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Pharmacy Technician

Job Duties

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in providing medication to pharmacy patients. They are responsible for a variety of routine tasks, such as counting tablets and labeling bottles, and refer any prescription questions to a pharmacist. They usually work in retail or mail-order pharmacies and their duties vary in accordance with State regulations. They greet customers and take written prescriptions from customers. They check to ensure the information on the prescription is accurate and complete. Then they begin preparing the order. To do this, they may retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix medication. They create a prescription label and container, then check the prescription with a pharmacist. They may also keep patient records, prepare insurance forms, and stock inventory.

Pharmacy Technology

Pharmacy technicians who work in nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted-living facilities have more responsibility than those working in pharmacies. They are responsible for reading patients' charts, preparing medicine, and delivering it to patients. They may also put together a 24-hour supply of medicine for every patient in the facility. They package and label the doses separately, placing them in the patient's individual medicine cabinet where it is checked by a pharmacist before it is delivered.

Job Skills

Pharmacy technicians should have well-developed communication and customer service skills. They need to be alert, observant, organized, dedicated, and responsible. They must be good at following directions accurately. They should also be able to pay extremely close attention to detail.

Income

In 2002, pharmacy technicians earned a median hourly wage of $10.70. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $7.44, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $15.82. The following shows the median annual salaries in the industries employing the highest numbers of pharmacy technicians:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals -- $12.32
  • Grocery stores -- $11.34
  • Drugs and druggist' sundries merchant wholesalers -- $10.60
  • Health and personal care stores -- $9.70
  • Department stores -- $9.69

Training and Education

Employers prefer to hire applicants for pharmacy technician jobs who have competed formal training, although most employers train employees on the job. Formal training programs include courses and laboratory work in areas such as medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping, pharmaceutical techniques, and pharmacy law and ethics. Many programs include internships that allow students to gain valuable experience working in pharmacies. Prospective employees who have experience working as an aide in a community pharmacy or volunteering in a hospital have a major advantage over their competitors. Pharmacy technicians can become voluntarily certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Eligibility requirements include a high school diploma, a record free of felony convictions, and successful passing of an exam. To renew their certification every 2 years, pharmacy technicians must complete continuing education courses.

Employment

In 2002, pharmacy technicians held about 211,000 jobs. Two-thirds worked in retail pharmacies. 22% worked in hospitals.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase faster than the average. The population will continue to age rapidly, creating more demand for pharmaceutical products. Job opportunities will be good for full- and part-time positions. Opportunity will by best for those with experience and formal education.

For more information on becoming a pharmacy technician, please see our directory of schools offering Pharmacy Technician Training


Pharmacy Technician Training

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            1 Program(s) Found

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            2 Program(s) Found
            • Offers special tuition pricing for Veterans, Active Duty Military and spouses/qualifying dependents of all Active Duty, National Guard and Reserves.
            • Works closely with an advisory board from the medical community to ensure that their curriculum, equipment and instruction are current.
            • Allows students to complete assignments on the go with its Blackboard Learn mobile app.
            • Gives online students live student support for technical or course questions.
            • Has campus locations in Florida as well as online learning programs.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found

            • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
            • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.

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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
            • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
            • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Offers programs in nursing, medical assisting, pharmacy technology, dental assisting, and more.
            • Six Campuses across Northern CA: Fremont, San Jose, Sacramento, S. San Francisco, Hayward, and Concord.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, with programmatic approvals from the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and the Board of Registered Nursing.
            • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating since 2010.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            UEI College , San Marcos
            • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
            • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
            • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
            • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
            • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
            • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Committed to empowering students with education and skills to help them reach their goals since 1979.
            • Online programs include business management, criminal justice, RN to BSN, and more.
            • Technical assistance for students is available 24/7.
            • Institutional accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
            • Ground campuses are also available across Arizona and New Mexico. 
            • Online Courses