PHARM TECHS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What is a pharmacy technician?

The principal goal of a pharmacy technician is to assist licensed Pharmacists in their daily duties.

Pharmacy technicians primarily execute routine tasks in the preparation of prescribed

medications including, labeling prescription bottles and counting capsules and tablets.

Technicians may also assist in administrative duties such as, cash register operation, answering

phones, and shelf stocking. Any questions or concerns that a technician has regarding drug or

health information will be referred to the licensed Pharmacist on duty.

Are there any differences between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacy aide?

The roles of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy aides are very similar, although the job of a

technician is a bit more complex. Pharmacy aides primarily assist technicians and are often

cashiers or clerks. Some other responsibilities of the pharmacy aide include, stocking shelves,

handling customer transactions, and answering phones. The tasks of aides can also vary to

include other routine duties, according to State regulations.

 

What routine tasks do pharmacy technicians perform?

Pharmacy technicians can also perform a wide variety of other tasks, depending on State

Regulations and Rules, in addition to, pharmacy setting. Technicians working in mail-order and

retail pharmacies have many different responsibilities, such as processing prescription refills for

patients. Pharm technicians play a crucial role in the refill process, and are an essential

component in the successful completion of this routine task. Techs are responsible for reviewing

medication orders for proper dosing, drug allergies, and drug incompatibilities and interactions.

Pharmacy technicians also assist the Pharmacist in the mixing, labeling and packaging, as well

as, delivery of the medication to the patient. Technicians are required to maintain computerized

documentation of each medication, and work with the Pharmacist to assure that the correct

prescriptions are delivered. In these particular pharmacy settings, technicians may also prepare

insurance forms, create and maintain customer profiles, and take inventory and stock over-the-

counter (OTC) and prescription medications.

Pharmacy techs may also work in hospitals, assisted-living and nursing homes. In these

environments, technicians have additional responsibilities which can include, medication

preparation, and reading patient profiles and charts. Pharmacy technicians may also sterilize and

clean dispensing instruments and bottles, answer various questions concerning non-drug

products, and transport medications and pharmaceutical devices from the pharmacy to nursing

units in the facility.

 

Are there any specific qualifications needed to begin a career as a pharmacy technician?

Excellent customer service, observation, organization, and

teamwork

skills are needed to

progress as a pharmacy technician due to the constant interaction with the general public and

other health care professionals. Prospective technicians must be able to take direction from

supervisors, while also possessing the ability to work independently. Most employers prefer that

technician applicants have experience in dosage measurement and inventory management.

Strong mathematics, reading and spelling skills are also essential for potential pharmacy

technicians.

 

What kind of education and training is needed to become a pharmacy technician?

Most technicians currently working in retail pharmacies receive on-the- job training, as there are

no Federal regulations and very few states that require completion of a formal training program

or national certification. Many employers, however, favor those technicians that have been

formally educated and that are certified.

Formal pharmacy technician training and education programs require students to perform both

classroom and laboratory work in numerous areas of study. Pharmaceutical terminology,

techniques, calculations, record keeping, in addition to, pharmacy ethics and laws are a few of

the areas included. Several educational programs include internships, with prospective

technicians gaining valuable technical experience in real pharmacy environments. Depending on

the area and program, successful students will receive a diploma or certificate. More extensive

education programs will offer an associate’s degree.

While certification is voluntary in the majority of the nation, some States require pharmacy

technicians to be certified. There are two national organizations that offer administration of the

Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. There are a few requirements

that applicants must meet to be eligible for the certification exam. Candidates are required to

possess a high school diploma or GED, have no convicted felonies of any nature within a 5-year

period of applying, and must have absolutely no pharmacy or drug-related felonies at any time.

Employers favor technicians who pass the examination, as these techs have the skills and

knowledge to work successfully in a pharmaceutical environment. Several pharmacies and

employers will often pay for, or reimburse individuals for the exam cost.

Recertification is required every two years under the certification process. Twenty hours of

continuing education must be completed within a 2-year time period. A minimum of one hour of

continuing education must be Pharmacy Law. There are several sources that offer continuing

education, including pharmacy technician education programs, pharmacy associations, and

colleges. Technicians also have the option of completing up to 10 hours of continuing education

on the job, under the instruction and supervision of a Pharmacist.

 

Work Environment and the Pharmacy Technician:

A tidy, well-lit, properly ventilated, and organized work area is needed for technicians to

successfully perform their jobs. Pharmacy technicians are always in motion, and a majority of

the workday is spent on their feet. Techs must be prepared to use ladders to gather supplies and

inventory from high areas.

 

Pharmacy techs work the same hours and shifts as Pharmacists do. These shifts can include

nights, evenings, holidays, and weekends. Health care facilities that are open 24 hours daily will

require technicians to work longer shifts.

Describe the average salary statistics for qualified pharmacy technicians:

In 2006, the average hourly wage for pharmacy techs was $12.32. Technicians in the middle

salary range earned between $10.10 and $14.92 an hour, while the lowest percentile earned

approximately $8.56. Pharmacy technicians in the highest percentage earned over $17.65.

Generally certified techs will receive a higher wage than those without national certification.

 


Describe the average salary statistics for qualified U.S. pharmacy technicians:

In 2017, the median hourly wage for pharmacy techs was $15.26. Technicians in the highest percentile salary range earned between $18.53 and $22.58 an hour, while the lowest percentile earned approximately $10.58. The highest paying states in the U.S. are; Washington, California, Oregon and North Dakota, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


What are the employment statistics and career outlook for pharmacy technicians?

Pharmacy techs with previous experience and training are projected to have excellent job

opportunities for both full and part-time work. These job openings will be a direct result of

employment growth, and also from the need to replace workers who changed careers or retired.

In 2006, pharmacy technicians held approximately 286,000 jobs in the United States. Jobs in

retail pharmacies including chains, department stores, and grocery stores comprised 71 percent

of this total number. Tech positions in hospitals accounted for almost 18 percent of these jobs,

with the remaining percentage in internet and mail-order pharmacies, doctors’ offices,

wholesalers, as well as the Federal Government.

Certified pharmacy technicians with formal training that are employed by large health care

systems and pharmacies have the greatest chance of being promoted to an executive or

managerial position, and will often train techs with less experience. Many pharmacy technicians

advance into specialized positions including nuclear pharmacy and chemotherapy technicians.

Some pharmacy technicians may even advance to Pharmacists with a significant amount of

education and training.

By the year 2016, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to increase by 32 percent.

This rise is significantly faster than average for many occupations, and is due primarily to the

increased prescription usage by middle-age and elderly patients, in addition to, scientific

advances that will bring management and treatment to various medical conditions.

Unfortunately, the developing usage of drug dispensing machines will decrease the need for

pharmacy technicians to some level. These progressive machines can increase pharmacy

productivity by completing routine tasks performed by technicians. Some of these common

duties include counting pills and dispensing them into proper containers. However, the effect of

these machines on employment will be minimal due to the fact they can only be used for

common medications.