the training can be acquired during on the job. However some employers prefer that candidates go through a pharmacy technology program that awards a certificate.

There are a couple of options that you can explore when it comes to earning a pharmacy technician certification. The National Healthcareer Association (nhanow.org) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (ptcb.org) should provide you plenty of insight regarding certification needs, requirements, exams, course content, schedules and so on. Laws and regulations vary according to state so make sure you carefully research.

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